Cursive, also known as script, joined-up writing, joint writing, linking, running writing, or handwriting is any style of penmanship in which the symbols of the language are written in a conjoined and/or flowing manner, generally for the purpose of making writing faster. However, not all cursive copybooks join all letters. Formal cursive is generally joined, but casual cursive is a combination of joins and pen lifts. In the Arabic, Latin, and Cyrillic alphabets, many or all letters in a word are connected, sometimes making a word one single complex stroke.
While the terms cursive or script are popular in the United States for describing this style of writing the Latin script, this term is rarely used elsewhere. Joined-up writing is more popular in the United Kingdom, running writing, double writing and cursive is popular with Australian schoolchildren, and linking is more popular in New Zealand. The term handwriting is common in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
Cursive is considered distinct from the so-called manuscript (as known in education), also commonly called block letter, printwriting, blockwriting (and sometimes incorrectly referred to as "printscript" which is an oxymoron or simply "print" which is too basic and therefore confusing term which could mean mechanical printing), in which the letters of a word are unconnected and in Gothic formation rather than script.
A distinction is sometimes made between looped cursive hand(writing), in which the risers of the letters are slanted loops, and letters such as f, r, s, z, D, F, G, L, Q are quite distinct in shape from their single stroke counterparts, and italic, such as Icelandic, Getty-Dubay, Portland, Eager, Queensland, Barchowsky, etc. which are derived from chancery cursive. These copybooks eliminate loops. There are no joins from g, j, q or y, and a few other joins are discouraged.
In Hebrew cursive and Roman cursive, the letters are not connected. In the research domain of handwriting recognition, this writing style is called connected cursive, to indicate the difference between the phenomenon of italic and sloppy appearance of individual letters (cursive) and the phenomenon of connecting strokes between letters, i. e., a letter-to-letter transition without a pen lift (connected cursive).
The cursive that developed in the fifteenth century Italian Renaissance is generally referred to as "italic" or "cursive italic." The term "italic" as it relates to handwriting is not to be confused with typed letters that slant forward. Many, but not all letters in the handwriting of the Renaissance were joined, as they are today in cursive italic.
The origin of the cursive method is associated with practical advantages of writing speed and infrequent pen lifting to accommodate the limitations of the quill. Quills are fragile, easily broken, and will spatter unless used properly. Steel dip pens followed quills; they were sturdier, but still had some limitations. The individuality of the provenance of a document was a factor also, as opposed to machine font.