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Pressing hard while writing

  1. Oct 19, 2012 #1
    So, I was tutoring a friend in math, and he was working in pencil and I noticed that he presses really hard into the paper. In fact, the tip of his pencil broke and I had to loan him my mechanical pencil. That was pretty disastrous because the thin lead snapped every few seconds. He went through most of my lead by the time we finished one problem.

    Anyway, I started thinking about it. Do you all press hard into the paper? Especially when doing say, something like math, where you may want to erase later? Or do you write lightly? How about people you know? Any correlations?

    I thought about posting this in a science forum but I'm not sure which would suit. Anyway, supposedly pressing into the paper is indicative of an emotional response to the writing, (more emotional means pressing harder). And may be related to a more emotional personality in general. I'm not sure how much faith I have in handwriting analysis, but I found it interesting nonetheless.
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  3. Oct 19, 2012 #2


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    Is he a really stressed person? I would consider pressing so hard that the lead keeps breaking to be a sign they might have a problem.
  4. Oct 19, 2012 #3


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    Makes me think about hypertonia.

    Marzena is already asleep and I am not going to wake her up to ask, but I am sure she deals with similar cases (pupils with dysgraphia?).
  5. Oct 19, 2012 #4
    No, I don't think he has any such problems... I just think he's sort of intense when do his math work. Honestly, I think because he struggles with it, he tends to put a lot of effort into writing it out clearly and deliberately. In fact, I've noticed this a lot with students that I've tutored in math. Perhaps because they're less experienced in math?

    Personally, I write very lightly because I know I'll end up needing to erase when I'm working through a problem. I was thinking that perhaps experience has logically lead to me writing lightly. (In a similar way, I write certain letters and numbers in ways that won't be confused when I'm scratching out math problems ie crossing my Z's as not to confuse with 2's, and writing cursive lower case L's, and these habits crossed over into my regular handwriting as well.)

    But I've only really looked at my own writing in comparison to my students. So I was wondering if people on the forum, who presumably have done a lot of pencil-paper computation write lightly as well, or if they press down, and whether they do so consciously?
  6. Oct 19, 2012 #5


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    I write lightly so I can erase.
  7. Oct 19, 2012 #6


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    Two words for ya' -- "Erasable Pen" :smile:
  8. Oct 19, 2012 #7
    I write pretty hard sometimes and the lead breaks. I have no idea why. I guess I just don't know my own strength.
  9. Oct 19, 2012 #8


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    I've always worked solutions, or proofs, on a separate piece of paper so the smudge marks from the eraser don't mar my work. Then, when I have the structure the way I want it, I transfer it to the paper I plan on turning in. I've never really paid attention to how hard I press, though. I don't break the lead on my mechanical pencils very often (probably once every other day); I use 0.7 mm lead.

    I do, however, grip my pencil harder than necessary, independent of the subject being studied. I have a large callus on my middle finger where my pencil comes into contact with the knuckle joint. Perhaps this is another manifestation of the issue to which you're referring? I'm a pretty stoic individual, though...
  10. Oct 19, 2012 #9
    I'm not sure if its quite related to the topic at hand or not, but some years ago I read a study which indicated that men tend to grip the pencil or pen tighter because the muscles in the hands of men are less likely to be fully formed when they are taught to write. The study also indicated that it also led men to generally have worse handwriting then women.
  11. Oct 19, 2012 #10
    I always break mechanical pencils, which is why I do everything in pen. So, I suppose I press down hard.
  12. Oct 20, 2012 #11
    Harder grip of the pen = emotional? Pretty much the definition of a blanket statement. More dependent on the person in my opinion.
  13. Oct 20, 2012 #12
    My thinking is: the common pencil is an HB grade, which can't really write very dark as pencils go, and there's no point in trying to make it act like a 9B. Write with moderate pressure and let the pencil be the pencil it was meant to be. I think that's in the I-Ching, or maybe Yoda said it.
  14. Oct 20, 2012 #13


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    I don't press hard, partly for the same reason as Evo mentioned, that I might need to erase. I just don't like to press hard or hold the pencil hard.

    I use a mechanical pencil (0.5 mm) and use one click to promote the graphite rod in order to keep the graphite nub short so that it doesn't break.

    My handwriting is terrible. I write fast, and I don't have the patience to write out each letter.

    I more often use ink rather than pencil, and now probably more often use a text editor or word processor with equation editor, if I don't use TeX.
  15. Oct 20, 2012 #14


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    you can use more force than you oughta,

    but a pencil must be lead o:)
  16. Oct 20, 2012 #15


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    I also write lightly in case I need to erase. My undergrad supervisor blamed me for making her buy reading glasses...
  17. Oct 20, 2012 #16
    looking at the pages of my notebooks, it would seem that I press fairly hard because I can feel the outlines of my writing on the page behind it. I dono if that's uncommon or not... so maybe I press hard?
  18. Oct 20, 2012 #17


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    I don't press hard because I load my mechanical pencils with soft lead to get nice dark lines. Still easy to erase, because the paper is not indented much.
  19. Oct 21, 2012 #18


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    I used to press hard on the pen- my finger even evolved a pillow out of my own flesh for the pen/cil, there are still remains of it :grumpy:- but not any more, I don't press hard nor easy, it's somewhere in between.
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