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My handwriting is very bad on unruled paper. How can I learn to write straight and nice on blank paper?

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9 Answers 9

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I wrote a lot on blank paper, especially during university. Although I never achieved perfection (and I do not plan to), I still looked after improving the appearance of my writing. I never used paper with guides under the paper being written on.

So I had a few "tricks":

  • from the first line, make sure it is straight and parallel to the top of the page;
  • be careful that the subsequent lines are also straight and parallel to the lines above;
  • from time to time write a line with the top of the page as a reference;
  • (!) arrange the sheet of paper in such way that when moving the hand while writing, the hand (holding the pen) moves parallel to the top of the page. This might mean that the paper itself will be laid on the table in a very un-intuitive way.
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One old trick (I learned it before 1970) was to put a piece of lined paper behind the unlined sheet you're actually writing on. Usually you can see the lines through the blank sheet well enough to follow them; if the primary sheet is too thick, a light table or equivalent can help.

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    Comments have been moved to chat; please do not continue the discussion here. Before posting a comment below this one, please review the purposes of comments. Comments that do not request clarification or suggest improvements usually belong as an answer, on Writing Meta, or in Writing Chat. Comments continuing discussion may be removed.
    – linksassin
    Feb 10, 2023 at 3:24
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If the goal is to learn to write straight without helping tools such as ruler or another sheet, the only answer is practice.

Write text, check with a ruler, repeat and pay more attention until you are satisfied. Do the same every day, and you will learn.

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    I second this. I took notes in unlined notebooks for years as a student and it wasn't that long before writing in neat straight lines became completely natural.
    – N. Virgo
    Feb 1, 2023 at 9:46
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    Counterpoint - most peoples handwriting is good evidence that practice alone does not make us good at things.
    – Clumsy cat
    Feb 1, 2023 at 12:42
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    @Clumsycat There's a difference between practice and repetition. "Practice" implies intentionality - examining your results and attempting to correct failings. Most people aren't really practicing their handwriting, they're just doing it, reinforcing but not correcting their bad habits.
    – R.M.
    Feb 1, 2023 at 15:14
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    i was unhappy with my handwriting so i forced myself upon scratching and re-writing words up to a point where i inheriated the new way of writing letters. it's a pain at the beginning but after around 2 weeks you have a brand new handwriting. unfortunately i did not really think this through so my "d" looks like a note from a piano piece and my z is in old german beside other strange "ideas" of mine. so now i have to regulary tell people "it's a font i invented myself"...
    – clockw0rk
    Feb 1, 2023 at 16:10
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    whole point is you can get better / change something just by practising. but the tipp here again is "gid gud" which is not really helpfull i guess
    – clockw0rk
    Feb 1, 2023 at 16:11
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Zeiss Ikon's answer brings back memories - this is what they made us do in elementary school, only it wasn't just an ordinary lined paper but a dedicated sheet (paper or plastic) where the lines were really black and thick, and you could buy it in a stationery shop. (You can also make one like that from a lined paper using a ruler and a black marker.)

Another thing you can do if the paper you're writing on is too thick - say you're making a greeting card for someone - is to actually make the line there lightly in pencil with a ruler, and after you're sure that the writing is dry, take an eraser on it.

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Although other answers are excellent, I would like to share one advice that helped me personally as a child.

My writing was so bad (dyslexia and other problems) my parents took me to a specialist. One of the things the specialist tested was writing on lined paper and then writing on clear paper. My lines were horrible downward arches. Then the specialist gave me another clear paper and corrected my posture to sit with straight back and prompted me to try again. Suddenly it was much easier to write straight lines without much effort.

I guess it is much easier to keep the line straight when my head is further away from the paper and therefore I can see the paper edges and whole line I am writing instead of scrunching and focusing on just the few last letters.

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Writing straight and nice on a blank paper is not that easy if you're trying to do it the first time, even when there's lined guide underneath.

You need to practice doing it for sometime, and make it your regular manner of writing to familiarize with it.

Here's the best and shortest way to do it:

Draw set of small squares on your blank paper, and fill them up with straight horizontal lines striking from left to right without lifting your hands.

You can make the squares bigger as you go along, until you don't need them anymore, and can draw the lines longer and straight.

Before you know it, writing on a blank paper is like signing your signature blindfolded.

*(You can also alternate the horizontal lines with vertical lines to familiarize with the paper's squareness)

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There are a few things you can do to ensure that your writing is straight on blank paper. First, make sure that the paper is positioned correctly in front of you. Second, hold the paper down with one hand while you write with the other. Third, use a pencil or pen with a fine point to prevent your writing from looking messy. Finally, take your time and be careful not to rush.

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Here is a trick that might be helpful.

1.) Take your paper, fold a horizontal crease from edge to edge in the space you would like to write.

2.) Add another crease where you want to limit the height of your lettering to be.

The creases will serve as your guide while you are writing on the paper.

If you scan the paper, depending on the scanner, your creases will not show or will be barely visible.

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Back in the day we were supposed to submit our term papers in writing on unlined A4 sheets.

As @ZeissIkon said, an easy aid for that would be a template, an equally-sized sheet with thick black lines, put underneath the blank sheet and held in place with paperclips.

I would usually print a thick-lined table in Word, choosing line intervals to fit my letter height, with vertical lines for margins and extra ones to mark newlines and the centerline of the sheet (so that there is a reference to do a caption or something like it).

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