Holiday cards. Dinner menus. Thank you notes. Wedding invitations. Yes, you can have them printed professionally, or zapped out on a printer or (shudder) e-mailed.
Unfortunately, in an age when all of the writing many of us do is typed out on a computer or a tiny phone, the art of handwriting our personal correspondence is becoming a quaint novelty — one that more than a few do-it-yourselfers hold on to.
But our handwritten works and crafts are more than just simple means of communication or things that just look elegant. They’re avenues of expression that convey how we feel and who we are in words and, as it turns out, in the handwriting itself.
Related Story on Yahoo Makers: The #1 Secret Dinner Party Weapon
“Handwriting is really a compilation of everything you’ve ever experienced and the way you’ve reacted to it,” says handwriting expert Sheila Lowe, a novelist (the Claudia Rose mysteries series, about a forensic handwriting expert who solves crimes), author of “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Handwriting Analysis” and president of the American Handwriting Analysis Foundation. “It all comes out in your writing.”
Sheila Lowe literally wrote the book on handwriting analysis. (Photo: photoenigmatic.com)
Lowe stresses that true handwriting analysis doesn’t yield complex psychological profiles derived from five words someone scribbled on a page. “I can’t just point to a stroke and say ‘this stroke means that you’re a victim,’” she says. “You have to look at the whole picture”.
Still, Lowe says there are some broad trends that emerge from certain elements of one’s writing. “The handwriting of somebody who has a lot of fears and anxiety is much more narrow — it pulls back,” she says. In contrast, “somebody who’s really outgoing and friendly and happy-go-lucky, their handwriting is going to be more expanded.”
So as you embark on your little handwritten DIY cards, letters, artwork projects, you may wonder what messages your writing might be sending to the world. So we asked Sheila to tell us what our handwriting is saying about us.
People who know what to look for can tell your mood just by looking at your handwriting. (Photo: Thinkstock)
Looking at handwritten party or wedding invitations can tell lots of things about the host’s festive mood. The handwriting of a host who’s feeling fun and frivolous, for example, “would be on the larger side — larger than medium which is 3 mm high,” says Lowe. “It would be more round and probably have somewhat inflated lower loops in their lower-case g’s, y’s and f’s.”
You can also look at the size and slant of the writing — two attributes, Lowe says, that vary according to our moods. “If you’re feeling sad or contemplative, then the writing tends to get smaller — it’s like you want to disappear,” she says. “If you’re feeling happy and expansive your writing may get bigger and lean more to the right,” which Lowe says indicates leaning towards other people.
Your handwriting provides a window into your personality. (Photo: Thinkstock)
Handwriting may indicate more than mood, which can vary day to day. It can also provide a window into the very personality of the writer.
“Somebody who has a lot of swirls and loops might be someone who wants to draw attention to themselves,” says Lowe. “Usually people who have a lot of self confidence don’t need all that stuff. They keep things fairly simple.”
Related story on Yahoo Makers: Letter Writers Seek Lovers
Lowe says your writing can also reveal how smart you are. “Highly simplified writing is a sign of intelligence,” she says. “If you have a lot of elaboration then the appearance is more important than the message.”
Your letter may contain a hidden message in your signature. (Photo: Thinkstock)
With handwritten notes, compare the signature with the rest of the writing on the note. Is the signature similar to the rest of the page? “The signature is like the cover on a book; it tells what you want to project to the world,” says Lowe. “Whereas the rest of the writing is going to tell the truth about what’s inside the book.”
And that makes things interesting when the signature looks different from the rest of the letter. Suppose, for instance, the signature is larger. “It says they may be one to project themselves as much more confident than what they feel inside,” says Lowe. In contrast, someone who writes bigger and has a smaller signature “may want to look more humble than they really feel. “
What does a bride think about her marriage — you might be able to tell by the signature. (Photo: Thinkstock)
Can you really tell how happy someone is in their marriage by how they sign their name? Yes, says Lowe, especially a wife who changed her last name. Lowe points to her own personal experience with her first marriage and how she wrote out her new last name.
“Earlier in the marriage, my handwriting was very small — it was not a happy marriage,” she says. “And then later I deliberately changed my signature to be more showy — a little more flamboyant, which is not really me. I was trying to assert my independence.”
When Lowe finally got divorced, that also was reflected in the way she wrote out her married name. “When I got divorced from my first husband I discovered that I was drawing a line under my name that often ended up crossing through his last name,” she recalls.
This could be something interesting to look for next time you get a thank-you note for a wedding gift.
“Handwriting reveals a lot about the way you are socially, the way you think, the state of your ego, your energy levels, your attitudes toward sex,” says Lowe, “all kinds of things.” On that score, handwriting — and its analysis — are far more emotionally expressive than any email or text. Handwriting: it’s the new emoji.