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Improve Your Penmanship + Develop Your Own Lettering Style

    There are two things I particularly like about myself:


    There are other things, sure, but these two feel like my signature, random features that one might use to describe me, things I’m fond of and proud of.

    The hair thing is totally not my doing. God decided to surprise my parents with a redhead and this head of hair just happens to be thick, hold curl well and can go several days between washings (which works quite well for this busy mama).

    The pretty penmanship thing is partially innate and partially because I work at it, enjoy it, practice often and have learned helpful techniques over the many years I’ve been writing.


    TRUE STORY: in high school, my best friend, Brittany and I used to study and practice our letters for fun. I know, we were real rebels :). There was a senior who had the best writing ever and we would look at her letters to figure out how she wrote each one and practice altering our writing over and over until it became second nature. Dorky, perhaps, but that’s what this 16 year old found entertaining.

    Who knew that years later, that same girl would be hired by Bill & Melinda Gates (of Microsoft fame) to design, assemble and hand-address 750 family christmas cards every year for 9 years in a row?! All that practice really came in handy.


    Here’s what I know about penmanship:


    Ever get a letter in the mail and know exactly who it is from just from the handwriting? This is what I love about penmanship – everyone’s is different and part of who they are.

    I found a letter in a box the other day and knew instantly that it was a poem Ryan’s grandfather, Pop, wrote for one of our kids. Pop passed away this year and having this piece of paper with his handwriting feels like such a treasure. It’s a little piece of him we get to keep and cherish.


    Digital communication has overtaken the need for handwritten documents. This is not always a bad thing as texting and email and digitally signing is both efficient and convenient, but I don’t believe it could or should ever replace the beauty and joy of a real signature or handwritten note.

    The fact that my second grader doesn’t get to learn cursive, but instead takes typing classes is bittersweet. Sure, he should learn to type, but I want him to learn his lettering, too!


    So many of you have expressed that you wish you had better handwriting and if you did you would use it more often. I totally get it. Good news is, you can make it better. There are simple techniques and exercises you can do to correct bad form, change old habits and improve the quality of your penmanship (NOTE: none of it is hard, it just takes practice).


    You’ve seen the gorgeously hand-lettered quotes and artwork all around the internet. It’s lovely. And it certainly makes you wish you could write like that.

    lettering samples / jones design companyWhat I have come to realize is that each of these artists understand the basis for good letter forming, know the proper techniques and put in time to develop their own lettering style. The line between penmanship and lettering is a thin one but once you master the first, the doors open up for crossing that line into lettering.


    If you want your penmanship to be better, if need help figuring out the best tricks, tools and techniques, if you’d love to learn how to make your own pretty lettering pieces, I’ve created a class just for you


    simplified penmanship - a workshop to help you improve your penmanship and develop your lettering style / jones design company

    This online course not only encourages handwriting but, more importantly, teaches techniques to make your natural penmanship something you’re proud of (and therefore excited to use!).

    Because most of us learn best by watching, this online class is a series of fifteen videos that walk you through projects and techniques to help improve your penmanship and develop your lettering style. You can watch and re-watch to learn new techniques and then pause the video to practice on your own. Printable paper and worksheets are included to help with practice.


    * a full resource guide with favorite paper, pencil, pen and eraser options
    * the five techniques that will instantly improve your handwriting
    * simple methods for practicing control, consistency and line forming
    * 13 examples of letter styles with worksheets to practice
    * practical tips for effectively spacing, centering and writing on a straight line
    * the best chalk art supplies and practices
    * a brilliant method for transferring art to a chalkboard
    * how to create fake calligraphy
    * four creative ways to address envelopes
    * start-to-finish lettering project


    The class and all its content takes place online in a password protected classroom. Go at your own pace, moving from section to section as quickly or slowly as needed.

    You will have unlimited access to the class for one year so you can always refer back to it as needed.

    To help you get a feel for the class and to learn more about what we’ll be learning, here is the introduction for the class:

    Are you ready to begin?!


    29 thoughts on “Improve Your Penmanship + Develop Your Own Lettering Style”

    1. I am really interested in taking this course too! It sounds like something I’d love to explore, and I was so excited when you mentioned you’d be offering it! I would certainly not want you to undersell yourself, but I can’t justify the $80 for an online hobby-type course either especially since I’d be paying almost another $40 for the US to CAD conversion. Too bad! :(

      1. Each video is between 5-20 minutes. You can move along at your own pace and stretch it out however long works for you. In order to really improve, you’ll want to practice – but even 5-10 minutes is great and it doesn’t have to happen just using the worksheets. You can make your shopping list look nice, work on your lettering when addressing an envelope or sending a note to school. Just learning the techniques and being conscious of the form will help in anything you write!

    2. My first non-A in school was penmanship in third grade. It was devastating! I would love to take this course and am glad you are offering it in the future. Not in the budget and not in my time schedule right now though I know it would be relaxing mentally.$80 is a lot but totally on par for a course like this and for your time.

    3. I write on my leg too!!! Any body part really, even my husband, he’ll ask what I’m writing! I did buy a calligraphy ink pen but didn’t really get on with it. Would love to be able to take this course but just can’t justify $80 on a handwriting course! Will just have to keep practising on myself ;) Hope it goes really well, such a good idea for a course x

    4. Wow! It looks like you’ve put a lot of time and thought into this course. I really liked your statements about handwriting being an extension of you. You hit the nail on the head with the mailbox example!

    5. Oh my goodness, I just about peed myself listening to a part of your video. When you said you have a “twitch” and you air write words on your leg…I do the same! I’ve never told anyone because I thought it was a sort of a bad habit or, like you said, a “twitch”. I’ve always loved working on my penmanship and picking up on other people’s unique handwriting to add to a project of my own.

      Thanks for the good laugh ? And blessings to you!

    6. When I was in elementary school, I used to love to teach myself to write calligraphy! I would practice for hours. I can still write neatly if I’m not in a rush. My goal is to teach my boys how to write in cursive this year – i can’t believe they don’t teach it in schools anymore!

      1. Two of my kids are left-handed so I know the different challenges that brings when writing! The class does not require any special tools or techniques that will exclude left-handed writers – you will just have to find your comfortable writing position (adjust your wrist, angle your paper, etc) and the lessons will all apply!

    7. Hi Emily, Even though I had years of strict penmanship instruction from the nuns at my Catholic school, I would still really like to improve upon my penmanship. I just don’t have $80.00 to spend on a penmanship class online.

    8. emily! i’m so excited about this class!!!! i have been hoping you would do a class like this for so long so i am THRILLED you are! i’ll have to wait to take it when life slows down a little bit (and you know, i like have a job. haha) but i promise i’m going to! super proud of you!

    9. I love that you write words in the air/on your leg in the car – I do the same thing! Funny little habit, eh? Your new class sounds like so much fun!

    10. Ahhh…i am quite a bit older than you….have raised MY 4 kids and now enjoy grandkids…..but I WAS the cheerleader who made the signs as well!! I have always loved beautiful handwriting, and have been told mine is pretty! I’ve dabbled in word art for several years, and actually got paid last year to do wedding invitations for my daughter’s friend! Having said all that….I’d love to take your class, but just cant afford it right now!! I get your posts in my email daily, so i’ll watch for a “sale” maybe soon. Thanks for your beautiful inspiring blog and work. I love everything you do and go to your archives constantly!

    11. I have been wanting to learn how to make interesting chalkboards etc but I’m left handed and wonder if it will work for me to take this class. Thanks.

      1. Great question. The class is taught from a right-handed perspective (mine), but all of it is applicable for left-handed writers. There are no special instruments or techniques that you will not be able to do being a lefty!

    12. Amanda | The Interior Maven

      Fun!! I am laughing so hard right now. In grade school, my best friend and I would rewrite our biology notes over and over until they looked exactly how we wanted them to for when we studied. It definitely helped, because then we could picture in our heads during those tests EXACTLY where on the page the answers were. Typing does NOT do that for you, for sure. And the fact that you mentioned writing in the air. Haahaha! I write the last word that triggered in my mind that someone said, or after a job where I typed a lot, I type everything on my husband’s arm while I’m falling asleep at night. ;) Glad I’m not the only one!

      I might sign up for this class!

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