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The Compass  /  (Renaissance Man)ual  /  How To Make A Signature

How To Make A Signature

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How To Make A Signature

When you sign your name to something does it mean anything? For celebrities, their signature alone gives value to the thing they signed. The highest-valued baseball autographed by Babe Ruth, for instance, was sold for $388,375 in 2012. So yes, a signature has meaning. Even for us common folk, signing something can mean you agree to the terms or you’re committing to something.  

Then there are the things you sign that won’t hold up in court, but have meaning nonetheless: the cards for your mother’s birthday, the handwritten note to your spouse or even just the dashed off sticky note at the office. In all of these cases above, the quality of your signature may not be holding you back, but your chicken scratch isn’t doing you any favors either. Maybe you’ve never even wondered what should my signature look like? Here’s why you should.

Knowing how to make a signature that is aesthetically pleasing is as much a part of your personal style as the perfectly folded pocket square or the expertly tied tie. Is knowing how to make a signature a necessity? No, but that’s what gives cool signatures their power. Taking the care to infuse every aspect of your life with style, without coming off like a fop, is tricky. People with good signatures strike the perfect balance between well-put-together and nonchalant.

A sharp guy doesn’t just dress sharp, he strives to be sharp in everything he does. He infuses every act with personality so that even when he’s signing a receipt for a two-dollar pack of gum at the convenience store because he didn’t have any cash on him, he does so with style. A man of style, after all, does not turn his style on and off.

Maybe you’ve been signing your name the same way for decades, but you don’t have to settle for a substandard signature just because you’re used to it.

All it takes is a little practice. Now, tell us, is it worth it to tear yourself away from watching SportsCenter to learn how to make a signature with style?

Actually, that does sound like a lot of work and, real talk, SportsCenter is addictive as hell. (What can we say? Buccigross got jokes.) And we know, spending time learning how to make a signature better probably wasn’t on your New Year’s resolution list.

Here’s the thing: you don’t have to commit to some complicated regimen of retraining your hand to create a signature, so your SportsCenter habit is safe. That’s because you sign all kinds of things all the time, mostly receipts along with the occasional form or that little machine the FedEx guy gives you.

If you use those opportunities to literally try your hand at a new signature, you’ll be a regular John Hancock in no time.


first and last

Nail the first and last letters of your name. These letters get emphasis from capitalization and can make or break your signature.


middle name

Consider your middle name. If you’ve got a middle initial that makes your signature look even better, all the better. If your middle initial isn’t doing you any good, you can probably do without it.


inspiration

Take a look at some inspiration. Be on the lookout for any particularly well-written letters that you identified in steps one and two. You could start with this list of The 17 Coolest Signatures of Famous People and rip some ideas from these signature all-stars. But to inspire your signature, it’s hard to beat the work of typographer Ale Paul for inspiration. His site, Sudtipos, is chock full of hand-lettered fonts that’ll make you wish you could write like him and should offer plenty of ideas for how to write your name. Check out our favorites: Mr. Canfields, Dr. Carbfred and Mrs. St-Delafield Pro from The Bluemlein Script Collection.


master strokes

Now master the strokes. Now that you’ve seen what’s possible with the letters you’ve got, grab a pen. Starting, again, with the capital letters at the beginning of your first and last name, pull out your references and freehand copy the letters the way you’d like them to appear. You don’t need to make a perfect facsimile of a letter form you’ve seen, just get the gist of it.


make it your own

Make it your own. Once you’ve got the key letters, you can decide whether you want to add any flourishes or unique elements. A word to the wise: too much flourish can quickly turn your signature from a man of substance to teenage girl. We like Woodrow Wilson’s exaggerated tail at the end of his name, for example.


train your brain

Train your brain. To kick things off, take 5 minutes to write your new signature 50 times without stopping or going back to edit. Just write it to train the muscles in your hand to repeat the motion.


practice

Practice, practice, practice. With your new signature starting to get ingrained, make it a habit by using every opportunity to practice and sign everything you can with your new signature until it becomes second nature.


That’s all there is to it. But before we go, we thought it was fitting to sign off on this article properly:

Signature
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5 thoughts on “How To Make A Signature”

  1. “…signature from a man of substance to teenage girl.” What the hell does that mean? Do teenage girls and their signatures not have “substance”?

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Gender politics has plenty of gray areas, but surely you’ve noticed that many teenage girls use their handwriting to express youth and feminity. There’s nothing wrong with that, but it would be a bit strange coming from an older male, wouldn’t it? Does our recognizing this age and gender difference mean that we believe that teenage girls are somehow lesser? Of course not. This is simply an observation of difference, not a statement of value. So we stand by our statement: “too much flourish can quickly turn your signature from a man of substance to teenage girl.”

  2. Thanks for the article. Are there any legal effects of changing one’s signature? For example, if I have always signed my name one way and now want to have a different signature, would any official documentation be needed?

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Glad you asked! We asked the author. He reports having changed the way he writes the first letter of his first name and his middle initial a few years back. “For the most part I didn’t run into any problems,” he says, “but I did get asked about it by a bank teller who saw my signature the old way on a deposit and the new way when I signed for a withdrawal.” He says it only took signing both ways to clear up the matter. “And,” he adds, “it led to an interesting discussion with the bank teller that, inspired me to write this article.”

      In the years since upgrading his handwriting, he reports that this is the only time anyone ever questioned him. “My driver’s license and passport feature my old signature, yet I’ve never had any problems signing other documents while using those documents. My signature is not drastically different, but it’s noticeable, yet no one ever asks. Short of changing the actual letters, you should be in the clear when you change your handwriting.”

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