The signature of Johan Paulus Vogt

Friday, February 10, 2012

Turn your handwriting into a computer font to save for posterity...

So I came across a website last night called My Script Font that allows users to create a font for use on your computer and word processing programs (or anything that uses a true-type font) based on their own handwriting.

As someone who has kept a journal since he was 14, I have struggled with the concept of typing or writing my journal.  On the one hand there's something incredibly satisfying about handwriting a journal in a book, ready-made to be passed on to the next generation or two.  What I wouldn't give to have a journal written by Johan Paulus Vogt from the 1730s, or from Gasper Vaught during the time he was in the Revolution!  As I grew up and moved into the computer age, I saw the possibility of typing my journal and the benefits it provided: speed (I can type about 80 words per minute, waaaay faster than writing), the ability to insert pictures and what not into the entry without the hassle of getting pictures developed or printed and tape, and thanks to faster typing, the ability to record more of my thoughts and what not in the same amount of time (without a hand cramp!).  Of course, for portability, you can't beat a book and pen.  So, through the years I've flipped flopped back and forth between typing and writing, torn between the two mediums but understanding that typing is the way of the future.  Outside of an academic environment, who really writes anything of substance (not including signatures, etc.) anymore anyway?

Enter   They provide a template where you write each letter of the alphabet, captial and lowercase, all the numbers and most of the commonly used symbols (@,#,$,%, etc.).  You scan the document, upload it to their servers, wait about 2 minutes and a .ttf file is ready for you to download and install.  About 10 minutes start to finsih in my case after messing up a few templates.  Then...the result as typed in Word about 5 minutes ago:

For better or worse, that's my handwriting!  I simply am amazed at how easy the process was...and it is 100% free!  What a wonderful tool...just think...if we can get loved ones to fill out the template, we can have a digital format of their handwriting for posterity.  

Why don't you just keep a letter someone wrote?  Makes sense, but think about how few and far between letters, etc., are for most of us.  The last time I wrote a letter by hand was...what, grade school?  20 years or more ago!  Even in college and law school, most of my note taking was done on a laptop computer.  

Everything is email or text messaging nowadays. you can type a letter in your own handwriting for grandkids, etc.  This may be helpful for older generations that don't have the ability to write letters to kids anyomre, but may have access to a computer.  Even better, one could get grandma to write the letters on the template, then let her dictate a message to her as yet unborn great-grand children, type it for her and print and boom, instant family treasure....

Really quickly, one could build up a collection of handwriting from eveyrone in the family.  Just print the template and mail it to dear Aunt Sally....

One bit of advice if you want to do this as I've suggested: save yourself some hassle and download the template to your computer (it's a .pdf file) instead of simply printing off the website.  When you print off the website, it tends to be a bit larger than it needs to be and it throws off the processing when you upload your info.  I tried and failed 3 times this way before saving the template and printing it off my computer instead.  Once and done going this way.  Very simple, just follow the on screen instructions.  You may want to print a few templates at once...I messed up a few because they want you to use a medium tipped felt pen, which I am NOT comfortable using, so a few characters were a little squiggly.  Once scanned and changed to the correct dpi (300) I uploaded the file and in moments downloaded the .ttf file and dropped into the font folder in Windows.  Just be sure to rick click on the .ttf file and click on properties, then select a the bottom of the dialog box where it says "Unblock" before you drop it in the fonts folder in Windows.  It's as simple as that!

I'm sure there's more applications for genealogy out there for this.  What do you think?