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Gadgets & Gizmos

From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Send "handwritten" emails using Pilot Handwriting

15

February

When I was a kid I loved to get letters from my grandmother. Her handwriting was ornate and sometimes kind of hard to read, but it was just so personal and grandmotherly. She's been gone for many years but I kept a few of her letters and when I read them they still make me smile.

With all the emailing, tweeting, blogging and Facebooking these days, handwritten letters are a rare item and I can't remember the last time I actually wrote an actual letter to someone by hand. I sign cards, sign checks and write short notes to people but that's about it. So when I found a web site for creating a font from my own handwriting recently, I was excited by the idea of mixing old-fashioned handwriting with modern technology to create "handwritten" emails.

On the Pilot Handwriting site, you can use a webcam, camera or scanner to create a font of your handwriting. Sign up for a free account then follow the instructions and download the template. Fill in the squares with your handwriting and then submit your handwriting sample by uploading a file or scanning the sheet with your webcam. I chose the webcam method and watched as my font was instantly created as I held up the sheet to the camera. When the scan was done here's how my characters looked:

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Once your font is created you can name it and save it, and you can save more than one font in each account. So if you want to have a printed font and a cursive font just fill out and scan two templates. You can even edit the individual characters afterward to make them thinner, thicker or to clean them up a bit. When you're done, type your message on the site and you can either send the message it through email or post it to Facebook. The message in the email will be in your handwriting and it will be accompanied by a picture of one of Pilot's pens.

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It's not quite the same as sitting down and writing a letter by hand but it does add some personality and flair to your emails. If you want to use it just for your signature you could type it out on the site then make a screen grab to add to emails as an attachment.

If my grandmother was still with us she'd still send me letters the old-fashioned way and Pilot, primarily a pen company, is hoping the use of their site will inspire you to do the same. Each time you send an email from their site you'll see this message:

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Of course by signing up for an account on the site you are voluntarily adding your self to their email database for promotions. If you don't want to receive their promotional emails, you'll find the link to unsubscribe in the email you receive from them when you create your first font.

[Last modified: Tuesday, February 15, 2011 12:39pm]

    

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