Bad handwriting can be frustrating to others who have to read it, make you appear less competent on job applications and exams, and can even be a sign of an underlying medical problem. There are ways to improve your handwriting, however, starting with analyzing your writing to find out what the problem is. Once you've done this, you can learn proper penmanship techniques, and then practice regularly until your new writing style becomes a habit. If you need some extra training, then workshops and courses from a university or penmanship tutor can be very helpful.
Analyzing Your Writing
The first step in starting to improve your handwriting is to analyze it and determine why you write like you do. Many people find that they were trained to write incorrectly, or are just out of practice since they type more than they write. Other people have medical problems that cause dysgraphia, or poor handwriting. Brain damage from strokes, Parkinson's disease dyslexia, and dyspraxia can all make it hard to write properly, as can some medications that affect coordination.
In addition to figuring out why you write like you do, try to notice what you do or don't like about your letter formation. You might notice that your letters are slanted too far in one direction, that some are noticeably larger or smaller than others, or that the spacing between your words is uneven. If you write with very long loops in your letters, they may overlap down into the lines below them.
As you're doing your analysis, look at what your body does while you're writing. Many people with poor handwriting have very tight, tense hands and shoulders, which causes them to press the pen into the paper very heavily, leading to cramped, mis-shaped writing. When you know what parts of your writing style you don't like, you can focus on consciously changing them as you practice.
Once you've determined what you want to fix about your handwriting and have had any underlying medical conditions treated, you should learn and practice the proper writing technique. This consists of using your shoulders and arms to make the movements of the pen or pencil, rather than just your fingers or hands. You shouldn't press your hand down into the paper while you write, but rather, keep it loose and lifted above the paper. This can keep your hands from getting tired and also makes your writing look more relaxed. If it feels too uncomfortable to write at your normal size with this method, then try tracing large letters on a mirror, whiteboard, or on a worksheet
Posture is an important part of good handwriting too. Sit up straight with your feet flat on the floor and your stomach a few inches away from your desk or table. This gives your arm enough room to move properly. If you're right-handed, then keep the paper to your right, and if you're left-handed, then keep it to your left. Make sure to keep your paper straight, since slanting it to one side or another can cause your writing to become overly slanted. Once you feel comfortable with the basics of good penmanship, you can then start to focus on improving individual problems you have, like improper spacing or overly large loops.
Try to practice daily, remembering to use the correct posture and way of holding the pen or pencil, and consciously focusing on writing correctly. Pay attention even when writing things like grocery lists or memos. If you are in school, you can occasionally take class notes by hand instead of on a computer. If you still need additional practice, consider getting practice books or worksheets, which are available online and offline for children and adults. If you don't feel like you're improving, or want to learn more elaborate styles, you can consider taking a course in penmanship or calligraphy. Many schools, community colleges, and universities have handwriting workshops and courses, and there are also people in many areas who offer personal penmanship tutoring.
There are many benefits to improving your penmanship. Aside from simply being more convenient to read and nicer to look at, proper handwriting can be written very quickly, and is more personal than typed work. It also makes you look more cultured and competent, which can be a big advantage when filling out job applications and in business communications. Additionally, practicing the fine motor skills needed to write is good exercise for the brain and can help improve hand-eye coordination.