Intro Series – Part 1: What is the Palmer Method?

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.

Welcome to Intro Series.

My name is Dave and my goal with this series is to answer all of the questions you might have as you begin looking into The Palmer Method.

In this first video, I discuss what The Palmer Method is and who Palmer was.

The Palmer Method is a system of handwriting developed by Austin Norman Palmer in the late 19th-century. Palmer was a penmanship instructor that eventually landed a job at Cedar Rapids Business College in Iowa around 1880. It was here that he began developing The Palmer Method and published it as a series of articles in a journal he created called, “The Western Penman”.

The Western Penman became popular, especially in the midwest, and Palmer received requests to publish the Palmer Method as a textbook. It wasn’t until 1900 that Palmer published  his book, The Palmer Method of Business Writing. This is the book that most people are referring to when they talk about The Palmer Method and it is the book that we will take a look at throughout this introductory series.

So what actually is The Palmer Method?

There are two defining characteristics of The Palmer Method, one being the letterforms themselves, or the visual appearance of the script, and the other being the manner in which the letterforms were intended to be executed.

The Palmer Method Exemplar Alphabet
The Palmer Method Alphabet or “Exemplar”

Palmer’s letterforms are fairly standard business penmanship forms for the time. As you can see they are relatively plain and simple, which is why they were taught for business purposes and were given that name.

One thing I want to impress upon you as you learn The Palmer Method is that you are really learning what was called Practical or Business Penmanship, of which Palmer created one method. The reason why you heard about The Palmer Method and maybe have not heard about the countless other methods of penmanship created during this same time, is because Palmer was exceptionally successful at publishing and distributing his book to schools around the country.

If you go to the Resources page at, you’ll see I’ve listed a number of other Business Penmanship books that I encourage you to read and study. This will give you a better grasp on Business Penmanship and allow you to see the unique style that Palmer taught.

Muscular Movement

There are two defining aspects to The Palmer Method: the letterforms and the execution.

I’ll go into full detail into the execution that Palmer taught in another video in this series, but for now I’ll say that he taught a type of execution called “muscular movement”, which involves using the arm to drive the motion of the writing. Developing the ability to write with muscular movement is a major part of learning The Palmer Method. The entire Palmer Method book is geared at getting you to develop this movement as you simultaneously learn the letterforms and all the other visual details of the script like how letters connect, how they slant, and how they are spaced.