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Analyze Your Handwriting, by John Cowens

If the below was a sample of my handwriting, would you be able to determine my personality characteristics?

During my wonderful 27 years of teaching, there were times I questioned whether a student completed his or her assignment, or had someone else do it instead. Since I keep all student assignments and parent notes for each grading period (nine weeks), I would pull several handwritten assignments from his or her file and analyze the handwriting. Analyzing handwriting (graphology) can be used for legally identifying people. It can also be used to reveal one's personality characteristics.

The activity below provides a general introduction to the analysis of handwriting. Classification, human behavior and communication activities are provided for analyzing handwriting and revealing something new about your students. If nothing else, examining handwriting can develop analysis and observation skills – and it's fun!

  • white, unlined paper
  • a pen

Handwriting sample

What do you think President George W. Bush's handwriting sample revealed about his personality?


  1. You can analyze your own handwriting or someone else's. It's best to try to get a sample of "normal" handwriting; that is, handwriting that wasn't written specially to be analyzed. If you're getting a sample from someone else, don't tell them why you want it until they've finished writing. This way, they won't think about their writing, which can change its characteristics.

  2. A handwriting sample should be on a piece of white, unlined paper. Choose a specific topic to write about. The topic itself doesn't really matter. What's important is concentrating on the topic you're writing about – not on your handwriting! The sample should be made up of one or two paragraphs and finished off with a signature.

Analyzing the handwriting

  1. Letter Slope:
    Notice how the words and letters slant. This feature gives insights into a person's sociability. The greater the slant, the more extreme the personality.

  2.   • Right: Outgoing
      • Left: Shy
      • Straight: Mostly independent

    Note: if left-handed people slant their words to the left, switch Right and Left characteristics above).

  3. Line Slope:
    Notice the lines of handwriting slope on the page. Slope is influenced by a person's mood at the time he or she wrote the sample.

  4.   • Rising: optimistic and energetic
      • Falling: worried, lack of confidence
      • Straight: self-controlled, reliable

  5. Flow:
    Notice how words are connected to each other. This gives insights into how a person thinks.

  6.   • All connected: rational, logical
      • Some connected: imaginative, depends on hunches and intuition
      • Few connected: not always practical

  7. Pressure:
    Does the writer press the pen hard or softly against the paper? Turn the writer's paper over and check by using your finger to feel for grooves and ridges. This feature gives insights into health and willpower.

  8.   • Heavy pressure: healthy, forceful
      • Light pressure: physically weak

  9. Capital Letters:
    Notice how capital letters look relative to other letters. This feature gives insights into how someone views him or herself.

  10.   • Very large: arrogant, dishonest
      • Same size as small letters: humble

  11. Writing Specific Letters:

    1. "T" – This letter is one of the keys in analyzing handwriting. Notice how the "t" is crossed.

    2.   • Long line: overly aggressive
        • Short line: fixated on ideas
        • Thick line: wants to be in charge
        • Thin line: timid, weak will

    3. "I" – How is the "i" dotted?

    4.   • Dot is high above stem: focuses on tiny details instead of bigger   picture
        • Dot close to stem: doesn't share easily
        • Dot centered above stem: over-precise
        • Dot to the right of stem: tends to act quickly or hastily
        • Dash – like dot: anxious
        • Circle dots: stubborn, fussy
        • No dot: reckless, poor memory

  12. Signature:
    Most people develop and practice a signature, which isn't like normal handwriting. A signature is one's own personal "stamp" and often reveals what a person thinks he or she is like (or would like to be like). Compare the signature to the rest of the handwriting sample(s). Do the letters and/or capitals look the same? Is the signature decorated in any way? Is the signature larger than the rest of the writing? What insights can you get into the personality of a writer by examining his or her signature?

Do you agree with handwriting analysis? Do you think it's scientific? Do you think that one's handwriting can tell you something about his or her personality? Why or why not?

John Cowens teaches sixth grade at Fleming Middle School in Grants Pass, OR.