Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Palmer Method?

The Palmer Method is a system of handwriting developed by Austin Norman Palmer in the late 19th-century. The Palmer Method was one of the most popular systems for teaching practical penmanship in America.

Excerpt from the Palmer Method of Business Writing

What makes The Palmer Method unique relative to modern times is that students were taught to write with the arm as opposed to the fingers. Writing with the arm can be executed for hours without fatigue, which was necessary in a world without typewriters and computers.

The style of writing taught by The Palmer Method was not unique. Many other books taught similar methods of writing. Collectively, these methods of writing were called “practical penmanship” or “business penmanship”.

How long does it take to learn The Palmer Method?

There are two aspects to learning The Palmer Method: 1) studying the letterforms and 2) learning how to write with the arm.

You may only wish to study The Palmer Method letterforms and not develop the traditional arm movement for execution. In this case, you can learn The Palmer Method in a matter of weeks or months, depending on your existing handwriting skills. If this is you, check out the free online course at

If you also wish to learn the arm movement portion of The Palmer Method, you will need to spend significant time developing the muscles in your arm for writing. Typically students require months of consistent practice to fully understand and execute The Palmer Method.

Get a little help learning the Palmer Method by watching the Palmer Method Intro Series.

What is the best way to learn The Palmer Method?

The best place to start is The Palmer Method Intro Series, which will guide you through learning The Palmer Method and serve as a companion to Palmer’s classic book: The Palmer Method of Business Writing.

What is business penmanship?

Business penmanship is the style of practical penmanship that was popular in the late 19th- and early 20th-century in America. The style was promoted by many penmanship educators, including Austin Norman Palmer who created The Palmer Method and published multiple books on the topic beginning in the late 19th-century.

Below is an exemplar, or an ideal model of the Palmer Method alphabet, which is just one of many Business Penmanship styles.

The Palmer Method alphabet

What is the difference between The Palmer Method and other methods of handwriting?

The Palmer Method advocates the use of pure arm movement in writing. This allows the writer to write for long periods of time without fatigue, which was important in the 19th-century when The Palmer Method was created. Handwriting systems of today focus entirely on letterforms and do not teach arm movement.

Compared to the other handwriting methods of its time, The Palmer Method is not unique. It’s popularity throughout the 20th-century is why it is remembered today. You can learn about other classic methods of penmanship on the Bookstore page.

Can I download The Palmer Method of Business Writing for free?

Yes, The Palmer Method of Business Writing is available to be downloaded for free here.

If you prefer a physical copy, you can purchase a reprint of the book on Amazon.

Who was Austin Norman Palmer?

Austin Norman Palmer was an American penmanship educator and publisher who created The Palmer Method of Business Writing in the late 19th-century.

The Palmer Method was first published as a series of articles in “The Western Penman”, a journal about penmanship founded and edited by Palmer. It was later reprinted as a textbook and became widely distributed to schools across the country, especially Catholic schools. The Palmer Method was taught to millions of students and is quite possibly the most popular handwriting program ever taught in America.

Palmer was an active penmanship instructor his entire life. He died in 1927 at the age of 67.

Photo of Austin Norman Palmer

Learn more about Austin Norman Palmer at

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