You've got an iPad in your bag, a Surface Pro on your desk, and you're still writing your notes on loose-leaf paper? Don't be an animal. It's 2018, and it's high time for you to ditch the paper and embrace the future of note-taking, a future that lets you do so much more with every jot and scribble.
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Every now and then, you have to write something longhand for someone else to read: A note, a notice, a birthday card. If you're like the many people we've gotten notes or notices or birthday cards from, it sometimes comes out illegible. We've presented many methods for improving your handwriting, but before you try them, just try slowing the hell down.
Most of us go days without writing anything by hand, and when we finally need to jot something down, it looks like the writing of a third grader. Writing by hand in the digital age feels almost antiquated, but there are plenty of reasons to maintain the quality of your penmanship, or (gasp) even improve it.
Gesture Search, Google's umpteenth attempt to give you input options other than a tiny virtual keyboard, has made the leap down to Android 1.6, meaning those with non-Droid, non-Nexus phones can give it a go.
I've always found handwriting recognition on tablet PCs to be about as effective as throwing bricks at the screen, but Microsoft remains convinced that we're just months away from ditching our keyboards altogether. A new post on the engineering Windows 7 blog goes into exhaustive detail on how Microsoft develops and improves its handwriting models, and makes for interesting reading even if (like me) you remain convinced that the keyboard is king. Recognizing Improvements in Windows 7 Handwriting
YourFonts is a web-based service that turns your handwriting into a TrueType font for free. If you have a printer and scanner, nothing can stand between you and the awesomeness of your own script. We've covered a similar service before, but the handwriting-to-font process at Fontifier costs $US9 per font you create. YourFonts has a software package for making personalised fonts that runs $US49, but the web-based tool is entirely free. The process is straightforward: download the provided PDF template, print it out, and fill in each number and letter blank with your own hand writing. When you're done you upload the template back to YourFonts, preview it to make sure it looks like your own calligraphic gift to the world, and then download it as a monitor-friendly font. Additionally you can use the service without actually printing the PDF out and using a scanner—if you've ever wanted to create your own set of crazy wingdings, you can load up the PDF in an editing application like Adobe Illustrator and fill in the font-grid with anything you wish—hand writing or otherwise.
Adding a handwritten signature to letters or even email can add a distinguising, memorable mark to your messages—and in cases like mine, that distinct memory is, "Boy, his handwriting is awful." MyLiveSignature, a free web app that produces stylized signatures for use in emails, blog posts, or other writing, is a fitting solution to that problem. After typing in your name, you get your choice of 10 fonts, and then many more choices for size, color, and tilt. The site then generates HTML and BB code to embed that signature wherever you'd like, and let people know it's really you writing—even if it's not quite you. For a similar paper-based signature hack, check out this tip on creating a scan-and-send signature. MyLiveSignature