Zaner Bloser vs. D’Nealian

We often get asked about the differences between Zaner Bloser and D’Nealian. Basically there are two differences: slant and shape.

D’Nealian is written at a slight slant in both manuscript printing and cursive. Zaner Bloser is written straight up and down in manuscript printing and slanted in cursive.

Zaner Bloser vs D'Nealian print sample

D’Nealian letters are learned with tails in manuscript printing, so the transition to cursive is simpler; pretty much all you need to do is connect the tails. Zaner Bloser letters are learned as two completely different styles between printing and cursive.

Zaner Bloser vs D'Nealian cursive sample

Which style is best?

We can’t tell you which handwriting style will work best for your child; we don’t know him or her. But here are some questions to help you determine the answer for your situation.

  1. Is it easier for my child to write straight up and down or at a slant?

    If writing at a slant is difficult for your child at this stage, you may want to go with Zaner Bloser.

    (By the way, if any writing is difficult for your child at this stage, don’t force it. You can teach your child the correct letter formations when he is young without ever putting pencil to paper. Draw letters in sand or in a pan of raw rice or on a chalkboard or white board. You can even draw letters in the air. If he learns the letter shapes gently and easily now, using his large motor muscles, it will be easier for him to write the letters correctly later on paper, once he is ready for those fine-motor skills. Our Delightful Handwriting course is designed around this concept.)

  2. Will my child become frustrated learning two styles of handwriting—print and cursive—or will it be easier if cursive isn’t so different from printing?

    If your child will enjoy the fact that he or she can write in two very different styles—straight up and down for printing, and slanted and fancy for cursive—then Zaner Bloser may work best. With Zaner Bloser, all 26 letters change shape between manuscript and cursive, plus the slant of all the letters changes.

    If your child will be frustrated if he has to change how he writes several letters when switching to cursive, you may want to use D’Nealian. With D’Nealian, only 13 letters change shape between manuscript and cursive, and the slant does not change at all.

  3. Will this handwriting style complement or confuse my child’s ability to recognize and read words?

    You don’t often see words printed in D’Nealian on the pages of beginning readers’ books. If you think your child will become confused trying to recognize letters and words that look quite different on a printed page than the letters he is learning to write, you may want to teach him the straight up and down Zaner Bloser.

  4. Which handwriting style are you the most comfortable teaching to your child?

    Remember, you will be the one demonstrating the strokes and letters and coaching your child in his handwriting lessons. So think through which style will work best for you and your child, make your choice, and move forward with confidence.

All of our handwriting books are available in both Zaner Bloser and D’Nealian. So no matter which style you choose, you can easily use all of those resources.

Delightful Handwriting (learn how to print)
A Child’s Copybook Reader series (practice print handwriting)
Print to Cursive Proverbs (learn how to write cursive)
Hymns in Prose Copybooks (practice cursive or more print)