Development of handwriting speed and legibility in grades 1–9

Steve Graham*, William Schafer, Virginia Berninger, Naomi Weintraub

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

194 Scopus citations


The development of handwriting speed and legibility in 900 children in Grades 1–9 was examined. Each student completed 3 writing tasks: copying a paragraph, writing a narrative, and writing an essay. The children's speed of handwriting on the copying task typically increased from one grade to the next, but the pace of development was uneven during the intermediate grades and leveled off in Grade 9 as speed began to approximate adult speeds. In contrast, improvement in handwriting legibility on the 3 writing tasks was primarily limited to the intermediate grades. Girls' handwriting was more legible than boys' handwriting, and the girls wrote faster in Grades 1, 6, and 7. Right-handers were also faster than left-handers, but there was no difference in the legibility of their written products. Finally, handwriting speed contributed significantly to the prediction of legibility on the narrative and expository writing tasks, but the contribution was small, accounting for only 1 % of the variance.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)42-52
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Educational Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1998


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