Intro Series – Part 5: Palmer Method Posture, Grip, Arm Position, and Paper Position

Watch Diego’s video on Palmer Method for left-handers here:

The Intro Series

When you are done with the Intro Series…

Continue learning with the Palmer Method Study Plan.

Below is a very rough transcription of the video.

Let’s talk about the Palmer Method position, and by that I mean everything you do to set yourself up for writing. This includes posture, grip, arm position, and paper position. With this camera angle, we can discuss posture first.

Palmer, like all of the penmanship instructors of his time, recommended that you put your feet flat on the floor, sit square to the desk with a straight back. Then bring yourself closer to the table by bending at the hips and turning the head slightly down towards the table.

This will probably feel somewhat stiff and uncomfortable at first, but that is because it is setting you up to write with your arm, not the fingers. It is also an excellent position if writing for long periods of time as there is no strain on the neck or back.

The more time you spend writing with this posture, the more comfortable it will become and the longer you’ll be able to write without feeling any pain.

If you’re like me, you’re going to revert to poor position over and over again. I’ve been studying the Palmer Method for over 4 years now and I still find myself in a bad position from time to time. All you can do is get into the habit of checking your position regularly as well as spend time writing where your only focus is maintaining good position.

Now let’s take a look at the grip.

Here is the standard tripod grip that most people write with. As you can see, the hand is turned on its side and resting on the table while the thumb and first two fingers are holding the pen.

For the Palmer Method, I’m first going to relax my grip to where I’m applying just enough pressure to hold the pen. This is critical as the fingers will not be controlling the pen and therefore do not need to hold the pen tightly. Watch how my first finger and thumb go from a pressed, tense position to a relaxed position.

Where the pen lays on your hand can stay relatively the same. Depending on your hand size, you may find it feels better if you position the pen above the first knuckle, like this.

Ok, now the last move we are going to make is to turn our hand over, so that the palm is facing the table and the back of the wrist is essentially parallel to the surface. Now, the only part of my hand touching the surface are the two nails or the flesh right above the nails on my ring and pinky fingers. This change of the hand from laying on its side to hover over the surface is absolutely critical.

Now we have a proper Palmer Method grip.

Now let’s look at arm position.

The key here is to rest the fleshy part of your forearm on the edge of the table. There isn’t an exact position for the arm, so you’ll have to experiment with different positions. In general, you don’t want your entire elbow on the table and you don’t want to be resting your wrist on the edge of the table. You’ll find the sweet spot somewhere close to the elbow on that forearm muscle.

There is also some leeway on how far your arm is positioned away from your body, which will be determined by the length of your arms. If your arms are shorter, you’ll position the arm closer to the body and if your arms are longer, further away. In general, you want to make sure that you have a fairly acute angle between the edge of the table and your forearm.

This is also a good time to mention that you’ll either want your forearm to be bare or be wearing loose fitting sleeves. Tight sleeves are going to restrict the motion of your arm and cause problems.

Now that we have our arm positioned, let’s look at the position of the paper.

This is where things get specific as far as what hand you are writing with, so I’ll talk about right handers first. What you want to do is first position the bottom edge of your paper so it is perpendicular to your forearm. Then you will turn it clockwise a little like this. This is a great position that will optimize control of the pen and your ability to write across the page.

If you are left handed, I’d like you to watch this video by my friend Diego. He has a brilliant setup for left handed writers that looks like this and it will allow you to execute Palmer Method writing in a comfortable position without smudging your work.