Rules for penmanship

Rules for Penmanship  (1806) 
by James Campbell







Writing-Master in Paisley.

The Art of Writing constitutes an essential part of polite Education, and is ſo generally useful, that without a competent knowledge of it, no business of any importance can be transacted.

Thy pow'rs O Pen! with wonder strike our eyes,
When from thy point the graceful Figures rise.


Printed by J. Neilson,



The only motive that has induced the Author to publish this Manual, is the importance of the art which it is intended to elucidate. By analyzing letters into their constituent parts, the Pupil will more readily acquire an accurate knowledge of their different proportions.

The long experience in teaching, and the particular attention which he has paid to the useful and important art of Penmanship, will, it is hoped, justify him in offering this small work to the Public.

Paisley, 1st. Jan. 1806.

A Recipe for making Ink,

By the late celebrated Dr. BLACK, Professor of Chemistry in Edinburgh.

Take of Logwood one ounce, Green Vitriol one ounce, Galls three ounces, and Gum Arabic one ounce and a half, soft water two mutchkins and a half. First, boil the Logwood in the water, then pour the hot infusion, strained, upon the Galls: the Galls should be finely powdered, the Liquor is then taken out and strained, and the Vitriol and Gum Arabic are added. The Galls should remain in the Logwood iufusion for two or three days, then add the other materials, which should remain five or six days longer; and then strain it through a cloth, and it will be fit for use.




Chance may spoil
A single aim; but Perſeverance must
Prosper at last. Home.

o RESEMBLES an oval, its breadth is two thirds of its length, and is the ſame with that of n, and is uſed as a meaſure for other letters.

The diſtance from the top to the bottom of o is generally called a length, and from the left to the right ſide of it a breadth, and the breadth of its downward ſtroke a thickneſs.

In making the o, begin on the right ſide, a third below the upper line.

When o forms a part of other letters, as a, d, g and q, it is a thickneſs leſs than a breadth.

b Is four lengths, and the ſame breadth as a and d at the bottom.

c Is made in the ſame manner as an o, only carry up the hair ſtroke, and make a ſquare cut inclining to the body of the letter.

d Is three lengths, and ſimilar to a and b at the bottom.

e Is the ſame as a c, except the loop at the top, which is half a length, and half a breadth.

f Is three lengths above the upper line, and three lengths below the under one. The loop at the top is two and a half lengths, and two-thirds of a breadth; and the croſs ſtroke paſſes through at the upper line.

g Is an o and a j joined together.

h Is a downward ſtroke of three lengths, having joined to it the laſt half of n.

The dots of i and j are on the ſame parallel with the top of p and t.

j Is four lengths, and the loop is two lengths, and two thirds of a breadth.

k Is the ſame as b, only at the right hand ſide, the middle of the formative part is turned in towards the downward ſtroke.

l Is four lengths, and the loop is the ſame as that of y.

m Is a full breadth, both in the firſt and ſecond part.

n Is the ſame in breadth as o.

o And i joined make a, o and l make d, o and j make g.

p Is one length above the upper line, and three below it, and is one breadth.

q Conſiſts of a narrow o, with a ſtraight full ſtroke three lengths downward from the upper line; and may be either looped at the bottom on the right hand ſide at one third of a breadth, or left off abruptly.

r The laſt part of this letter when s follows, ſhould be a breadth and a half from thickneſs to thickneſs.

ſ is the ſame above the upper line as an l , and the ſame below it as a j.

s Is a breadth, and ends with a full dot upon the hair ſtroke. (The dot is now frequently omitted.)

t Is one length above the line, on a line with the top of p, and the dots of i and j.

u Is the ſame with the two firſt downward ſtrokes of an m inverted.

v Is the ſame with the laſt part of n, but the ſhade at the top muſt incline inwards.

w Is the ſame with n, only the ſhade inclines toward the left, as in b and v.

x Is formed of two c's joined together, the firſt inverted.

The firſt part of y is the laſt part of the etter m or n prefixed to a j:

z Should have a body ſtroke at the beginning, middle, and laſt part of the letter, and the ſame length below the line, as g j ſ y. & Is uſed as a contraction for and in writing.


b h k and l, are made four lengths of the ſmall letters, when looped.

The letters p t riſe one length above the line in text and half text, and in proportion in ſmall write.

In croſſing t, the hand ſhould be raiſed off the paper, and the hair ſtroke be equal on both ſides, and very fine.

The letters f p q and y are the ſame length below the line, when left off abruptly, as b d h k and l are above the line.

The loops at the tops of f and long ſ, ought to be ſimilar. At the bottom, the former is turned to the right and the latter to the left hand.

The dot of s and the firſt part of x should be the ſame.

In making m, take the hair ſtrokes nearly from the bottom of the downward ones, and join all the letters that conſiſt of bottom turns exactly in the middle: and lift not the pen oftener than is abſolutely requiſite to join the letters properly.

In making on, ſome take the hair ſtroke from the middle, others from the top of o. The latter I would in general recommend.

The letters which go above the line, and cannot be looped, are d p and t.

When y ends a word as in lady, it may be turned in the ſame manner as q.

The laſt part of n is often made for the letter r, in current hand writing. This appears to be an innovation, which ought not to be frequently uſed.

The looped letters are preferred in current hand writing, as they give a ſuperior degree of neatneſs.

The above rules may be applied to the half text, only attention muſt be paid to the diſtance between words, which ſhould be greater than betwixt letters.

N.B It is common in marking down figures, to make them ſtand a little more upright than the writing with which they are connected, and double the ſize of the letters.

The irregular diſtances between different letters are of ſeven kinds.

1ſt. Between the downward ſtrokes of r and i are one and a half breadth.

2d. Between i and m or n after it, one and a half breadth.

3d. Between the downward ſtrokes of c and i, one and a half breadth.

4th. Between the two vowels in good, &c. two thirds of a breadth.

5th Between i and z, one and a half breadth.

6th Between the downward ſtrokes of v and w, two breadths.

7th. Between the downward ſrokes of w and x, two breadths.

If circumſtances will admit, it is preferable to ſit with the left hand to the light.


ALL capital letters ſhould be at leaſt double the ſize, and ſtronger than the ſmall letters.

Of the three capital letters A, M, and N, the dots at the firſt part of the letters from left to right ſhould be half the height of the ſmall letters.

In making B,F,I,P,R,S,T, and the firſt half of X, the dots ought to be one half in height of the ſmall letters; and when turned round, as high as the line or ſmall letters.

All the above letters may be either doted or turned round, at an equal diſtance from the hair or body ſtroke. The laſt method ſeems preferable.

The turn at the bottom of D, L, and Q, ought to riſe one third of the ſmall o.

The firſt parts of the three letters, U, V, and Y, ought to be the ſame.

The laſt parts of N and W are ſimilar.

The parts of G, J, and Y, which go below the line, ought to be ſimilar, and the under part of Z, is a C inverted.

The firſt parts of H, J, and K, ought to be ſimilar; only the J goes below the line as j.

The firſt parts of W and Z, ought to be ſimilar.

The firſt and ſecond parts of B and R are ſimilar to P, the third part of B is turned towards the left, and that of R towards the right hand, the laſt part of K is turned in the ſame manner.

Make F and T ſimilar, only the F has a hair ſtroke drawn through the downward ſtroke with a ſmall loop.

The firſt parts of C and G ought to be ſimilar, and by joining j or the laſt part of q to C, we make G.

J ought to be made when a vowel or diphthong follows it, as in June and Joy, and I when a conſonant comes after it, as in Idle.

The method of making the other parts of the capitals depends much upon the taſte of the writer.

Opportunity to be improved.—Shakespeare.

There is a tide in the affairs of men,
Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;
(illegible text)mitted, all the voyage of their life
bound in shallows, and in miseries.

Bitter Jesting.—Johnson.

(illegible text)f all the griefs that harrass the distress’d,
(illegible text)re the most bitter, is a scornful jest.
(illegible text)te never wounds more deep the gen’rous heart,
than when a blockhead’s insult points the dart.


(illegible text)f all the causes which conspire to blind
(illegible text)an’s erring judgment, and misguide the mind,
That the weak head with strongest bias rules,
Pride, the never-failing voice of fools.

Love and Esteem better than Riches.—Pope.

To whom can riches give repute or trust,
Content or pleasure, but the good and just!
Judges and senates have been bought for gold,
Esteem and love were never to be sold.

Vanity of ManGay.

(illegible text)h! what is life! with ills encompass’d round,
Amidst our hopes, fate strikes the sudden wound:
To-day, the statesman of new honour dreams,
To-morrow, death destroys his airy schemes.

Social Nature of ManCowper.

God, working ever on a social plan,
By various ties attaches man to man:
He made at first, though free and unconfin'd,
One man the common father of the kind.

Mutual influence of Vice and Errour.—Cowper.

Faults in the life breed errour in the brain;
And these, reciprocally, thoſe again.
The mind and conduct mutually imprint
And stamp their image in each other's mint.

The Sower.—Thomson.

While thro' the neighb'ring fields the sower stalks,
With measur'd step; and lib'ral throws the grain
Into the faithful bosom of the ground:
The harrow follows harsh, and shuts the scene.

Love of Solitude.—Tickell.

Sweet ſolitude, when life's gay hours are past;
Howe'er we range, in thee we fix at last;
Toss'd through tempestuous ſeas, the voyage o'er,
Pale we look back, and bleſs thy friendly shore.

Want of Reflection.—Melmoth.

The mind not taught to think, no useful store
To fix reflection, dreads the vacant hour,
Turn'd on itself, its num'rous wants are seen,
And all the mighty void that lies within.

This work was published before January 1, 1927, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.