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An Introduction to Penmanship

by Sripal Jain
Penmanship explained

Penmanship is the process of handwritten notes with the aid of tools like Pens, Pencils or Quills

Penmanship is personal to every individual. Like our fingerprints, every individual has his or her own style of writing. The art of writing or the skill of writing can also be defined as penmanship. On the other hand, at the individual level, it is referred to as handwriting.

Penmanship is a modern terminology and has not been the same since the introduction of writing.

The earlier form of writing was through the Sumerian pictographic system found on clay tablets. This system eventually developed into a modified version called Cuneiform around 3200 BC. The tool of writing was with a sharp-edged reed on a wet clay surface. Then came the ideographic where a sign represented an idea and then to a syllabic system. Around the same time, the Egyptian system of hieroglyphics also began as a pictographic script and evolved into a system of syllabic writing. Egyptians invented papyrus to write up with ink and sharp-edged reeds.

Modern Penmanship started around the 15th century when the Greeks and the Romans formalized certain scripts to be used commonly for public documents. It is said that the first script formalized was the gothic which was also used by the first printing press developed in 1454 by Johannes Gutenberg.

Penmanship evolved differently across the world. Different cultures at different timelines adapted to their specific penmanships and made guidelines to bring in uniformity in the preparation of scriptures. To get an in-depth understanding of penmanship, check out the Wikipedia link here.


The modernization of the current penmanship started around 1850’s by Platt Rogers Spencers. The spencerian penmanship that started in AMerica is attributed to him. This was the foundation stones for the modern penmanship. Different countries adapted and evolved this system starting from the early 20th century.

The modern penmanship has adapted scentific methods since the mid 20th century and many streams of studies were formed to study and specialize in different aspects of penmanship.

  1. Chirography – handwriting, its style, and character
  2. Diplomatics – forensic paleography (seeks the provenance of written documents).
  3. Graphonomics – is the interdisciplinary scientific study of the handwriting process and the handwritten product
  4. Paleography – the study of script.

Tody Penmanship has evolved with endless scripts and styles. One of them is Calligraphy. There are numerous ways in which calligraphy is done. Calligraphy is an art in itself and takes a while to master it. Lets keep it a different topic to be discussed. Click here to get into the calligraphy section.


I hope you were able to broadly understand the term Penmanship and when and how it started. As I said, it is as different as every individual and hope you have explored yours.

At Makoba we offer great tools to explore your handwriting in the form of good fountain pens, pens and pencils clubbed with very high-quality notebooks. Do explore our collection of fountain pens, pens & pencils, and Notebooks here and pick what suits you the best.

Do write in your comments and feedbacks to improve the article.


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