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What Is a Pen Lift?

When cursive scripts are used for handwriting, the pen lift is a more important aspect of handwriting.
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  • Written By: A. Leverkuhn
  • Edited By: Andrew Jones
  • Last Modified Date: 18 August 2014
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A pen lift is the practice of lifting the tip of a pen from a writing surface. In technical terms, experts identify the pen lift as an event where the “pen axial force” reaches zero. Basically, it means the pen has been entirely lifted from the paper. The effect on paper is a break in a continuous line that represents part or all of a letter or sequence of letters.

Some individuals consider a pen lift as part of the terminology of what’s called graphonomics. Graphonomics covers many aspects of sciences related to handwriting. For example, handwriting is often studied in forensic departments to help investigate crimes. Besides being an indicator of likely suspects, handwriting can also reveal psychological traits to trained professionals. Handwriting can also be associated with kinesiology or related physical sciences.

In past times when many people around the world used cursive scripts for handwriting, the pen lift was a more important aspect of handwriting. Cursive scripts are scripts where the pen generally does not leave the paper until the writer completes writing a full word.

The pen lift as a handwriting term became less useful when cursive script began to be replaced by block printing. Block printing handwriting is a method of handwriting in which each letter is represented individually. Block printing can utilize capital or lower case letters, or be printed in all capital letters. Block printing became more common as institutions started to use electronic methods of reading text.

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The utility of block printing can be seen in many modern forms used by governments and other institutions. Here, each letter has its own space in the form of an individual box with its own perimeter and margins. Printing within these boxes help a computer to read the text more easily.

In general, handwriting and handwriting events like pen lifts have become rather obsolete in many cases. This is largely due to the emergence of typewritten text, and especially electronic communications such as email and text messages. Typewriter started to implement this change in how the average writer produces writing, but the change was exacerbated by the rise of personal computers and wireless devices. Now, much more study is devoted to the use of digital texts, where a pen lift can still be part of examining the decreasing amounts of text still written by hand, as well as the examination of personal signatures and historic documents.

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