It’s no secret that, over the past couple decades, typing has replaced handwriting as the go-to method of writing text. Many peck at their keyboards at work all day, and most use their thumbs to send text messages or emails from their phone.
Think about it: outside of the occasional greeting card, when is the last time you’ve written a significant piece of text strictly by hand?
Typing has its advantages, of course. It’s faster, easier, and generally more convenient. But writing by hand has plenty of benefits, too. For example, writing by hand has been linked to improved creativity, problem-solving and critical thinking skills.
That makes some sense. Writing out a series of letters and words by hand is a cognitive process that requires refined motor skills. Typing, on the other hand, requires the exact same action for each letter.
Further, writing by hand and reading are connected neurally, and better reading skills can lead to a boost in self-confidence.
In the US, cursive writing was excluded from Common Core curriculum standards in 2013. Yet when it comes to taking notes by hand in class, studies show it can help students understand various topics better.
While it likely will never return as the main form of written communication, handwriting is definitely making a comeback. Many have embraced its many benefits and are consciously working it into their daily routines. Electronics companies have taken note.
Before we get into some of our favorite hardware and software options for writing by hand, brush up on your penmanship with a few classic exercises in handwriting.
Get Started With These Free Tutorials
Peterson Directed Handwriting‘s Printable Worksheet (PDF)
If you haven’t used your cursive skills since grade school, a little refresher might help you out. Peterson Directed Handwriting offers this step-by-step tutorial to help you learn or re-learn your cursive lettering.
The PDF is quite large, so be forewarned before you print the entire thing. However, printing out chunks at a time and practicing your capital and lowercase cursive lettering is a great way to improve your handwriting in manageable time slots.
In addition to this free PDF, you can browse other free handwriting downloads in the website’s shop.
Download — Peterson Directed Handwriting Cursive Worksheet (Free)
This website offers beginner, intermediate, and advanced cursive practice sheets.
You can practice writing individual cursive letters, sentences, or entire paragraphs based on cursive text that is modeled for you. Even better, most of the sample text you’re asked to write discusses factual information about animals and geography, so you learn a little something as you write too.
Or, if re-writing sample text isn’t your thing, you can also download blank handwriting paper from the site for free.
Download — Printable Cursive Handwriting Tutorials (PDF)
Now that you’ve cleaned up your handwriting a bit, let’s take it to the next level!
Best Mobile Devices for Handwritten Notes
Microsoft Surface Studio
Among its many features, Microsoft’s Surface Studio allows you to use the screen as a canvas using the Surface Pen and Surface Dial. Its design is meant to mimic the feel of a pen or pencil, complete with the ability to erase.
With a starting price of $2,999, it certainly isn’t cheap, but it’s about as cutting-edge as anything on the market right now.
Lenovo Yoga Book
The Yoga Book from Lenovo is a two-in-one tablet that encourages owners to use the stylus to write notes or sketch by hand. The device doesn’t have a physical keyboard, but it does have a Halo keyboard that appears when you need it. The Android-powered device actually allows you to write in ink on paper with its Real Pen, and then digitizes your notes or drawings.
The technology here is impressive. The Real Pen detects more than 2,000 levels of pressure in an effort to make it feel as realistic as possible. The Yoga Book starts at $499.
Apple iPad Pro
Apple’s iPad might not be the first device you think about when it comes to writing or sketching by hand, but it, along with the Apple Pencil, has received some strong reviews. In terms of the Apple Pencil specifically, it makes writing and drawing by hand feel natural, although some have complained about its cap.
One of the iPad Pro’s strengths, of course, is that if you tend to work in the Apple ecosystem, then this device will fit into your digital life seamlessly. The 9.7-inch iPad Pro starts at $599, while the 12.9-inch version starts at $799.
If you don’t want to shell out the cash for a fully loaded Surface or iPad Pro, the MateBook from Huawei is a solid option. Like the Yoga Book, Huawei’s MatePen has a sensor that detects more than 2,000 levels of sensitivity, giving it a strong pen-to-paper feel. While its $699.99 starting price may not seem like a “budget” option, you get a lot for your money, including a 12-inch screen and 128 GB of memory.
Once you have your device, you’ll want a solid selection of apps that can help you improve your handwriting. Here are five of the best.
Apps for Writing by Hand
The Paper app from FiftyThree has a strong enough reputation that it’s counted as an “essential” on Apple’s App Store. In fact, the original version for iPad won Apple’s App of the Year awards, and is now used by millions of iPad owners around the world.
The app is currently on version 3.6.4, which indicates FiftyThree’s attention to detail and commitment to keep it optimized for the latest devices and operating systems. And one of its best features? It’s free.
Download — Paper for iOS (Free)
From Silicon Benders, the Sketchable app for Microsoft’s Surface devices has been compared favorably to the Paper app for iPad. One of the best comparisons is the app is free. But it also has a breadth of features for both writing and drawing, including support for resolutions up to 4K.
While the app is free, there are some premium features that come at a price, such as the ability to add layers, a stencil add-on and a symmetry feature.
Download — Sketchable for Windows (Free with in-app purchases)
Google Handwriting Input (Android)
When it comes to apps for Android, it doesn’t get much better than Google. The Google Handwriting Input lets you handwrite text on your phone or tablet, with or without a stylus. It supports both print and cursive writing, along with 97 languages.
Make no mistake, that’s a deep roster of languages — and it recently added Corsican, Hawaiian, Kazakh, Luxembourgish, Samoan, Scottish Gaelic, Shona, Tajik, Uzbek, and Western Frisian. And for the fun side of writing text, it allows you to hand-draw your emoji.
Download — Google Handwriting Input for Android (Free)
INKredible (iOS and Android)
One of the coolest things about the INKredible handwriting app from WriteOn is its ability to swiftly turn your stylus into various types of writing utensils. Examples include fountain pen, ballpoint pen, wet brush, and calligraphy.
The app also has a relatively straightforward and easy-to-use interface. Furthermore, you can zoom in on your work when you need to for ultra-fine handwriting.
The Penultimate app is for iPad owners who like to write by hand, but would also like to include the search and sync features of Evernote. Like anything else in Evernote, whatever you write using Penultimate will be available on any other computer or mobile device you log into. It also utilizes Evernote’s powerful search capabilities.
Simply put, if you like both handwriting and Evernote, Penultimate is for you.
Download — Penultimate for iOS (Free)
Write or Type Whenever You Want
Are you looking for a way to incorporate handwriting into more of your day-to-day work? Or are you someone who prefers to type and text at every possible opportunity? No worries, even if you like to switch between the two, these apps and hardware options can make note-taking super convenient for any writing preference.
Will handwriting become part of your normal routine again? Tell us why or why not in the comments section below.