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National Handwriting Contest

2014 National Handwriting Contest

The 2015 National Handwriting Contest is now open! Download your entry forms to enter.

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About the Zaner-Bloser National Handwriting Contest

Now in its 24th year, the National Handwriting Contest is an annual event sponsored by Zaner-Bloser to promote legible handwriting. The contest is free to enter and open to all students in Grades K–8. The contest includes a Special Needs category, the Nicholas Maxim Award. Students can win many great prizes, including cash and trophies. Zaner-Bloser estimates that more than 4 million students have participated in the contest over its 23-year history.

Download entry forms today to participate.

How to Enter the Zaner-Bloser National Handwriting Contest

There are three simple steps to entering the National Handwriting Contest.

  1. Download your contest entry materials:
  2. Hold your school-wide Handwriting Contest.
  3. Submit your school winners using the provided forms before January 23, 2015.

2015 Contest Rules and Awards

Is your school new to the contest this year? Or do you need a quick refresher on the National Handwriting Contest rules and awards? This information is also included in the contest entry materials that you can download above.

Contest Rules

The contest is open to all students in Grades K–8. Winners will be selected from schools that use the Zaner-Bloser Handwriting program. Participating schools should select and submit only one winner per grade per school for Grades K–8 for the main contest and one winner each for the manuscript category and cursive category for the special needs contest.

Entries should be sent to Zaner-Bloser National Handwriting Contest, PO Box 16764, Columbus, OH 43216-6764. Entries postmarked after January 23, 2015 (National Handwriting Day) will not be judged. Decisions by contest judges are final. Names, grade levels, and schools of winners will be posted on the Zaner-Bloser website and may be released to the media.

How to Submit a Winning Entry

Impress upon your students the importance of legible handwriting. Give a copy of the appropriate form to each student that wishes to enter: Manuscript, Grades K–2; Cursive, Grades 3–4; Cursive, Grades 5–8; and Nicholas Maxim Special Needs Entry Form. Allow students time to practice before writing their final entry on a clean form. Remember: Handwriting should be relaxed and natural, not traced—neatness counts. Reward each student who enters the contest with a copy of the Zaner-Bloser Certificate of Participation.

Submit one winner per grade per school for Grades K–8 for the main contest and one winner each for the manuscript category and cursive category for the special needs contest to represent your school along with the completed School Information Form. Please note that you do not have to submit an entry for every grade level to participate in the contest. For example, you could submit entries for Grades 1–4 or only a single grade level. Just be sure that all entries for your school get sent in together using only one School Information Form. A School Information Form must accompany all entries.

Mail the winning entries to Zaner-Bloser National Handwriting Contest, PO Box 16764, Columbus, OH 43216-6764 by January 23, 2015.

Judging and Awards (Main Contest)

All entries will be judged according to the Zaner-Bloser Keys to Legibility—Size, Shape, Spacing, and Slant—which can be found on the reverse side of each entry form.

Every student whose entry is submitted to the judges will receive a School Grade-Level Winner Certificate. All public and private schools with a winner will be notified by April 30, 2015, so that presentation assemblies can be scheduled and all prizes can be awarded.

State Grade-Level Winners—Judges will select a Public and Private State Grade-Level (K–8) Winner for each state. There could be 18 State Grade-Level Winners for each state, one from each grade in both school categories. Zaner-Bloser reserves the right not to choose a State Grade-Level Winner if the entries do not meet the legibility criteria. State Grade-Level Winners will receive a prize package for themselves and their school worth a combined value of $250.

National Grade-Level Semifinalists—Judges will select Public and Private National Grade-Level Semifinalists from the State Winners. There could be 18 National Grade-Level Semifinalists, one from each grade (K–8) in both school categories. Zaner-Bloser reserves the right not to choose a Semifinalist if the entries do not meet the legibility criteria. National Grade-Level Semifinalists will receive a prize package for themselves and their school worth a combined value of $750.

Grand National Grade–Level Champions—Judges will select nine Grand National Grade-Level (K–8) Champions from the 18 Public and Private National Grade-Level Semifinalists. Zaner-Bloser reserves the right not to choose a Grand National Grade-Level Champion if the entries do not meet the legibility criteria. Each Grand National Grade-Level Champion will be awarded a $1,000 cash prize. Each teacher of a Grand National Grade-Level Champion will be awarded a trip to the 2015 International Reading Association Conference in St. Louis, MO. Each school of a Grand National Grade-Level Champion will receive a $1,000 Zaner-Bloser Gift Certificate.

Judging and Awards (Special Needs Contest)

All Nicholas Maxim Award Contest entries must be submitted in either manuscript or cursive. Entries are judged by a team of occupational therapists and educators utilizing metrics provided by the Zaner-Bloser Keys to Legibility rubric of Shape, Size, Spacing and Slant. Additional consideration is given to the challenges each special needs student who enters must face with regard to their specific cognitive, intellectual, physical, and/or developmental disability.

Student entries must be submitted in manuscript or cursive using the Nicholas Maxim Entry Form. Entries must include a letter providing specific information about your students’ handwriting challenge. Letters should be submitted on School or District letterhead and signed by the Occupational Therapist, Special Education Provider, and/or Principal.

Nicholas Maxim entries should be sent to Zaner-Bloser National Handwriting Contest, PO Box 16764, Columbus, OH 43216-6764. A School Information Form must accompany all entries. Entries must be received on or before January 23, 2015 (National Handwriting Day). Each of the special needs student eligible entries will receive either a Nicholas Maxim Manuscript School Winner certificate or a Nicholas Maxim Cursive School Winner certificate. From all of the eligible entries, one National Champion in each category (Manuscript and Cursive) will be selected. The school of the National Champion of the Nicholas Maxim Manuscript Award and the National Champion of the Nicholas Maxim Cursive Award will be notified by April 30, 2015, so that presentation assemblies can be scheduled and prizes can be awarded to the National Champions. National Champions in each category (Manuscript and Cursive) will receive a $1,000 cash prize and an engraved trophy. Names, grades, and schools of the National Champions will be posted on Zaner-Bloser’s website and may be released to the media.

Free Resources for Handwriting Practice

Before your students put pen to paper on their National Handwriting Contest entry form, let them practice the Keys to Legibility and handwriting skills that will make them handwriting all-stars! Here are some helpful free tools and ideas to get you started:

Handwriting Tips Videos

These short, animated videos feature handwriting tips appropriate for your grade level.

Practice Masters

Prepare your students for the contest with our ready-made Practice Masters for selected letterforms.

Create Your Own Worksheets

Give your students practice where they need it most and create your own worksheets. The free version of the ZB FontsOnline PlusTM application includes editable templates with grade-specific guidelines and Zaner-Bloser’s manuscript and cursive alphabets. 
 Try it now.

Fine and Gross Motor Skill Development Activities

Strengthen the motor skills that lead to improved handwriting with these effective activities developed by leading occupational therapists.Learn More

Zaner-Bloser Handwriting Stroke Descriptions

Take your students step-by-step through proper letter and numeral formation with these easy-to-remember stroke descriptions.

The Keys to Legibility

The Four Keys to Legibility—Shape, Size, Spacing, and Slant—are essential to legible handwriting and form the criteria for judging the National Handwriting Contest. Download these kid-friendly guidelines to help your students understand each key.

Evaluation Guides

As students practice for the contest, they can use these helpful guides with grade-appropriate models of Excellent, Good, Average, Fair, and Poor handwriting to self-evaluate and improve their handwriting.

Letter Model Printables

These handy manuscript and cursive alphabet printable cards are perfect for students to use as a reference when practicing in the classroom or at home.


2014 National Handwriting Contest Winners

Grand National Champions

  • Grade K: Mehrangiz Ahtomova, PS 192 The Magnet School for Math and Science Inquiry, Brooklyn, NY
  • Grade 1: Alina Cotlet, East Elementary School, Dover, OH
  • Grade 2: Zachary John Sutter, Immaculate Heart of Mary School, Atlanta, GA
  • Grade 3: Anna Grace Likes, Kirk Day School, St. Louis, MO
  • Grade 4: Mollie Grace Strong, Homestead Elementary School, Crossville, TN
  • Grade 5: Michelle Petrangeli, Our Lady of Grace School, Greensboro, NC
  • Grade 6: Alex Goebel, Rolling Hills Elementary School, Mukwonago, WI
  • Grade 7: Grace Beehler, Corpus Christi School, South Bend, IN
  • Grade 8: Rachel Litwack, Holy Family Catholic School, Orlando, FL

National Grade-Level Semifinalists

  • Grade K: Benjamin Vu, St. Edward the Confessor School, Metairie, LA
  • Grade 1: Jimmy Adolphson, Holy Infant School, Ballwin, MO
  • Grade 2: Lilian Searlait Bligh, Ralph Wheelock School, Medfield, MA
  • Grade 3: Mary Sulo, Elmwood Elementary School, Elmwood Park, IL
  • Grade 4: Antonio Harris, St. Brendan School, North Olmsted, OH
  • Grade 5: Emily Anna Cooper, Valley View Elementary School, Ashwaubenon, WI
  • Grade 6: Natasha Badguijar, Cherry Hill Elementary School, River Edge, NJ
  • Grade 7: Karen Mimbrera, Aurora Charter School, Minneapolis, MN
  • Grade 8: Student name withheld, Northwest Rankin Middle School, Brandon, MS

State Grade-Level Winners

Judges selected state winners in Grades K–8 for both public and private schools. View list of winning schools.

Nicholas Maxim Award

  • National Manuscript Champion: Grade 5: Maryam Al-Saidi, Cunningham Elementary School, Houston, TX
  • National Cursive Champion: Grade 3: Daniel Shi, The SEEALL Academy, Brooklyn, NY.

Additional Past Contest Winners


National Handwriting Contest in the News

Take a look at what's in the news about the National Handwriting Contest.

2014 News

Ashwaubenon Student Honored for Handwriting
A Wisconsin fifth-grader receives her award for becoming a National Semifinalist.

Brooklyn Boy Wins $1,000 for His Handwriting Skills
This year's Nicholas Maxim Cursive Winner earns accolades for his handwriting ability.

Antonio Harris is Ohio's Handwriting Champ
A fourth-grade student at St. Brendan School in North Olmsted, Ohio, becomes a National Grade-Level Semifinalist.

Local Kid Can do WHAT Better Than Any Other 6th Grader?!
Alex Goebel, a sixth-grade student at Wisconsin's Rolling Hills Elementary School, demonstrates the skill that earned him a Grand National Champion title.

5th Grader Overcomes Nerve Disease to Win Writing Award
A fifth-grade student from Texas' Cunningham Elementary School becomes the 2014 Nicholas Maxim Award Winner for manuscript handwriting.

Students Become State Handwriting Champs
Students at Virginia's St. Leo the Great School, Sacred Heart Academy, and St. Rita School celebrate their State Winner titles.

Valley Prep Kindergarten Student Named a State Handwriting Champion
Nolan Vann from Valley Preparatory School in Redlands, CA, becomes a State Winner in this year's first-ever kindergarten category.

Corpus Christi Student has the Write Stuff
Indiana's Corpus Christi School honors a Grand National Winner and three State Winners in this year's contest.

4 Win State Handwriting Titles
Students at St. Anne Catholic School in Sumter, SC, earn State Winner titles.

Two Jay Shideler Students Deserve a Hand for Writing Skills
A Kansas fifth-grader and kindergartner become State Winners in the 2014 National Handwriting Contest.

IC Student has the ‘Write’ Stuff
A Michigan first-grader becomes a State Grade-Level Winner.

St. Leo Second-Grader Takes First Place in National Handwriting Contest
A New Jersey second-grader earns a prize as a State Grade-Level Winner.

Pair of East Elementary Students Named State Handwriting Champions
East Elementary students in fourth-grade and fifth-grade become Iowa's Grade-Level Winners.

Assumption School Student is Write On
A fourth-grade Connecticut student is named State Grade-Level Winner.

Dotting Her 'i's and Crossing Her 't's
A Minnesota kindergarten student becomes a State Grade-Level Winner.

ALES Student Tops in Cursive
A Kentucky fourth-grader becomes a State Grade-Level Winner.

Monsignor McHugh Student Gets State Medal in Handwriting Contest
A Pennsylvania kindergarten student takes home a State Grade-Level Winner award.

Two Kreft Students Place First in Iowa for Zaner-Bloser Handwriting Contest
Kreft Primary School students in first-grade and kindergarten become State Grade-Level Winners.

2013 News

Poland Student Wins Handwriting Contest
WKBN First News interviews the fourth grade Grand National Champion at Ohio's Dobbins Elementary School.

Students Honored for Handwriting
Two students from West Virginia's Jefferson Academy are awarded for excellence in handwriting.

Savannah Girls' Cursive Handwriting Wins National Penmanship Recognition
Tennessee's Northside Elementary students are recognized for their penmanship skills.

Washington Sixth-Grader Honored for Her Handwriting
A Crosspoint Academy student becomes a National Grade-Level Winner.

Local Students Recognized for Handwriting
Students at Missouri's Kirk Day School and Holy Infant School are honored for their handwriting abilities.

Following the Script: Two Redeemer Lutheran Students Win National Handwriting Contest
Two Wisconsin students receive State Winner prizes in the 2013 contest.

St. Louis Teen Wins Cursive Writing Contest
A seventh-grader at Holy Infant School becomes a Grand National Champion.

Student Wins Grand National Award for Cursive Writing
At Tennessee's Northside Elementary School, a fifth grade student's handwriting talent earns top honors.

Poland Dobbins Elementary Student Garners National Honor
An Ohio fourth-grader becomes a Grand National Champion.

Carteret Fifth-Grader Gets Handwriting Award
A special needs student from North Carolina's St. Egbert Catholic School wins the Nicholas Maxim Award.

Handwriting Champ Shows How It's Done
A second grade Grand National Champion is featured on CBS 5 in Phoenix, Arizona.

Fairbury Sixth-Grader Wins Handwriting Award
A student in Grade 6 at Nebraska's Jefferson Intermediate School earns a State Winner prize.

Cordova Student Advances in Handwriting Competition
A third-grader at Tennessee's St. Francis of Assisi Catholic School is named a State Winner in the 2013 contest.

Four St. Joseph Catholic School Students Win State Handwriting Awards
Several students from South Carolina's St. Joseph Catholic School become State Winners.

Assumption Student Shows She Has the Write Stuff
A Connecticut eighth-grader wins a State Winner award.

Ross Students Win State Awards for Handwriting
Three students from Pennsylvania's Ross Elementary School become State Winners in the 2013 contest.

Local Student Wins State Grade-Level National Handwriting Contest
At Idaho's Hibbard Elementary School, a fourth grade student becomes a State Winner.

Local Girl Wins Handwriting Competition
A third grade student at Texas' Sampson Elementary School receives a State Winner prize.

Local Second-Grader's Cursive Writing Wins Best in State
This Gaston Gazette article features a contest winner from North Carolina's Cramerton Christian Academy.

Second-Grader Morgan Turner Wins National Handwriting Contest
A Grade-Level Winner from Wheelock School in Massachusetts moves on to compete for national title.

Local School Says Cursive Handwriting is Important and Has the Awards to Prove It
Idaho's Hibbard Elementary School students show off their cursive skills in the National Handwriting Contest.

View 2012 News ›

Media Resources

Learn More

Download the Zaner-Bloser National Handwriting Contest Fact Sheet

2014 Press Releases

Elementary and Middle School Students From Across the Country Earn Top Honors in 2014 National Handwriting Contest
Zaner-Bloser is proud to announce the National Grade-Level Semifinalists and Grand National Grade-Level Champions.

Special Needs Students Inspire by Earning Top Honors in National Handwriting Contest
Zaner-Bloser announces the Nicholas Maxim Award Winners in the 2014 National Handwriting Contest.

Zaner-Bloser Adds a Kindergarten Category to Kick off the 23rd Annual National Handwriting Contest
For the first time since its inception, kindergarteners are invited to compete in the contest's manuscript portion.

2013 Press Releases

Two Special Needs Students Earn Top Honors in 2013 Zaner-Bloser National Handwriting Contest
Two special needs students win the Nicholas Maxim Award in the 2013 Zaner-Bloser National Handwriting Contest.

Zaner-Bloser Announces 2013 Handwriting Contest Winners
Dedication to handwriting excellence pays off for National Winners and Grand National Champions in the 2013 National Handwriting Contest.

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