Sharing the Story: Write it by hand

Heidi Swapp

Pages by Pam Kopka. Supplies Patterned papers: Daisy D’s Paper Co.; Transparency: Artistic Expressions; Computer font: Times New Roman, Microsoft Word; Pen: American Crafts; Other: Tulle and teardrop sticker.
I know, you’re not the biggest fan of your handwriting. It’s fine for your grocery and to-do lists . . . but your scrapbook pages? You’re afraid it will hurt the look or you’ll mess up. Am I right?

I hope you’ll reconsider. Writing some or all of your journaling adds a distinct, personal touch. It’s so you! Here are three quick, doable solutions for improving your handwriting today.

Writing by hand can seem hard. What if you forget a word or run out of space? What if your sentences run uphill or downhill? What if your journaling is lengthy and you’re short on time? You’ll find help here, along with sample pages by yours truly (that’s me!), Pam Kopka and Veronica Ponce.

Solution 1: Use Pencil
I’m always surprised at how many scrapbookers pick up a pen and start journaling without preparing first. Don’t do it! Jot down first on scratch paper what you want to say, then pencil in your words and reread them before committing pen to page. You can then concentrate fully on how the writing looks.

Here, Pam Kopka did freeform journaling on a layout about a painful topic. “I found it very therapeutic,” says Pam, “and in many ways it captured the emotions I was feeling. Still, I knew that a few inconsistencies could be distracting, so I did a second version where I drew in lines, letters and baselines first. I always do this when I need my writing to be most uniform.”

Ideas to note: Pam used a fine-tip pen to write more precisely on the variation. The lyrics are part of the patterned-paper design.


  • Write ever so lightly and use a white eraser—not the flesh-colored variety—to erase mistakes without smudging.
  • Hold your “planning” paper up to a computer screen, light box or window to help determine space and fit.

    Sharing the Story: Write it by hand
    Page by Heidi Swapp. Supplies Decorative tape, chipboard theme, clipboard shapes, min tag, rub-on letters and jewels: Heidi Swapp; Ribbon: Making Memories and May Arts; Other: Silk flower.
    Solution 2: Watch Size and Shape
    Take your time! As you write, concentrate on making each letter approximately the same size and shape. Keep lowercase letters the same height.

    To help on letter shape, imagine you’ve got a row of text boxes lined up (just like you’d see on a credit card application). The boxes might be square—or they might be tall rectangles or long rectangles. Note how they all provide the same amount of space to fill. Visualize keeping each letter in its imaginary “box” as you draw it.


  • Proofread your text for misspellings or omissions before going over it with pen. Tip:
  • Keep the spacing between words similar—it will look cleaner and be easier to read.

    Sharing the Story: Write it by hand
    Pages by Veronica Ponce. Supplies Computer font: Love Letter, downloaded from the Internet; Poem: Adapted from “Hug O’ War” by Shel Silverstein.
    Solution 3: Remember—It’s Not “All or Nothing”
    A little handwriting goes a long way! If you have a lot to say, type most of your message on the computer and accent with hand lettering like Veronica Ponce did in the second version here. (Isn’t this a cool page? A friend showed it to me online.) Write directly on the layout or, if you’re a digital scrapbooker, scan the words you’ve written and place them electronically.


  • Accent your handwriting with stickers, embellishments or stamps.
  • Overlap your journaling and title for variety.

    More Help from Heidi
    Love Heidi and her handwriting? You’ll find hundreds of tips and ideas in her new book, Love Your Handwriting. Learn to create your own “fonts.” Discover a surprisingly handy tool for exact spacing. Try new title effects. Create “voluptuous” letters. You’ll get excited about writing again with this cool book and workbook. Not only that—you’ll receive a starter set of writing tools. $29.95. Available now. To order, visit

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