We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What Is Secretary Hand?

By T. Carrier
Updated May 23, 2024
Our promise to you
Language & Humanities is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At Language & Humanities, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

Secretary hand is a European handwriting type that has fallen out of general use. It first appeared in Europe in the 16th century, and was frequently used over the next 100-plus years in various languages, such as German, English, and Gaelic. This particular style was developed as an alternative to the less-legible book hand, and it was eventually replaced itself in most areas by italic script.

A precursor to modern cursive writing, secretary hand stylistically used many loops. Letters were thus generally joined together, rather than being separate, and strokes and slashes were also commonplace. For example, a slash placed at the beginning of a word was known as an attacking stroke. Each letter also generally had a lower-case and upper-case form.

Some letters, such as s, resembled modern letters when written in secretary hand. Others, such as k, had a much different appearance than their contemporary writing representations. In addition, some letters — like t and c — had similar appearances and were often confused with each other. Since words were often written as to how they sounded, standard spellings were not commonplace, which also makes current readings of secretary hand more difficult. As such, different writers may have written the same word with different secretary hand style letters.

A style known as book hand preceded secretary hand, and it was perhaps the most common writing style used prior to the 16th century. This style resembled calligraphy in that the letters were fluid and malleable as they were written, with often dramatic flourishes. Since this form was highly stylized, the letters were often illegible to an untrained eye.

Increased legibility became essential during this era because more individuals had become literate and written correspondences were beginning to spread beyond local barriers. Book hand was deemed unsuitable for these purposes because it was hard to read. Since secretaries were in the business of drafting clear correspondences, increasing numbers of individuals began to adopt their method of writing.

Most professionals eventually learned secretary hand, including historians, scholars, and other individuals who could read and write, or scriveners. If an individual knew how to read and write secretary hand in these eras, it was likely that they performed in a higher-ranking job than the average person. Many remnants of secretary hand can be found on historical official documents, such as wills and government papers.

This form of writing was replaced in the 17th century by italic script. This script differs in that writers usually tilted the writing instrument at a 45° angle and thus created a more curved script. Modern italic fonts were inspired by this handwriting style. Scholars trace such handwriting trends as book hand, secretary hand, and italic script through paleography, or the study of ancient writing.

Language & Humanities is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
Language & Humanities, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

Language & Humanities, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.