Bad Handwriting problems
October 29, 2012 8:48 AM   Subscribe

How do I deal with my bad handwriting, especially when it comes to thank you notes?

My handwriting is atrocious. It literally looks like a young child's with a fine motor skill deficiency. I've had occupational therapy, it didn't work. I mostly get around this by typing absolutely everything (forms, envelopes, etc.) but I was raised to send nice, handwritten thank you notes and it's no longer cute to have bad penmanship on those past the age of ten.

What are my options here? Don't send at all? Call? Is typing ever appropriate?
posted by nickhb to Human Relations (13 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
If you typed a note using a pretty font, signed it by hand, and HIGHLY PERSONALIZED the content of your message so it's very clear that the note was written expressly for that person and not a copy paste slight edit, then I think you'd be fine typing. I'd make the note a little bit longer to increase the personalization factor.

The point is to personalize the note- if it's a personal note, not a professional one, you could include a digital picture. One including the person you're writing to, or one related to something you've done recently, or a picture of your young kids or new puppy or whatever. This would make it seem more natural that you'd type-written the note.

It would be a bit different than the standard note, but I think that'd be welcome!
posted by saraindc at 8:59 AM on October 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

I was taught that calling the gift giver to say thank you is as appropriate as writing a handwritten note, so I would call the person who you're thanking, if you think you'd be too embarrassed about your handwriting. I would not do nothing at all.
posted by lea724 at 8:59 AM on October 29, 2012 [2 favorites]

My cursive writing is terrible, but I write by hand fairly prettily by using block letters. For some reason, the flowing nature of cursive fails my meager coordination skills. I've sent notes/cards/thank-yous in this somewhat comic-strip-looking writing, and people have thanked me for the "handwritten" note, so that might be an option.
posted by xingcat at 9:04 AM on October 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

I think you can type, but I also think if you write slightly larger and slower than normal, people won't really care/notice bad handwriting. When I was young I remember my mom lightly writing in pencil for me to trace over in my own writing. My handwriting was still bad but easier to read. You could print in a really really light ink and write over it to sort of space out words and help you form letters for notes you really think should be hand written.
posted by Swisstine at 9:07 AM on October 29, 2012

Go ahead and type. Then sign with your actual signature.

Anyone who knows you will know that you're handwriting is terrible and it will be nice for them to be able to read your note.

Get nice paper for this.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 9:14 AM on October 29, 2012

A printed-out note, signed by hand, on nice paper and/or tucked into a nice card (either a blank card, or a thank you card) would be quite acceptable, I would think. But my attitudes are fairly liberal; your Great Aunt Gertrude may or may not agree. :)
posted by BrashTech at 9:16 AM on October 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

What about an honest to goodness typewriter? It has something of that personal feel without the embarrassment of bad handwriting. And yes to nice stationery.
posted by Lorin at 9:18 AM on October 29, 2012 [4 favorites]

Personal notes are preferable regardless of the penmanship. Go ahead and write a messy-as-hell note in your own hand and include a typed translation (with self-deprecating "lest you think I've sent you a prescription" or "because my penmanship is not my most lovable feature").
posted by headnsouth at 9:35 AM on October 29, 2012 [2 favorites]

If you write with the calligraphy tool in Inkscape you can adjust the curves afterwards to neaten it up (press F2 after you've written something to see the handles for bending the curves) or the "Simplify Path" filter (under the Path menu) can automatically smooth lines out. There's a calligraphy tutorial under Help → Tutorials. (Inkscape is free, you can just download it.)

Also, since it's a computer program and you can simply cut and paste stuff, you can painstakingly craft one beautiful thank-you note and print out copies for different people! Just remember to change the name and don't accidentally send the same note to the same person twice. No one will ever catch you! ;^)
posted by XMLicious at 9:59 AM on October 29, 2012

A printed note is fine if it's personalized, i.e. thank you for the telescope, I can't wait to stargaze... versus "thank you for the lovely gift" where 'gift' could be a merge field where you insert a list of things received. And, of course, you would sign it.

A thank you phone call is lazy unless it is followed up in writing. You could joke that you're calling in addition to writing because your penmanship is terrible and you want caller to know that the chicken-scratch note is from you.
posted by shoesietart at 11:09 AM on October 29, 2012

My handwriting is also atrocious, like 10-year-old-doctor bad. My loved ones still appreciate receiving handwritten thank-you notes, holiday cards, and love letters, though, just as I appreciate the same from them--even when more often than not I have to call my dad to ask him what his card says. So I say go for it anyway, for family and friends, because their love for you and appreciation of the effort you've gone to will trump any thoughts they may have about your handwriting. For notes to less-intimate people and business contacts--or that great-aunt who has Made Comments about your handwriting in the past--a personalized typed note on very nice paper/card, with a handwritten signature, is appropriate.

I mitigate the atrociousness of my handwriting by writing slowly, larger than I normally would, and not in cursive. Some people suggest practicing on scrap paper first, but that doesn't work for me because I get impatient and/or fatigued when I write it the second time on the card or nice paper, which makes my writing even worse. But YMMV.
posted by rhiannonstone at 12:31 PM on October 29, 2012

Since mailed thank-you notes of any description are now very thin on the ground, I feel that anyone who goes to the trouble to find paper, envelope and stamp to send me one has already exceeded ninety-five percent of my expectations. The fact that it was handwritten, or typed with a signature would be overlooked in the sheer delight of holding it in my hands.

Type away.
posted by halfbuckaroo at 4:38 PM on October 29, 2012

Using a fountain pen will magically make your handwriting look better, especially if you use a fountain pen with a stub or italic nib. Here's a good cheap one with an italic-style nib, although it does look like some kind of freak of nature.
posted by Napoleonic Terrier at 10:03 PM on October 29, 2012

« Older Is your voice like handwriting? Can you improve...   |   Baron Samedi and Maman Brigitte. Yea or Nay? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.