Author Topic: The mysterious blue lines  (Read 333 times)

Offline Trazo

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The mysterious blue lines
« on: November 27, 2020, 04:04:13 PM »
This may be a stupid question, but it keep me intrigued. All the methods of business writing take the space between two (blue) lines of the paper as a unity of measure, but I don't have a clue about the standard distance between lines in the paper of that period in the US. If anybody could help me with this, I would have a better idea of the desired size of the letters and the movement exercises. Thanks.

Offline D B Holtz

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Re: The mysterious blue lines
« Reply #1 on: November 27, 2020, 05:52:37 PM »
Narrow-ruled spacing is 1/4 inch, college-ruled is 9/32, and wide-ruled is 11/32.

HTH,
DB

Offline Trazo

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Re: The mysterious blue lines
« Reply #2 on: November 28, 2020, 01:39:11 PM »
Well, thank you for such a precise answer, but I am at the same point, as I don't know which of these measures do the old methods refer to.

Offline Erica McPhee

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Re: The mysterious blue lines
« Reply #3 on: November 28, 2020, 02:07:16 PM »
Such a good point! Thank you DB for the details!

I will see if I can find any photos of said paper and see if I can figure it out. Or perhaps @Masgrimes knows the answer.  ;D
Truly, Erica
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Offline Masgrimes

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Re: The mysterious blue lines
« Reply #4 on: November 28, 2020, 03:15:03 PM »
"All the methods of business writing take the space between two (blue) lines of the paper as a unity of measure"

All?  Or are we specifically talking about "Modern Business Penmanship"?  There are hundreds of business penmanship books. Maybe you're talking about lessons from a periodical? Writing papers were often furnished with different rulings.

For example:

Zaner-Bloser Penmanship Paper #4 was ruled with “Universal Ruling”, the lines being seven-sixteenths of an inch apart, and was used in grades 3, 4, and upper grades if desired.

Zanerian 5 Lb paper was suited for fine penmanship, correspondence, etc. the lines being three-eighths inch apart.

Zanerian 6 Lb  paper came in both 3/8” and 1/2” ruling. Uses match those above. The ream was 1 Lb heavier.
David Grimes — Penman
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Offline Trazo

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Re: The mysterious blue lines
« Reply #5 on: November 28, 2020, 03:35:21 PM »
Thanks everybody for the answers. With different linguistic expressions the reference to the space between two lines of the paper is definitely in a lot of old methods (Zaner, Tamblyn, Champion, Palmer...). I don't know if they all refer to to same measure or even if they thought the exact distance between lines was not so important.

Offline Erica McPhee

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Re: The mysterious blue lines
« Reply #6 on: November 28, 2020, 04:33:33 PM »
Thanks David! @Masgrimes I knew you would have an informative response to this!

@Trazo - I think it may not be as important as we think. I would suggest trying 3/8" (9-10mm) since that seemed to be a common one.

While this is just a copybook page, I like the sizing from these books to practice and you can print a sample sheet from her blog (at the bottom):

Spencerian Penmanship Blank Practice Sheet
« Last Edit: November 28, 2020, 04:35:18 PM by Erica McPhee »
Truly, Erica
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Offline Masgrimes

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Re: The mysterious blue lines
« Reply #7 on: November 28, 2020, 06:57:38 PM »
@Trazo I think that's the most responsible position to take on it. Each manual likely referred to a specific paper, but without explicitly saying which paper to use, the authors must have known that home-students would just use whatever paper they had and write two spaces high. I expect that the consistency of using two spaces through many of the manuals is so that the drills have a clearly defined medial point to evaluate their forms/curves/proportions against.

David Grimes — Penman
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Offline Trazo

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Re: The mysterious blue lines
« Reply #8 on: November 29, 2020, 03:22:23 PM »
Thanks once again. By no means I do intend to be finicky about this topic. I don't think making the ovals a bit bigger or smaller will make a big difference. What I would like to know is the expected overall size of the letters. I am using standard European grid paper (Rhodia pads and  similar stuff) which has 0,5 cm squares. This means that two lines of this paper (which is the common use) have a measurement very close to a 3/8 inches lined paper. As the proportion of BW letters follows the tradition of Spencerian, you have to divide this space in three parts, which gives about 3mm for normal letters without ascenders or descenders. But this is in the case you use the whole space between lines. One should write considerable smaller to avoid the collision of ascenders and descenders in two consecutive lines. I just don't know how to do my practice. I usually use two squares (1 cm) as a maximal height of my letters (for capitals and ascenders) but I write one line every three squares (I skip one square to avoid the collision between lines). I don't know how to explain it in a better way. Hope it makes any sense. Anyway I have the feeling that my writing is bigger than expected.

However, the more I dive into the question the most mysterious I find it. In his Lessons in Practical Penmanship H.P. Beheresmeyer says: "It is advisable that one use a good quality of paper size 8" by 11" with standard ruling" (pag. 3). And on the other hand, in his Modern Business Penmanship, Mills (who continuously refers to the blue lines as a reference of measurement) doesn't find necessary to mention any lines in his description of the desired paper for practice ("Good foolscap paper, having rather a smooth surface, is best for this work"; at the very start of his method, which is unpaged).





Offline jeanwilson

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Re: The mysterious blue lines
« Reply #9 on: November 30, 2020, 06:20:43 AM »
It is not finicky to pay attention to these details.
Your level of attention to details confirms that you can see subtle nuances.
Those who are hoping to find a quick and easy recipe might do well following just one book - but, not always.
Dovetailing what you find in a variety of books is a valid path to be following.

Since you can see the differences in the various lessons, just make a note of all the possibilities.
Try everything and decide for yourself which sizes, spaces, materials, etc are hitting that sweet spot where:
1) you are happy with the results and see improvement
and
2) it feels good

A general rule of thumb is that it is helpful to start at a slightly larger size to get the forms accurate
and then gradually reduce the size to whatever is more comfortable or aesthetically pleasing.

My 2-cents

Offline Trazo

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Re: The mysterious blue lines
« Reply #10 on: November 30, 2020, 09:42:39 AM »
Thank you very much for your advice, Jean.  As I am working on my arm writing (muscular movement) the size of the letter is quite important, because with this technique I find difficult to write in a small size. However, it seems that is the kind of writing the advocates of the method were aiming for. I have found another way to calculate the overall size they had in mind: the length of the sentences they purpose for practice. I assume that they have to be written in just one line, but with my actual size I very often have to jump into the next line. I will follow your advice and try to reduce gradually the size once I get more control on my writing.