Saturday, 9 January 2016

Notebooks for Left-Handers

On Twitter this morning, I saw a post about a notebook designed for left-handers. I was intrigued. I clicked on the link and went to:

The notebook for lefties has slanted lines so that the writer doesn't smudge their writing.

Now, this whole concept feels pointless to me. And before you all lefties weigh in and tell me how horrendous it is to be left-handed in a right-handed world, I should point out that I'm ambidextrous. I started writing with my left hand, was coerced into writing with my right at my first primary school, generally write with my right hand but for >2 years of my PhD wrote only with my left because I had crippling RSI in my right wrist. I can still write left-handed and frequently did when I taught, because it meant I could stand on either side of the white-board and not block anyone's view while writing. I have never smudged a single line of writing, whether writing with my left or with my right hand. At least not through the actual act of writing! I may well have forgotten that some inks take longer to dry than I expected and ended up smudging things, but never just through the act of writing. Never.

I hold the pen in exactly the same way, whether I hold it in my left or my right - it looks like a mirror image. The nib of the pen or pencil is about 3-4 lines away from the rest of my hand, I'm resting on the smallest finger  and part of the ring finger, and all of my fingers are closer to me than the nib of the pen/point of the pencil.  In fact, I hold a pen in my left hand pretty much the same way as the leftie in their video does only with a slightly more closed hand:

image from:

I don't see how anyone holding the pen like that will have a smudging problem...
As a quick test: right-handers out there - draw some scribbles with a pen (like loopy writing) but write from right to left across the page. Did you smudge it with the rest of your hand? I'm betting you probably didn't, any more than I do when writing left to right with my left hand.

So why do so many lefties complain about smudging their writing? Do lefties hold their pens in weird ways? If so, why? Because they needed to see the letters they'd written when they were learning to write? But, I can see all the letters as I write with my left.

I know many lefties do find it an issue, but I'm genuinely perplexed by this. Could the left-handed readers please let me know why their writing smudges?

[Incidentally, I totally get why the rings in a Filofax make writing on the right-hand page uncomfortable, because that is the same for right-handers writing on the left page!]


  1. On the 'hold their pens in a weird way' thing, my left-handed son has that odd-looking style of curling his hand around the top of the line he's writing on, do you know what I mean? I'm also a leftie but have never done that, and I don't recall ever seeing a right-handed person do it in reverse.
    TBH I think a lot of left-handed gripes are exaggerated and I've never been able to use left-handed scissors!

  2. Hi Mary!
    I know exactly what you mean and no, I've never seen a right-handed person hold the pen that way! I wonder what makes them start out like that? If you end up with that weird way of holding a pen, then yes, you quite possibly DO smudge things, but that's because of the grip, not because of being a leftie per se...
    Do you smudge your writing? Oh, and I find left-handed scissors tricky too!

  3. IMagine holding your notebook 180 degrees (counterclockwise). That's how I write. :)

  4. Leftie here.
    It used to be a problem for me, I wrote a little like Mary describes above. But having just got my fountain pen out - I had no problem.

  5. Research! In "Improve your Hand-Writing" by Rosemary Sassoon and Gunnlaugur se Briem, there is a chapter specifically for left handers. I quote "Many left-handers adopt an over-the-top (inverted) hand position. This often happens because they were not shown how to place the paper over to their left side when they learned to write."