Cursive: A Brief Background

If you have ever found yourself in a museum, watching a film about the middle ages, or received a letter from your grandmother, chances are you found yourself deciphering words created from long strings of unbroken, web-like letters. Far removed from the blocky, overlarge letters you wrote in primary school, this ancient, flowing form of handwriting is known as “Cursive.” If you are older, you probably remember learning to write cursive in school, but if you are from a younger generation it may be that you have never been taught to use or read this cryptic form of writing.



Cursive, sometimes referred to as “script” or “joined-up writing” is a style of handwriting in which each of the letters within a word are joined together to give the script a flowing appearance. Words written in a cursive style are typically made in a single pen stroke though this varies from person to person and between styles. The idea behind cursive is that joining the letters together can ultimately make handwriting quicker, easier, and more attractive to read rather than blocky, unconnected letters.




Cursive, or joining letters in a flowing form, exists in many written languages including Russian and Arabic. In English or when using the Latin alphabet, cursive is divided into casual cursive and formal cursive. Casual cursive is a more everyday form of writing that utilizes both joined and separate letters.Formal cursive is the form that has traditionally been taught in schools and consists entirely of joined letters. Formal Cursive has famously been used in historical national artifacts, such as the United States Constitution or the English Bill of Rights.


Cursive is mandatory in languages like Arabic, in which the script flows together and connects by design. In languages that use the Latin alphabet cursive is more a means of formalizing handwriting rather than a necessary means for the language. Cursive has existed in some form in the western world since Roman times and has featured in written language for even longer. Despite the fact that cursive has been a familiar trapping in literature for centuries, its place in the modern world is one that is frequently debated and uncertain for a variety of reasons.

Traditionally, Cursive has frequently been taught in elementary or primary school.However, this is a tradition that has been steadily declining for some time. While cursive was once a mainstay in public education, the advent of word processing, the prevalence of computer use, and changing school curriculum (such as the adoption of Common Core in the United States, a curriculum that does not have provisions for Cursive) has caused cursive to become much less ubiquitous in the United States and Europe. According to a piece from the Washington Post entitled “Cursive Handwriting is Disappearing from Public Schools”, forty-five of the fifty United States have adopted a curriculum for their state public schools that does not require cursive to be taught to students at any level. Although changing curriculum may appear to be responsible edging cursive out of education, it is likely that the curriculum is simply changing to adapt to a technologically saturated world.
The prevalence of modern technology like tablets and laptops seem to be primarily responsible for the disappearance of cursive from the education system. The laptop computer and the tablet have replaced written notes in most college classrooms, eliminating the utility of handwriting skills such as cursive. Likewise, digital communication methods such as e-mail and text messaging have supplanted handwritten letters as the norm for written or long-distance communication. This has lead many to believe that cursive is an obsolete or useless skill to learn.
How to write cursive letter Q
Nonetheless, cursive is still a writing style that many will encounter in their day-to-day lives and thus it is important to be familiar with cursive letters. Although it is less common today, cursive is still a beneficial skill to possess. Some states, such as Tennessee and California, have attempted to reinstate cursive in English classes or plan to reintroduce cursive to the curriculum in the near future. Additionally, research has found that learning cursive can have educational benefits. A study conducted in Quebec found that students who were taught cursive in school had higher spelling results and better grades. The researchers also claim that learning cursive at a young age helps children avoid common errors such as writing letters backwards, as cursive letters are designed to be connected and thus cannot be written backwards. Studies such as this suggest that cursive, though obsolete in use, still has real world application.



With these benefits in mind, cursive appears to be a skill that warrants proficiency. This includes both knowing how to read and comprehend cursive handwriting as well as being able to write in cursive yourself. The following will serve as a brief tutorial on writing the letter “Q” in both the upper and lower case cursive forms. If you follow the steps and copy the strokes indicated by the pictures, you’ll be using these cursive letters in no time!


The cursive letter “Q” is an easy letter to learn with the proper instructions. Cursive is infrequently taught today, and is easily forgotten by anyone who has fallen out of practice. Thus it can be difficult to remember how to form many cursive letters should you grow rusty. What follows will be a guide on how to form both the capital and lower case forms of “Q” in cursive.

Here is an image of the capital case of a cursive “Q.”



As we can see, the capital “Q” is formed by a single pen-stroke. Beginning at the top of the line, the pen should curve around and then reverse direction, coming down diagonally to the bottom of the line where it switches direction again. Remember to place a loop at the beginning of the letter and then another at the bottom of the curve before pulling right to add the tail. The stroke should be dragged off to the right where it can join together with the “u” that always follows.



The capital case of “Q” is not unlike the number “2” and should generally take this shape. However, as cursive is a part of handwriting, the shape of the letter may be different depending upon who is writing.

Here is a more simplified version of a cursive Q. This upper case form is more similar to a standard Q, and the only difference is that the tail at the bottom of the Q is dragged out to connect to the following letters.


This altered form of Q demonstrates that different styles of lettering are frequently used in cursive writing, especially in casual cursive where whether or not a letter is joined is typically dependent upon what the writer considers easier or more expedient. Cursive can be considered an art style in the same vein as calligraphy, and thus creative license is frequently taken with various letters.



Once you have mastered writing out upper case Qs, you are ready to move on to practicing with lower case Qs. The lower case form of the letter is a little more complicated, but with some practice it can also be quite easy to learn.



Here we have a lower case form of Q in cursive. The lower case is more difficult to learn because it is more complex. Beginning at the top of the stem, your hand should curve to the left, down, and back up towards the stem again as you create the q’s loop. Then, bring the stem down below the line the Q is on and circle back around to create the tail to connect to the following letter. Again, pay attention to the loop formed as you go back up from the bottom of the stem to create the tail. There should be a loop below the tail. However, there is no loop on the stem above the tail. This letter can be tricky to form, so the best way to improve upon writing it is to practice over and over again!


As with any element of writing, cursive becomes easier with time and with practice. Cursive can be difficult and alien to begin with, but with practice it can become second nature. Soon you may find yourself struggling to write with un-joined letters! Cursive is an elegant, flowing form of writing that grows more beautiful with time and with practice. Once you have achieved mastery of writing in cursive, it can be enjoyable to write in cursive simply to see the words form with gentle, sublime curls and waves.



With this information you know have a little background of the use and benefits of writing in cursive, and you are also able to write words using the cursive Q. Try writing out a handwritten letter to a relative, or write a short note in cursive to someone you love. You may be surprised by what you create! As always remember: practice makes perfect, so practice, practice, and practice again!