I cannot write in a straight line unless I have lined paper to help guide me along the page. However sometimes the task calls for plain paper where no such lines are in place (i.e. a poster or some such).

I usually write with a ball point pen. However, in the case of a poster, I use felt tip pen which is more susceptible to smudging if rubbed too much / too soon!

How can I make sure that I am writing in a straight line without using lined paper?

I have tried placing a ruler along the page but this messes up my handwriting and it looks a bit weird so I would rather try a new method.

  • I can't write straight even with lined paper, so this question looks to me very subjective. Maybe more practice will help
    – vladiz
    Commented Mar 18, 2015 at 14:09
  • @vladiz Well... it is subjective - to me, as I am the one asking the question - I am the one looking for an answer - all questions are subjective to one person or another.
    – MrPhooky
    Commented Mar 18, 2015 at 14:31
  • Interesting question - graphologists always ask for a sample on plain paper - which way your handwriting slopes and the straightness or otherwise of the line of handwriting says different things about one's personality and mood. If you believe in handwriting analysis at all, it implies that most of us can't help the line going up, down or sloping generally
    – Bamboo
    Commented Mar 19, 2015 at 14:11

9 Answers 9


There a several options to create an invisible line to help you write:

  • Draw thin lines with a pencil and erase them afterwards. If you work with a soft pencil and without much force, the lines are easily erasable and you won`t mark the sheet.
  • If you are working on a poster, you could also provide a line with the help of a beamer/over head projector or some fancy laser liner. It should work best if you are left handed, since you otherwise cover the line with your arm/hand. Here is an example.
  • Also, you can work at the edge of a table or by placing a ruler under the paper. You will notice directly if you are not on the line. But it will be not beneficial for your style.
  • 1
    Welcome to Lifehacks! Please post a new answer for each solution. Please also refrain from using product links*. Thanks!
    – Mooseman
    Commented Mar 18, 2015 at 12:32
  • @Mooseman can we post several answers?
    – vladiz
    Commented Mar 18, 2015 at 14:08
  • 1
    @vladiz Yes. Each answer should only contain one solution. Multiple variations of a single solution should be only one answer, however.
    – Mooseman
    Commented Mar 18, 2015 at 14:14
  • 7
    Sorry, if I was too blint, but now the dump question. I just read again the tour and the help center. Where is it stated, that I shouldn`t post multiple ideas in one answer? If I post 3 different answere it feels to me like begging for upvotes/rep by posting multiple small answers.
    – Julian
    Commented Mar 18, 2015 at 14:36
  • 1
    @Julian The premise of every Stack Exchange site is that each solution is vetted vote so the best rise to the top. We first discussed it here in this introduction to Lifehacks post. Take a look here (for example): pets.stackexchange.com/q/7840/115. Different site, but I had several viable solutions to that user's problem, and nobody freaked out. It let the community and the author indicate which worked best. Nobody should think you are vying for rep if each solution is useful in their own right. Commented Mar 19, 2015 at 17:48

The easiest way to do this is to

  1. get another piece of paper

  2. print or draw lines set to the ruling you want (the height of the lines) in dark black ink on that page

  3. place that page underneath the line-less page on which you need to write

  4. using the lines visible through your line-less sheet, write your letter/document/whatever with nice, straight lines.

You'll be able to see the lines faintly through the line-less page, and you will not need any extraneous objects on your page nor will you need to erase lines after you're done writing.

If the paper on which you need to write is thick or printed-on like a birthday card, this probably won't work, but it'll do well for most normal paper.

Here's a sample page:

sample page

  • Sheets of pre-printed lines are often available at a local art supply store. Look in the calligraphy section, and they can be had in paper or transparency, for use with light boxes.
    – Edwin Buck
    Commented Apr 25, 2017 at 22:32
  • It used to be common for commercially available letter writing pads to come with a heavily lined sheet for exactly this purpose. Commented Jan 2, 2021 at 12:43

As far as I know there isn't really a hack to write in a straight line, but there are a couple of tips that can help you practice:

  • I don't know how you write, but I was taught to turn the paper at an angle when writing. If you also do so, you can try adjusting the angle as soon as you notice your lines being not straight or not parallel.
  • If your unlined paper is thin enough (otherwise you could use a light box), put lined paper behind it and use it as a guide.
  • When writing the first line, look at the top edge of the paper and use it as a guide. Then use the previous line as a guide for the next one.
  • Fold the paper twice in length (pictures here) and use the created fold-areas as guides. Write your first line and notice if your handwriting is going up or down. Try to write the second line more straight, practice!
  • I could also imagine, curved writing occurs, because we don't move our elbow (enough). Try moving the paper instead of your arm as you write a line.

Always try to look at the whole page from a distance, rather than focusing on the words and letters. Your neck will thank you later.

  • 1
    just to add onto this great list, write with your arm not your hand - a lot of people tend to try and control their writing only with their fingers and wrist when really you should be using your entire arm, hinged at your shoulder, to write, it gives you much more control and accuracy when writing
    – celeriko
    Commented Mar 18, 2015 at 14:26
  • 2
    I tried writing with my arms as you said but I don't think I understand - my writing isn't big enough to warrant a whole arm moving, hence the use of my fingers and wrist.
    – MrPhooky
    Commented Mar 19, 2015 at 13:14
  • 1
    The idea of putting lined paper behind plain paper is good enough. Also folding the paper 3 or 4 times is beneficial. I also tried it, and yes it works. If you are able to write on a plain paper even not so straight, you will see that your writing improves on lined paper automatically... Try it thanks.............
    – user7784
    Commented Aug 6, 2015 at 9:09

You could get a ruler or yard stick (depending on what size your project is) and tape it's sides down. Then you could slide the paper (or poster board or whatever) under the ruler/yard stick and use it like a pseudo-line to help keep your writing straight.


Obtain or make lined paper with extremely thick lines - if necessary you can make the black line as thick as a line of writing, and leave gap below it of the same height. If you put that underneath your plain paper the lines should show through.


Since 5th grade I have been able to freakishly write cursive in a straight line on plain paper. Freakishly is a term I heard from a lady commenting on my writing. My teacher in 5th grade explained to me to write with my arm and not wrist. meaning keep your wrist straight, do not bend it when writing. Practice does make a lot of difference as well.


I would suggest buying a colored A4(or whatever size you need) paper to use as guides instead of using a ruler like you tried. By making the colored paper perpendicular to your working paper you can use a replace guide/mask to the lower limit of your line. you can slowly move the colored paper down as you write more lines making sure your colored paper is perpendicular and you are moving down approximately the same amount each time you start a new line.

  1. Obtain a piece of ruled or graph paper and thicken the lines with a black permanent marker (preferably on both sides but make sure the two sides are aligned).
  2. Place this lined paper on a sheet of transparent plastic or glass supported by thick books or on a glass table.
  3. Orient a flash-light or table lamp so it shines up through the paper.
  4. Place the paper you are writing on on top and write!
  • Welcome to Lifehacks SE. These are two nice variations, but could you please extend the other solution to be formatted in bullet points or a numbered list? Maybe add a title? It would then look even nicer. In the future, also try to remember that usually we'd like to have only one option in each answer, but you are welcome to posting multiple answers!
    – holroy
    Commented Oct 11, 2015 at 23:11
  1. Another solution is to place a sheet of carbon paper on top of the paper you are writing on.

  2. Place a sheet of ruled or graph paper on top of the carbon paper and align them well.

  3. Push down hard on the pencil.

  4. Afterwards you can thicken the faint writing.

Note: Makeshift carbon paper can be rather tediously manufactured by filling in one side of the graph paper with a pencil.

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