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I am interested in why people don’t change their handwriting to accompany their nib size.


collectorofmanythings

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So I just have a little question..

 

Why don’t people just change the size of their handwriting to accommodate the nib size?


I hear so many people say some things like,

 

”I would love this pen, but it has a medium nib and it makes my handwriting look blobby.” 


Or, “I just dislike extra-fine nibs so much, they put down too fine a line for my handwriting.”

 

And when I hear this I just wonder, “Well why don’t you write a little bit bigger or smaller?” 
 

I am not talking about people complaining about extra-fine nibs being too toothy or broad nibs being too smooth, but the specific things about people’s upset on how it makes their handwriting look blobby or shaky or whatever else.


It just seems like people have their handwriting size set in stone, when I know my handwriting personally gets larger or smaller depending on whether I am using a broad or fine nib. 
 

Thank you all for your responses,

William

 

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Changing the size of my script is not something I would do readily or often. Most of my writing is done rather quickly (note taking in meetings, for example) and deliberately changing the size up, or especially down, would take a significant cognitive and motor effort that is simply not worth the investment.

 

Sure, if you are writing for pleasure, or doodling, then it may be feasible. But if the intent is getting words on the page, then it is simply not practicable as I would spend more time thinking about the letters than the words.

Vintage. Cursive italic. Iron gall.

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My handwriting is on the small side and I prefer a broad nib.  I do try to adjust letter size, but I end up reverting to what would approach 12 to 12 pt. letters.  I can only guess is that this is the result of subconscious 'programming'.  This seems to confirm what the OP surmised in the first place. 

 

I have tried using medium and fine nib pens with poor to inconsistent results.  Adding to that, i simply find the 'skinny' line produced by a fine nib to be unappealing. 

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31 minutes ago, collectorofmanythings said:

So I just have a little question..

 

Why don’t people just change the size of their handwriting to accommodate the nib size?

 

Why don't you just change the size of the question to suit the person you're asking? 🤔

 

31 minutes ago, collectorofmanythings said:

It just seems like people have their handwriting size set in stone, when I know my handwriting personally gets larger or smaller depending on whether I am using a broad or fine nib. 

 

Ruled/grid lines on the page. Sometimes one gets a choice by when shopping for a personal notebook or notepad, but that will still be dependent on the page size he/she wants to or needs to use, and market availability of certain products. Try getting (dot) grid paper that are not marked for 5mm squares but 7mm squares! Yes, there are some Japanese grid notebooks marked for 3.5mm (and alternately lighter and darker lines, so also effectively 7mm) squares, but they are rare. Now try getting 8mm squares; I haven't seen any.

 

Sometimes one doesn't get a choice, when filling out forms designed and/or provided by someone else, e.g. government paperwork.

 

Sometimes one just wants to get that much information onto a single page, with or without ruled/grid lines already printed.

 

I endeavour to be frank and truthful in what I write, show or otherwise present, when I relate my first-hand experiences that are not independently verifiable; and link to third-party content where I can, when I make a claim or refute a statement of fact in a thread. If there is something you can verify for yourself, I entreat you to do so, and judge for yourself what is right, correct for valid. I may be wrong, and my position or say-so is no more authoritative and carries no more weight than anyone else's here.

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If the person  is   using the pen for  a work related purpose; then  factors such  as speed of writing become critical.   You can't spend valuable time trying to adapt to a  pen. The pen should help you not hinder your work.

 

Factors outside of  a person's control such as how weak the eye-sight becomes with age, are critical factor in deciding the size of their script as well.  

 

If the person  is  using  the pen for  leisure and  has   the time, and  the desire  to adapt  to the pen, then  he/she can go for it.

 

 

 

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I happily change writing style when it's for fun, especially if I'm working with a special nib or a dip pen, but my everyday hand was established over fifty years ago, and I'm not going to change it now!

 

I have two distinct styles. One is for other people to be able to read, and is, I think, pretty legible, a more or less bog-standard cursive (that looks more Scandinavian than British) with a few modifications and is written with a nib no narrower than a medium italic, but usually a broad italic, stub or even a little wider - up to about a 1.5mm depending on the brand. I'm equally happy with a flex nib for this, but without overemphasising any tine spread - I tend to restrict it without thinking to initial Caps and the occasional special character. 

 

Then I have note-taking scribble, usually done with a F or EF nib (though occasionally an M or regular B if that's what comes to hand), often more upright, especially if numbers are involved, and fairly often with bits of shorthand thrown in if I'm wanting to get something down verbatim. 

 

Neither of these require any thought whatsoever - my biggest problem tends to be keeping up with my brain, I have developed a bad habit of leaving letters (and even whole words) out as I want to be able to hand write at least as fast as I type (which is pretty fast), which I can do with scribble,  but not necessarily in a form legible to others. 

 

When I want to write for pleasure, that's a whole different thing, and can be at any size from UEF to a size 6 automatic pen, but it requires thought and time and effort.

 

I am very aware when I look at other people's handwriting, that a broader nib will often go a long way to smoothing out less beautiful handwriting - not everybody has been lucky enough to learn even basic cursive, let alone an attractive style. 

 

It's also a definite help for a hand which through age or infirmity has become less controlled - I vividly remember having to teach my father to write again after a stroke when he was still relatively young, and whilst his handwriting was never as attractive as it had been, switching to an slightly rounded italic nib definitely helped and made him feel far less self-conscious about how frustrating he found it.

 

Personally, I love the fact there there's so much choice available, and so many opportunities to find what suits each of us - it's not that long ago that it was one quill suits all - if you were lucky enough to be able to read and write in the first place of course!

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It's a funny thing, when I write with a European (Italian) EF nib my writing seems to end up taking up more space, although not so much vertically as horizontally. I'm not sure why this is, but it may have to do with me enjoying myself more with those nibs than with wider-line nibs, and so I am writing with more "flourish" (not any kind of formal flourish, just a feeling of it). I rarely buy anything larger than a Fine unless it is something interesting like an OM-CI or something. This is because my x-height letters have always been rather short, and with a wider nib the open ones tend to fill in. 

 

Not having the nib size I really want really only comes up if I find a bargain on a pen I really want, where there is only one nib choice available (if it's a new but discontinued pen, it may be a clearance or closeout sale, for example). If I buy it under those conditions, I am expecting eventually to have it re-ground to something I like. 

 

(Hint to OP or anyone else reading this: for these kinds of questions, you might try to pitch your tone more to "I am very curious why people do this particular thing, I really want to understand it better" rather than "why do this thing, why not do something else?" The literal meaning may be similar, but your readers will feel less like you think they are stupid.)

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9 minutes ago, Paul-in-SF said:

(Hint to OP or anyone else reading this: for these kinds of questions, you might try to pitch your tone more to "I am very curious why people do this particular thing, I really want to understand it better" rather than "why do this thing, why not do something else?" The literal meaning may be similar, but your readers will feel less like you think they are stupid.)

Oh my goodness! I just want to make it clear that I never meant to make anybody feel stupid. Looking back now I probably shouldn’t have used that wording. I am so, so sorry if anyone was offended!

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25 minutes ago, mizgeorge said:

I happily change writing style when it's for fun, especially if I'm working with a special nib or a dip pen, but my everyday hand was established over fifty years ago, and I'm not going to change it now!

 

I have two distinct styles. One is for other people to be able to read, and is, I think, pretty legible, a more or less bog-standard cursive (that looks more Scandinavian than British) with a few modifications and is written with a nib no narrower than a medium italic, but usually a broad italic, stub or even a little wider - up to about a 1.5mm depending on the brand. I'm equally happy with a flex nib for this, but without overemphasising any tine spread - I tend to restrict it without thinking to initial Caps and the occasional special character. 

 

Then I have note-taking scribble, usually done with a F or EF nib (though occasionally an M or regular B if that's what comes to hand), often more upright, especially if numbers are involved, and fairly often with bits of shorthand thrown in if I'm wanting to get something down verbatim. 

 

Neither of these require any thought whatsoever - my biggest problem tends to be keeping up with my brain, I have developed a bad habit of leaving letters (and even whole words) out as I want to be able to hand write at least as fast as I type (which is pretty fast), which I can do with scribble,  but not necessarily in a form legible to others. 

 

When I want to write for pleasure, that's a whole different thing, and can be at any size from UEF to a size 6 automatic pen, but it requires thought and time and effort.

 

I am very aware when I look at other people's handwriting, that a broader nib will often go a long way to smoothing out less beautiful handwriting - not everybody has been lucky enough to learn even basic cursive, let alone an attractive style. 

 

It's also a definite help for a hand which through age or infirmity has become less controlled - I vividly remember having to teach my father to write again after a stroke when he was still relatively young, and whilst his handwriting was never as attractive as it had been, switching to an slightly rounded italic nib definitely helped and made him feel far less self-conscious about how frustrating he found it.

 

Personally, I love the fact there there's so much choice available, and so many opportunities to find what suits each of us - it's not that long ago that it was one quill suits all - if you were lucky enough to be able to read and write in the first place of course!

Very interesting post- thank you for your response! And I am so sorry about your father. That is so unfortunate.

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15 minutes ago, Paul-in-SF said:

(Hint to OP or anyone else reading this: for these kinds of questions, you might try to pitch your tone more to "I am very curious why people do this particular thing, I really want to understand it better" rather than "why do this thing, why not do something else?" The literal meaning may be similar, but your readers will feel less like you think they are stupid.)

I just changed the title. Thank you for your feedback! I feel horrible if I made anyone feel stupid.

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I have no problem with how the question was originally worded. LOL. I don't see how that implies a lack of intelligence in any way at all. But people like to perceive insult in all things these days, so....

 

I am one of those people who do adjust my writing, but only to an extent. And it is easier for me to go smaller than bigger (I already write pretty large by default). Lets say I prefer medium and broad nibs (because I do, LOL!) and I write in what would be....let's call it a 12 pt "font". I may jump up to a 14 or 16 pt "font" for a 1.1 or a 1.5 mm stub. But if I use something very fine, like a Pilot fine for example, I can easily go MUCH smaller...down to a 10, 8, 6. And if I switch to print, I can go smaller still. It isn't for fun, and I never write that way unless there are serious space constraints, but I CAN....if the pen will do it. A good mechanical pencil with the auto rotating lead feature is actually really fun to use to write tiny.

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1 hour ago, Paul-in-SF said:

but your readers will feel less like you think they are stupid.

May I suggest that is an unlikely outcome that is solely dependent upon personal sensitivities -- and a little insecurity perhaps?

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Whether or not the OP was insinuating I am a fool (plenty of evidence for that, anyway), almost all of my writing is on ruled paper or with a guide underneath, so I don't have the freedom to write much larger.  (I prefer it that way to keep my writing straight.) 

 

The original post raises an interesting question.  Since compatibility comes down to several factors (nib, pen design, ink, paper, handwriting, personal taste, etc.), most of the factors must be arbitrarily fixed, with the rest optimized.  Usually, it is narrowed down to the first four, but it doesn't have to be, which is the OP's point.  I fixed paper, some pens, and ink before adding new pens that fit in with the rest.  What did y'all do?

"Nothing is new under the sun!  Even the thing of which we say, “See, this is new!” has already existed in the ages that preceded us." Ecclesiastes
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9 minutes ago, Checklist said:

I fixed paper, some pens, and ink before adding new pens that fit in with the rest.  What did y'all do?

 

I usually fix the desired size and look of my handwriting for the occasion, then pick the right tools and materials to suit. The pen, being usually the most expensive item out of pen, ink and paper, is the one to which I'm prepared to give the least leeway.

I endeavour to be frank and truthful in what I write, show or otherwise present, when I relate my first-hand experiences that are not independently verifiable; and link to third-party content where I can, when I make a claim or refute a statement of fact in a thread. If there is something you can verify for yourself, I entreat you to do so, and judge for yourself what is right, correct for valid. I may be wrong, and my position or say-so is no more authoritative and carries no more weight than anyone else's here.

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I tend to write small for "normal" handwriting (i.e., as opposed to the odd occasion when I do calligraphy (which is generally with a dip pen and where I have ruled guidelines for the x-height and ascenders and descenders, based on the particular hand and the nib width: so, as an example, I might mark nib-width time five for the x-height of something written in Uncial by marking alternating squares on a piece of scrap paper and use the top and bottom of the stack as the base for the rule lines on what I'm working on).  

For normal writing, I tend to write small even with a moderately "fat" nib (i.e., a B or a stub).  I tend to prefer college ruled paper, but even then will likely cram two lines of writing per line.  I think that because I write small, I tend to gravitate towards F and M nibs, and European EFs (for for a Japanese pen I won't go finer than an F, though because I dislike Asian EFS -- they make my handwriting really spidery looking.

Ruth Morrisson aka inkstainedruth

"It's very nice, but frankly, when I signed that list for a P-51, what I had in mind was a fountain pen."

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I have used caps for lettering on drawings for over 40 years. I can adjust the height of this lettering to fill up or squeeze into the space available.

 

Cursive handwriting is different. This cannot be readily adjusted in height but can be slightly adjusted for width so that a word written with a narrow F can take up less line space that when written with a wider M.

 

Pick a nib and love it. It's the writing experience that appeals not the appearance.

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A fun question... :D

 

For me, my handwriting does change depending on nib size.  A big, HOWEVER, it was a choice and learnt behaviour in that it didn't come natural.  It was uncomfortable at first...

 

When I first got into fountain pens, I used only F and EF nibs, finding wider nibs intolerable because the 'lines were too wide for my writing'. If I only used fountain pens at work, then I'd likely have remained like this since I can't control paper quality at work among other factors that I'll expand on later.

 

At home things are very different.  I have control over paper and inks.  I discovered that a wider nib that offers some line variation was actually nice to use and that I was missing out on the experience.  I found that wider nibs were generally smoother and that with using them more ink got to paper, allowing for my inks' characteristics to better show.  Although I still dislike a modern broad nib that puts down a uniformly broad line, I now love the stubby broad and medium nibs that I have.  I do recall my period of transition where I would write with a broader nib and then desire to go back to a F nib so my eyes could experience the comfort of familiarity, I guess.  A M would be the not so 'radical', at the time, step up in line width.  :smile: This is no longer the case as of quite recently. I now use a mix of stubby B, M and regular medium nibs at home. My handwriting is bigger because of this,  a situation I actually had to warm up to. 

 

Now, my pens with F and EF nibs are used for work.  Writing in my work environment is very different from home.  I am typically busy when doing so.  I often write while standing and the paper is often of variable absorbance.  So you don't really know what sort of line you'll get.  The paper may be in a thick file or on its own with nothing to press on but the table surface on which I'm writing.  I tend to 'just write', i.e., more instinctively, which is how I wrote for most years of my life.  A F or EF nib is also more adaptable to situations like filling out forms or writing in spaces where you have to make your writing smaller to fit.  Overall, my handwriting at work is smaller than at home.

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19 hours ago, maclink said:

A fun question... :D

 

For me, my handwriting does change depending on nib size.  A big, HOWEVER, it was a choice and learnt behaviour in that it didn't come natural.  It was uncomfortable at first...

 

When I first got into fountain pens, I used only F and EF nibs, finding wider nibs intolerable because the 'lines were too wide for my writing'. If I only used fountain pens at work, then I'd likely have remained like this since I can't control paper quality at work among other factors that I'll expand on later.

 

At home things are very different.  I have control over paper and inks.  I discovered that a wider nib that offers some line variation was actually nice to use and that I was missing out on the experience.  I found that wider nibs were generally smoother and that with using them more ink got to paper, allowing for my inks' characteristics to better show.  Although I still dislike a modern broad nib that puts down a uniformly broad line, I now love the stubby broad and medium nibs that I have.  I do recall my period of transition where I would write with a broader nib and then desire to go back to a F nib so my eyes could experience the comfort of familiarity, I guess.  A M would be the not so 'radical', at the time, step up in line width.  :smile: This is no longer the case as of quite recently. I now use a mix of stubby B, M and regular medium nibs at home. My handwriting is bigger because of this,  a situation I actually had to warm up to. 

 

Now, my pens with F and EF nibs are used for work.  Writing in my work environment is very different from home.  I am typically busy when doing so.  I often write while standing and the paper is often of variable absorbance.  So you don't really know what sort of line you'll get.  The paper may be in a thick file or on its own with nothing to press on but the table surface on which I'm writing.  I tend to 'just write', i.e., more instinctively, which is how I wrote for most years of my life.  A F or EF nib is also more adaptable to situations like filling out forms or writing in spaces where you have to make your writing smaller to fit.  Overall, my handwriting at work is smaller than at home.

Very interesting.. thank you!

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22 hours ago, inkstainedruth said:

I tend to write small for "normal" handwriting (i.e., as opposed to the odd occasion when I do calligraphy (which is generally with a dip pen and where I have ruled guidelines for the x-height and ascenders and descenders, based on the particular hand and the nib width: so, as an example, I might mark nib-width time five for the x-height of something written in Uncial by marking alternating squares on a piece of scrap paper and use the top and bottom of the stack as the base for the rule lines on what I'm working on).  

For normal writing, I tend to write small even with a moderately "fat" nib (i.e., a B or a stub).  I tend to prefer college ruled paper, but even then will likely cram two lines of writing per line.  I think that because I write small, I tend to gravitate towards F and M nibs, and European EFs (for for a Japanese pen I won't go finer than an F, though because I dislike Asian EFS -- they make my handwriting really spidery looking.

Ruth Morrisson aka inkstainedruth

Hmm… very interesting. Thank you!

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22 hours ago, Checklist said:

 

Whether or not the OP was insinuating I am a fool (plenty of evidence for that, anyway),

 

What do you mean by that?

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