Friday, February 15, 2013

How Small Can You Write?

Back in high school my friends and I used to ask each other that question.  We'd all pull out our writing instruments of choice and compete to see who could write the smallest.  I usually won.  If I didn't have the smallest writing, then at least I had the smallest legible writing.

I've mentioned my small handwriting on this blog many times before, so now I thought it was time to both show you my handwriting and ask you the question as well: how small can you write?


The photo above shows a few examples of my handwriting (with a penny for scale).  The first line is my normal handwriting using a standard 0.7mm gel pen.  Usually I don't like using pens of this size because they require me to write larger than I'm comfortable with.  The second line is my normal handwriting with a 0.3mm Pentel Slicci gel pen, the finest pen I own.  This is the size of handwriting that is most comfortable for me, and that I naturally write with when I'm using a fine-tipped pen.  The final two lines are me actually trying to write small; the letters in these lines measure scarcely a millimetre high.  Here's a close-up of those lines:


My handwriting looks a bit messier here and I screwed up the "u" in the second line, but it's still legible.  And the letters on the penny look huge in comparison!  At this scale, I can also see that the ink was feathering quite a bit - not usually something I have an issue with with the Pentel Slicci, but when the writing gets this small even the tiniest bit of feathering becomes a big issue.  (And I also wasn't using Clairefontaine paper, which I should have been doing.)

Obviously, how small you can write depends quite a bit on the kind of pen that you're using.  I'd never be able to write this small with a 0.7mm pen, and I can so far only dream about how small I'd be able to write with a 0.1mm or even 0.05mm pen.  But how small you can go (legibly) also depends on factors such as the steadiness of your hand, your ability to see fine details, and your focus and concentration.  I would never write as small as those final two lines on a regular basis, but it is fun to give it a try now and then.

So, how small can you write?  How small is your regular handwriting?  Feel free to post photos on your blog and share the link here, if you like.

27 comments:

  1. I think my normal handwriting is medium to big (I prefer nib medium and up) and whenever I do smaller ones, it starts to look like chicken scratch...I like extra fine nib for drawing though.

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    1. I usually prefer fine nibs for drawing as well - generally, the finer the better!

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  2. Ooooh this sounds fun. Like a challenge of sorts :D I must try!!

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    1. Do give it a try, Azizah! And I shall look forward to seeing your results!

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  3. my handwriting is very small, the kind that attracts comments from people in meetings. i always attribute it to my particular combination of myopia and astigmatism, although I actually prefer the reason a friend gave me 20 odd yrs ago- a sign of genius... LOL.

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    1. My handwriting has gotten comments on occasion too. I usually tell people I trained myself to write smaller so that I would save paper - which is actually true. Though I like your reason as well!

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  4. My handwriting tends to be very veeeeery small if I'm just writing for myself. I'm always, fanatically, on a quest for a smaller pen that writes consistently well and, on the drawing side, that I can use to insert small hatching and details.

    I thought the Uni-Ball Signo Bit 0.18mm ("The tip is so small you can write words on a grain of rice," according to JetPens) would be the ultimate for taking teeny tiny notes, but I wasn't super impressed by the consistency. For the tiniest needs, I use the Sakura Pigma Micron 005 (0.2mm) or Copic Multiliner SP 0.03mm (although the tiniest needs are usually drawing or fixing lettering, rather than everyday writing). I use the Uni-Ball Signo DX 0.38mm, in bordeaux black, as my current daily note-taking pen of choice, for writing in extra info on a business card, etc. etc.

    No coins for scale, but one of these is on Rhodia dot paper, so if you know the spacing on the dots...:

    http://spqrblues.com/IV/?p=2159
    http://spqrblues.com/IV/?p=1704

    Thanks for a chance to rave about tiny pens, and also, incidentally, for breaking me out of my pen-related ennui (and for having a great blog). I think I'll pull out all my tiny pens today and see just how small I can write.

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    1. Thanks so much for the comment, meritahut! I haven't tried the Uni-ball Signo Bit yet, although the reviews I've read of it have usually been rather mixed. I can't imagine what your 0.03mm Copic Multiliner SP must be like - that sounds incredibly fine! Definitely not an everyday writer, though it would be fun to give it a try. The Uni-ball Signo DX 0.38mm is one of my favourites as well, although the green black is my colour of choice.

      Thanks as well for sharing your links. Your handwriting looks very neat and, of course, small :) The writing on the Rhodia dot paper looks about the same size as my everyday handwriting.

      Have fun with your small writing!

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  5. Heather, I think there's a Staedtler Pigment Liner in .05mm, (no misprint: 5/100 of a millimeter) available from Jet Pens, and maybe elsewhere.

    I, too, tend to think quality of handwriting suggests something about the writer's character, talents, etc. I don't have a shred of proof for the notion. The American fraud artist Bernie Madoff was subjected by an investor to graphological analysis, which revealed Madoff to be honest. Jack/Ohio

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    1. It would be fun to try out a pen that's as fine as that, but I doubt I'd get much use out of it. It would probably be too fine for everyday writing, although I might be able to use it for drawing.

      Like you, I also think that handwriting can reflect personality, although, as your example shows, it clearly doesn't reveal everything!

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  6. Hi
    At the University I used to cut my Stabilo 88, from 0.4mm to 0.2mm or even less. I can’t say I had taken good notes then but the words were nicely written. Now I have a Stabilo Sensor 0.3 which is good with my pocket notebook, or the Staedtler Pigma 0.1mm which also works for me. The only exception happens when I sign and for that puprpose I have the Pentel Tradio :-)

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    1. Thanks for the comment, Armando. It sounds like your everyday pens are very fine indeed! And I'm curious: do you write with the 0.1mm Staedtler Pigma, or do you use it for drawing?

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    2. Well I use them always for writting, since time for drawing is more and more scarce. Sometimes I have to hide myself at the office to write letters by hand, avoiding the keyboard. That's why I love my notebooks, all of them!

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  7. http://i9.photobucket.com/albums/a94/willsw/small_zpsa67db639.jpg

    I'm hitting about a 1mm limit using a Pilot 78G with an EF nib from a Pilot Penmanship.

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    1. Thanks for the link! I love how neat your writing looks even at such a small size.

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  8. I also write very small, people around me, especially at school, are still intrigued by it. I personally don't see the point, because my handwritten letters are about the size of common printed text… It also saves me paper and I think it's easier on my hand. Don't know why others usually write 2–3 times bigger… maybe because they use cheap promotional ballpoints that give around 1.0mm line.

    Here is my sample of everyday writing size: http://img802.imageshack.us/img802/2405/pererar.jpg

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    1. It certainly does help to use a finer pen if you want to write smaller. But I'm sure some people just find it more comfortable to write larger, no matter what pen they use.

      Thanks for the link! Your writing is lovely, and I also really like the ink colour that you used.

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  9. Using a Serwex 1362 reground to XXF and measured with a graduated loop ~0.7 mm

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    1. Ron, is Serwex the moderately priced India-made fountain pen?

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    2. I wish I had a more accurate way to measure my handwriting!

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    3. Ron, Heather, is there any chance of you collaborating on a brief guest review of the Serwex? Jack/Ohio

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  10. I haven't done that for years. I just tried on a blank piece of paper and my writing got obscured too easily :(

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    1. Sarah, it sounds like your ink is feathering or bleeding on the paper. Maybe try a different combination of pen and paper?

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  11. I think I'm an average size writer... but the finer the tip I use... the neater and smaller my handwriting becomes.

    My preference is to use tips that are .5 or below (current favorite is the .38 Uniball Signo DX).

    In the photo below I'm using a Zebra .7 --- > then a Pentel Slicci .25 mm.

    instagram.com/p/WNpZi7H0kw/

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    1. I agree with that, Vivian! When I use a larger size tip, my writing looks much more cramped and messy. I also prefer 0.5mm or less, and I also think Signo DX is a great pen. The 0.28mm version is nice as well.

      Thanks for the link to your photo! I can definitely see how your writing gets neater as it gets smaller :)

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  12. I normally write very very small, which older friends of mine predicted would get larger as I got older and presbyopic. But my writing hasn't changed even though I am now well and truly presbyopic (i.e., need bifocals).
    P.S. I miss Canadian pennies.

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    1. Probably once we get into a habit of writing a certain way, it is very hard to change, even if other things (like eyesight!) do change. I started teaching myself to write smaller in high school, and I think it would be difficult for me to start writing differently now.

      I miss the pennies, too :)

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