Nelson Handwriting

Model parameters


Simplified Print


Modern Cursive







Based on seven activity books, Nelson Handwriting is a handwriting education system for progressive modern cursive writing. It follows a three-step approach comprising basic, precursive, and cursive styles. Nelson Handwriting was developed by Alexander Inglis, Edward H. Gibson, and Douglas M. McIntosh in 1962, reformulated in 1984 for Thomas Nelson and Sons, and updated once again in 1997. Today it is published by the Oxford University Press.

From preschool to second grade (4–7 years old), students are taught the unjoined style. Third and fourth grade students (7–9 years old) first learn precursive letters with lead-out strokes, and then, the semi-joined style, where most lowercase letters are connected, but uppercase ones are not. The letters are based on oval shapes, and can be upright or slanted in the last stage.

It was one of the most prevalent methods of handwriting teaching in the UK in the 20th century where it is still widely used. Nelson Handwriting has also influenced instruction in former colonies, such as Australia, New Zealand, Canada and Nigeria.


  • Nelson Handwriting | The definitive handwriting scheme [WWW Document], n.d. Oxford University Press, Education & Children’s Books. URL (accessed 6.19.23)

  • Sassoon, R., 1999. Handwriting of the twentieth century. Routledge, London and New York.

  • Smith, P., 1993. New Nelson Handwriting: practising the joins. Thomas Nelson & Sons, Walton-on-Thames, UK.

  • Smith, P., Inglis, A., 1984. New Nelson Handwriting: pupil’s book A. Thomas Nelson & Sons, Walton-on-Thames, UK.

  • Warwick, A., York, N., 2016. Nelson Handwriting: Year 2/Primary 3: Pupil Book 2. Oxford University Press, Northamptonshire.