Although cursive isn’t as popular as it once was, it remains a beautiful handwriting style with linked letters and flowing words. However, its decline in popularity has led to some misconceptions. For instance, do ALL letters connect in cursive?
Not all letters connect in cursive. You can only link letters in cursive if they end on the baseline, which some do not. This rule does not apply to all typefaces, though, and you can find particular cursive typefaces that link letters differently or not at all.
Now that we know that all letters don’t necessarily connect in cursive, we can see why that’s the case. This article will discuss how we write cursive and how that matters for joining its letters. Not only that, but we’ll also explain why schools taught cursive and how come so many places are no longer teaching it.
Can You Connect All Letters In Cursive?
Although you can connect all letters in cursive, you usually won’t do so when writing. With few exceptions, you only link cursive letters when the first one begins on the same line as the second.
Typically, that line is the baseline. The line on the page where most letters sit, excluding “j” and “f.” Likewise, letters with descenders (such as “g” or “p”) only have their descenders begin below the baseline for correct handwriting.
So, for example, you can connect “a” to “c” because both letters begin and end on the baseline. You could do the same for “a” and “o” since “a” ends on the baseline, where “o” begins.
However, you cannot link “b” to “c” since “b” doesn’t always end on the baseline. Instead, “b” ends on the mean line in many cursive styles. Because of that, you can’t draw a connector between it and the following letter. Likewise, when it ends on the baseline, it sometimes has its last stroke pointing inward to the rest of the word and, so, can’t be joined.
We see a similar issue with “s.” Although it usually ends on the baseline, it ends with a stroke that points left. Adding another loop outward to connect it to the following letter often looks too messy. So, “s” doesn’t always link either.
Similarly, “o,” “r,” “v,” and “w” do not necessarily connect to the other letters either. These letters end on the mean line, above the baseline.
Here, the mean line refers to the bar on the page which runs above the top of the average lower-case letter. So, for cursive, the mean line runs directly over the top of “a” and “o” but cuts in half taller letters like “b” or “h.”
Therefore, connecting letters like “o” can be difficult. If the following letter starts on the baseline, you won’t be able to join it since you’d have to draw a diagonal connector down to it from the “o.” Doing so looks messy, so it is best to avoid that.
Of course, these rules aren’t absolute. Schools worldwide teach cursive differently, and there isn’t a universal cursive style in America either.
So, what we’ve chosen to discuss is D’Nealian. That’s a hybrid between print and traditional continuous cursive that most American schools refer to as cursive today.
However, depending on your style and how neat your handwriting is, you can connect letters differently. Likewise, you might write individual letters with an alternate method, so joining them might be more manageable.
But that won’t be true for everyone. In standard D’Nealian cursive, the above rules apply. We recommend that you follow them since they make for neat and readable handwriting.
Do Capitals Connect In Cursive?
Capital letters are a different issue in cursive. See, writing in all capitals in cursive is almost unheard of – doing so ruins the streamlined elegance that has made cursive such a beloved handwriting font.
Because of that, nobody needs capital letters to connect. So, that means they could begin at any line on the page since linking them is unnecessary.
Furthermore, cursive capital letters must be bold and striking so that each new sentence or the proper noun is distinct.
However, there’s no real need for them to link to the following letter in the sentence.
For these reasons, capital letters don’t necessarily connect to the following lower-case letter. While many do (those ending on the baseline, like “A” and “L”), that’s by no means the default.
Letters such as “O,” “R,” “V,” and “W” inherit their lower-case counterparts’ issue of ending higher than where other letters begin. This issue is even more exaggerated for these capitals since they end close to the baseline above them.
Other capitals have this problem, too, even if their lower-case versions do not. “D,” “H,” and “P” end too high up to join to most other letters.
On the other hand, due to their flourishes, you can’t connect some capital letters because they end on the left side, not the right. “B,” “F,” “G,” “S,” and “T” all end closer to the previous sentence than the following lower-case letter. Because of that, you cannot link them unless you draw an additional connector line.
While drawing these connectors is possible, we don’t recommend it. Doing so ruins the unique and distinctive shape of each capital letter. Plus, the time you spend doing so makes these letters slower and clumsier to write.
What About Continuous Cursive?
Continuous cursive is a handwriting style where you link all letters in a word. Although this may seem similar to standard cursive at first glance, continuous cursive uses an entirely different technique, and you must learn it separately.
Unlike ordinary cursive, continuous cursive successfully connects all letters. It achieves that by beginning all the letters on the baseline instead of at different points.
Nevertheless, like with generic cursive, certain letters don’t end on the baseline. The letters “o,” “r,” “v,” and “w” have a top exit stroke instead. If you teach a child correctly, they can still join these letters properly by using horizontal connecting strokes.
Because of that, continuous cursive is more flowing and elegant than standard cursive. It avoids the few breaks you see in classic cursive or D’Nealian.
Furthermore, you teach children the entry and exit strokes alongside the letters themselves with continuous cursive. Doing so lets them join letters sooner, as they don’t need to learn to do so separately.
However, continuous cursive has a few flaws. That’s why schools don’t teach it widely across America and stick to D’Nealian instead. Compared to that font, continuous cursive is far more complex to learn and leaves many children struggling to make clear individual letters.
Also, continuous cursive demands that children unlearn certain habits too, such as beginning and ending every letter from the baseline in all situations. That, too, makes continuous cursive less practical for the average person.
Last, capitals don’t necessarily connect in continuous cursive either. That’s because, like with standard cursive, writing in all capitals is extremely rare in continuous cursive. So, it’s irrelevant if capitals connect, as long as they link to lower-case letters properly.
Are The Letters In A Cursive Typeface Joined?
With the advent of modern technology, cursive had to adapt. Indeed, it’s adapted to the computer screen too. Nowadays, you can find hundreds of cursive-style typefaces. Do they connect their letters, though?
Unlike handwriting, a typeface doesn’t need to account for how well letters flow together when a person writes them. Instead, the entire letter is a single symbol that the word processor generates when you type the appropriate key on your keyboard.
Because of that, cursive typefaces have a lot more freedom in the ways they link their letters. On the other hand, some streamline the letters without joining them, making them more legible. That’s especially important since graphic designers make heavy use of cursive typefaces.
So, while some mimic human handwriting, others adopt looks that would be utterly impractical for a person to write on paper. They end up looking similar to calligraphy, albeit with more complex flourishes and motifs.
We can divide these typefaces between true cursive fonts and script fonts. The latter intentionally mimics a person’s handwriting or uses elements derived from writing (such as fluid and varied pen strokes).
Script fonts come in formal and casual varieties. The formal scripts draw their inspiration from the quill writing of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, alternating between thin and thick strokes.
They look best on essential documents you only need to read once, like a wedding invitation or diploma.
On the other hand, casual script typefaces also join their letters. However, these fonts date later – to the early twentieth century.
Unlike formal scripts, casual script fonts have more stroke thickness and look like somebody drew them with a brush, not a pen nib. Because they’re so distinctive, advertisers make heavy use of them.
In contrast to script fonts, we have cursive fonts. Contrary to what their name suggests, these typefaces typically do not link their letters. Instead, they focus on replicating the style of streamlined brush lettering to make eye-catching designs.
Unlike human handwriting, cursive typefaces are highly diverse but generally legible. Although they aren’t as straightforward as a standard sans serif font, they’re far more distinctive and have much more character to them.
Why Is Cursive Taught?
Historically, all American children learned cursive. Schools would force children to learn cursive, not print. They justified this choice based on the science of the time and tradition.
However, modern science proves that cursive doesn’t offer many benefits. While people initially believed it was faster to write than print, recent studies have demonstrated the opposite.
The complex hand movements you need to write cursive take more time than writing print and frequently lift the pen up from the paper.
Likewise, cursive isn’t better for dyslexic students. The opposite is true. People with dyslexia struggle to recognize individual letters and words. Since you link letters together when writing cursive, a dyslexic child is at greater risk of confusing them.
Not only that, but you’ll also need to know which letter you’ll write next when using cursive. That way, you can join them properly. However, for dyslexic people, thinking this way is difficult.
Not only that, but cursive is also slower to teach, regardless of if the child has dyslexia or not. Instead of having children memorize individual letters, schools must teach children both the letters and connect them correctly.
Last, cursive doesn’t help with spelling either. Although writing entire words with their letters linked can help children memorize them, a child has to write the exact words frequently for that to help.
Most writing is in print anyhow. Because of that, children learning cursive can struggle more when spelling since the school prevents them from copying down words in the style they see them most often.
The Benefits Of Teaching Cursive
Cursive does offer some benefits, however. First, it’s traditional in America. Generations of children grew up learning cursive, and essential historical documents (like the Constitution) are also in cursive. In this way, cursive can connect you to your past.
Furthermore, cursive can also lead to higher grades. After all, children’s SAT essays in cursive scored higher than their print counterparts.
That is the case because cursive integrates the left and right halves of your brain. It’s a more involved process than writing print, and you can become more intelligent by using it. The synergy between your brain’s hemispheres improves your memory and language skills.
It also improves a child’s motor skills. While cursive’s complex movements are complicated for many children to learn, the process improves their hand-eye coordination. By focusing on the intricate letters and keeping their hand’s movement fluid, a child improves their motor skills by writing cursive.
Last, we’re confident that we can all agree that cursive looks beautiful. Even if you aren’t interested in calligraphy, there’s no disputing that cursive is more pleasant to read than print.
To conclude, not all letters connect in cursive. You can only join a letter if the previous one ends on the same line as the next one begins. For standard D’Nealian cursive, that line is the baseline. Generally, you can only join letters if both start and finish on the baseline.
You don’t connect capital letters in cursive either. Although you can link some to the following lower-case letter, that isn’t universal. Instead, most cursive capitals stand-alone to be more striking and distinct on the page.
You can connect all lower-case letters for continuous cursive since they all begin on the baseline. However, doing so takes practice, and continuous cursive is more challenging to teach than other contemporary styles.
Last, cursive typefaces don’t connect their letters. Script typefaces do, but cursive typefaces instead emphasize streamlined, flowing letters that can stand alone.