The Palmer Method of Business Handwriting


March’s skill is perhaps the most useful. Something I’m definitely in need of. I’ll be learning to write based on the Palmer Method, which specializes in combining legibility, rapidity, ease, and endurance. The Palmer Method was developed and taught by Austen Palmer in late 19th century into the early 20th, and published in a short textbook pamphlet (which I just so happened to have gotten at an antique book store a number of years back!). The handwriting method differs from the majority of handwriting, especially today, in that you don’t move your wrist at all while writing, but instead move your entire arm. This allows you to write for longer without tiring, and ensures a higher level of fluidity.

A couple of years ago I had spent an hour or so starting to learn this, and found that ballpoint pens really don’t work well at all, since they have little friction against the paper. Pencils work, but not superbly. A good fountain pen is marvelous. As such, in an effort to not expend large quantities of cash on skill acquisition, I went and purchased a pair of disposable Pilot® fountain pens. The only other item I need is paper (and a desk or table, of course), and that’s plentiful. For highest quality writing I could probably buy fancy paper, but for now I’m just going to use ordinary printer paper.

Target Performance Level:

My goal is to be able to write at 30 20 words per minute, and to have my handwriting look quite similar to the sample letters shown in the textbook:


Here is how my handwriting looks at present, as a comparison both for now, and when I have completed the 20 hours:

Handwriting Before

The capital letters on the first two lines line look so especially irregular primarily because of the height I was trying to make them, which is close to double the size I generally write.

After completing this I was shocked how almost-decent my writing actually looks—typically it is much worse. I guess it’s true, fountain pens really do show  an improvement in handwriting over ballpoint pens.

3 responses to “The Palmer Method of Business Handwriting

  1. Shouldn’t your version be in cursive as well? I would think that’s where the speed would come from, but I could be wrong.

    • josiahkeller

      It would be in cursive, except that I’ve pretty much never written in cursive, apart from learning it in school. It might be a closer comparison in speed, but in handwriting quality it definitely wouldn’t.

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