There's no 'right' way to hold a pencil but one way is considered to be the 'gold standard'

Business Insider US
There's a standard way to hold a pencil, but that doesn't mean it's the only way.
Canela Lopez
  • There's no "right" way to hold a pencil, but the dynamic tripod grasp is considered to be the standard, most common way to do it.
  • Children are typically taught to hold a pencil using the dynamic-tripod-grasp method.
  • This method consists of holding the pencil about an inch from its tip and using your thumb and index finger to hold the utensil while resting it on your middle finger.
  • For more stories, go to Business Insider SA.

Although you may now primarily communicate via text or email, knowing how to efficiently hold a pencil is an important skill you may have learned as a child.

But as you've gotten older, you may have noticed that not everyone holds a pencil the same way, which provokes the question: Is there a right way to hold a pencil?

Not exactly - but there is one popular pencil-holding grasp that is considered to be the standard.

Most of the time, children are taught to hold a pencil using the dynamic tripod grasp - which is widely considered to be the 'gold standard'

Somewhere between the ages of 4 and 7, most children are taught to master the proper way to hold a pencil. When children learn how to hold these writing utensils, they are typically taught that the dynamic tripod grasp is the correct method to follow - and are oftentimes encouraged to stick with it.

It is said that this specific grasp helps you have the most control over your pencil as you write.

The dynamic tripod grasp is actually considered to the "gold standard" for holding any writing utensil, be it a pencil, pen, or crayon, according to Denise Donica, an associate professor at East Carolina University's Department of Occupational Therapy program who has conducted research on the connection between grasp and handwriting legibility.

To do the dynamic tripod grasp, you will focus on your thumb, index finger, and middle finger
The dynamic tripod grasp (right) involves holding the pencil with two fingers, not three as seen on the left.
Canela Lopez

To achieve this grip, you'll want to keep your index (pointer) finger, thumb, and middle finger close to, but not touching, the tip of your pencil.

"The thumb and pointer finger are opposite each other on the barrel of the tool - about an inch from the tip," Donica told INSIDER. "If you have a pencil, it's going to be about where the sharpened part meets the painted part of the pencil, about where your thumb and pointer finger rest."

Once your hand is in this position, your thumb and pointer should be opposite each other, she explained. Your middle finger should be supporting the pencil. These three fingers form a triangular, tripod sort of shape.

"The barrel of the pencil sort of lays back on the hand, about where your knuckle is," Donica said. "That allows the fingers to be able to move and the wrist to control that tool pretty easily."

The tripod grasp isn't the only 'right' way to hold a pencil, but it's the most popular, she said

Donica said the tripod grasp is the "standard way of holding a pencil," but it's not the only way and it probably won't make a significant difference in your life whether you do it or not.

After all, using the dynamic tripod grasp to hold your writing utensil probably won't make your penmanship any better or worse, as some studies have suggested the way you grip your pencil doesn't impact how legible your handwriting is.

At the end of the day, it's all about what works for you and what feels the most comfortable.

"It's important that people understand that there's not only one way to hold a pencil. It's been thought for a while that the tripod grasp was the only way and if children can't do that, then clearly they aren't going to be successful," she told INSIDER. "However, there's research out there showing that there are lots of different grasps that can be successful."

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