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June 26th, 2012

Are the days of handwriting numbered?

When was the last time you wrote anything by hand? Did you fill out a form or jot down items on a grocery list? Send a thank you card for your birthday gift? Online stationer Docmail asked 2,000 adults about their handwriting habits, and respondents said that it had been on average 41 days since they wrote anything by hand. It also found that one in three of us has not had cause to write anything “properly” for more than six months. The convenience of typing on a computer keyboard or entering text via a touchscreen is making handwriting obsolete.

Hasn’t the handwriting been on the wall about penmanship for a while now? Even ‘back in the day’ official or formal letters would not have been handwritten, but typed. Schools still teach printing in the first grade, and cursive in the second or third grade, but after that, kids are not required to use it because they master keyboarding (a strange term which replaced the old-fashioned term typing.)

Handwriting’s decline can be traced back further than your touchscreen though. Back in the 1800s, handwriting transformed from ornate, calligraphic script to a simpler form of cursive we’re familiar with today. It became speedier and legible, which made business processes like accounting more productive. Then typewriters became the wave of the future, so time devoted to penmanship lessons was significantly reduced to allow more time for typing skills. In the 1990s, when computers gained popularity at home and in the office, teaching handwriting became even less of a priority.

So are the days of putting pen to paper really numbered? We work and communicate via our electronic devices now, so the decline of handwriting is just the reality of progress. I don’t think handwriting is being lost – it’s just changing with the times. What do you think? Use your keyboard or touchscreen to join the conversation on our avast! Facebook page. Or, you can write us a note. Send it c/o Deborah Salmi at

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Categories: General Tags: ,
  1. June 27th, 2012 at 16:19 | #1

    I write by hand every day! And not just because I’m a copywriter who likes to jot ideas while on the bus. :) I remember reading articles from around the time that typewriters were invented, which showed that typing led to shorter, less developed, and often less clear sentences. The main idea was this: when we type, our fingers move faster than our brains, whereas when we write by hand, our brains are thinking ahead to what we want to say.

    For me it’s easier to write by hand and edit as I go along. Then, when I type a version of it for the first time, it provides another good rewriting/editing phase.

    This comment was, however, typed (via PC).

  2. Tech
    June 28th, 2012 at 02:51 | #2

    Deborah, interesting reading.
    I’ve learned to type and some years later we’ve got the computer.
    Now I’m working at my notebook and thinking if it will survive the mobile technology :)

    Oh, I need to write with pen and pencil almost every day…

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