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  • Handwriting for math etc

    May 28th, 2018
    math, tech
    I don't have very tidy handwriting, and for most things this is fine: there's enough redundancy in language that it will be clear from context what is a t and what is a +. When writing calculations, however, there's often a lot less redundancy and so it's more worth it to make sure distinctions aren't being lost. One way to handle this would be to have clean handwriting overall, but what I do instead is use glyphs that are more robust and remain distinct even if written poorly. [1]

    Here are what I do with some tricky glyphs:


    i j t + l 1 I 2 z 7 ;

    It's nice if these are clear to other people, but the main goal is for them not to be confused with each other. Things to help this:

    • i includes a right hook
    • j is normal
    • t includes a right hook
    • + is normal
    • l is loopy/cursive
    • 1 is a straight line
    • I has top and bottom lines
    • 2 is normal
    • z has a cross
    • 7 has a cross
    This lets me write thing like:


    (zt + 2ij)/7Il

    and still be able to read back what I wrote. This is also something I need when transcribing whiteboard coding interviews at work: [2]


    for (int j = i; j < t + z; j++)

    You might notice that I don't use this for the i or t in int. It's just for variables.


    [1] I don't think this is original to me, but it's also something I picked up gradually as I realized that certain forms were more reliable.

    [2] Yes, candidates write code on whiteboards, we transcribe it on paper, and then we type it into a computer for others to review. Someday candidates will write on laptops, I guess, but it was weird that we were doing it in 2010, and we're still doing it in 2018, so who knows.

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