Given the use and accessibility of computers, it's no surprise that well-written cursive is a rarity these days. Although ornamental penmanship exists primarily today on wedding invitations and collegiate diplomas, a century ago, educators and professionals considered elaborate cursive penmanship essential for people of all ages. Penmanship leaders like Zaner and Spencer filled elementary schools with writing drills and teaching methods that emphasized endless practice, fine-motor strength, posture and a Zen-like focus to master aesthetically pleasant, legible handwriting. While instructions will help you begin writing in old-fashioned cursive, only continuous drills and practice will give you flawless, ornamental penmanship.
Assume proper posture at your writing desk. Sit with your feet planted firmly on floor and spine erect. Rest your lower forearms on the desk. Do not hunch or slouch, as this will disrupt the flow of your letters.
Hold the pen and paper at a slant. Slant your paper diagonally left while grasping the pen in your right hand. Slant your right hand so the tip of your pen faces the same direction as your paper. Place your left hand on the edge of paper to keep it steady.
Connect every letter at the central baseline using numeric formulas for distance and spacing. For example, when forming the letter "f," the upstroke must be twice the length of the downstroke. However, for a shorter letter, such as "e," the upstroke measures two-thirds the vertical length of the downstroke. Practice making proportionate lines and measured letters on narrowly lined paper.
Turn the flat edge of your ink pen horizontally on the upstroke of each letter. Correct pen positioning enables fluid, rhythmic writing motions without turning your pen or hand.
Write in a two-beat rhythm so the first beat indicates an upstroke and the second a downstroke. Lean your hand against your pinky finger to attain this controlled, melodic wrist movement. The pinky acts like a steering paddle to your hand while writing ornamental cursive.
Lift your pen only at the central baseline. Limiting your separation between pen and paper to the baseline creates uniform, flowing cursive letters with equal spacing.