Chicken Scratch: What Your Bad Handwriting Says About Your Personality

by Dan Scotti

If not for technology – and the evolution of typewriters to QWERTY keyboards to touch screens – I’m not sure this whole “writer” thing would’ve ever panned out. At least, not if I was doing any of that writing by hand.

On the off chance you don’t know me personally, or have never tried cheating off me on a short-response exam, my handwriting is absolutely grim.

My C's could easily be mistaken for O's, my E's look like L's and my Q's, well, my Q's don’t really end up looking like anything (at least not anything you could remotely trace back to our modern alphabet).

And it’s been this way for as long as I can remember – my sloppy handwriting (or, more aptly, “chicken scratch") is far from a new development. It’s not like I graduated from high school and said, “f*ck it,” before letting my penmanship go out the window along with the rest of my academic upkeep. I’ve written like sh*t for as long as I can remember.

In fact, one of the most bizarre things anyone has ever said to me -- and let’s be real, people have told me a lot of strange sh*t before -- happened way back in fifth grade.

After I just finished turning in an essay, my teacher divulged, “you know, you’d probably make a great serial killer.”

Now, if someone displayed certain personality traits typical of most “great serial killers,” it would warrant a call to the local authorities. As it happens, my teacher wasn’t referring to anything at all related to “personality.” At least not directly.

He was referring to my handwriting and how it slanted drastically to the right. He continued to explain a report he'd seen on graphology (the analysis of handwriting), which showed a glaring similarity shared among the handwriting of serial killers. Like my own, they all tend to slant rightward.

Of course, this wasn’t an exact science, and as with all things, there surely are exceptions. Still, my teacher presented a rather thought-provoking connection: one between handwriting and personality.

The Daily Mail expanded on this notion, in a recent study penned by Victoria Woollaston. According to Woollaston, there are upward of 5,000 unique personality traits that correlated to specific styles of handwriting.

Thanks to the research conducted by the National Pen Company in the US, and the nifty infographic provided, the links between what specific traits align with what unique branches have become more tangible.

Size of writing

From the onset, the size of one’s handwriting might be the most obvious feature – and it also might be its most significant one, too. According to Woollaston, the size of someone’s handwriting directly relates to how outgoing he or she is.

As the infographic shows, small handwriting usually enlists itself to people who are “shy” or “withdrawn.” As the size of the font grows, however, so does one’s affinity for social interaction.

People who are generally comfortable in social settings, but perhaps not the life of any parties, will pen average-sized letters. And those who are the lives of the party, will usually stand out from their handwritten work, too, as outgoing people tend to write in large letters.

Wide loops vs. narrow loops

The width of how you loop your L's or E's, in cursive, can often be a telltale sign of your nature. Typically, people writing in very narrow loops tend to be tenser, sheltered people, while wider, flowing loops equate to easy-going people.

The National Pen Company specifically uses the word “restricted” for people who write narrowly looped Ls, in cursive, and “relaxed” for people who write wider ones.

In consonance with this, the phrase “skeptical of others” was used to describe people who generally wrote narrow E's, while “open-minded” characterized people use a greater width.

Shapes of letters

Whether you're aware of it or not, the shape of your letters reveals aspects of your character. If you're typically inclined to round-off your letters, there’s a good chance you also have an inclination for the arts.

On the other hand, if you generally write your letters with sharp, angled, edges, there’s a greater possibility that you’re aggressive and also display great curiosity and intellect.

Now, those who connect their letters in that half-cursive, half-not type of way, are usually systematic, logical decision makers.

Again, there are exceptions. I mean, I typically connect my letters whether I’m writing cursive or not, and I wouldn’t say all of my decisions are “systematic.” But, hey, I’ll take it.

The slanting

If you’re not a slanter, and your handwriting usually manifests itself with good posture, give yourself a pat on the back; you’re probably “practical.” If your handwriting slants one way or the other, however, it often reveals a lot about your interpersonal skills.

“Rightward slanters,” such as myself, aren’t all “good candidates for serial killers,” as my 5th-grade teacher so eloquently put it (despite the statement’s validity).

For the most part, slanting to the right shows more openness to new experiences – both for life and other people.

Those who slant to the left, on the other hand, usually identify as “introverts.” Leftward slanters tend to keep to themselves and as Woollaston writes, “work behind the scenes.”