Morse Code: Learn the Fastest Way to Print

There are ways to print that everyone has learned in school. Start a capital B at the top, make a donw-stroke, come back up over the same line and then draw the loops. We aim to cut the time taken to print by reducing redrawn lines to a minimum, plus some techniques to distinguish one letter from another. This will aid your ability to copy Morse code just a little bit. And just a little bit less work here and just a little bit less work there adds up!

Lesson 1: Learn the Fastest Way to Print

  • Printing the Alphabet and Numerals contains an image taken from a 1967 Navy Training Manual posted on WB3GCK's web site at Perhaps there sits a copy of that manual in a public library that may yield a better-quality scanned image, but this was the only one I could find on the Internet that had a slash-zero in it.

Lesson 1 of this class sets out to teach a concise way to print the alphabet and numerals quickly and clearly, to permit easier copy of Morse code. After the 1967 U.S. Navy Training Manual's depiction of the best way to print, you find on the second page some of the alternatives that may work just as well to meet the “quick, concise” requirement. And you may find some of your own.

I have reworked the orininal image to make instructions more clearly presented.

Some questions came out of my first class concerning these instructions for printing characters, like “I see most of these letters are started from the bottom instead of from the top.” Time and work are saved by starting, say the letter P for one example, from the bottom left: Make an up-stroke on the left to the top, then turn right, loop down-and-around to middle-left to finish the loop. This avoids wasting time and effort to first do a down-stroke and then an up-stroke over the same line already drawn.


There are instances when the instructions shown can be performed in reverse-order. I found myself starting the letter J from the left side, down and clockwise, and up to the top. The concern here is that it looks like a J and not a U. And that's why there is a top bar on the J that would not be on a U. The Morse code J is one of the longest of the letters to send, so it may give you an extra moment in time to print.

I find myself doing the letter B in one stroke, starting at the top, down to the bottom left, then continue clockwise the bottom loop, clockwise the top loop—just the reverse of the training manual.

I find myself printing a Y from top-left-to-center-to-top-right, for the first stroke, then starting from center and going straight to the bottom for the second stroke. On this one, a second training manual said to do it that way, and I redid the Y accordingly.

The dash through the letter Z is to ensure there is no confusion if the top of the Z gets rounded like a number 2, or the number 2 gets flattened like a Z. (By the way, experienced operators call the letter Z, “Zed.” This helps avoid confusion in speech between “WB7C” or “WB7V” and “WB7Z,” for instance.)

There is no need for a stroke through the number 7 because there is no hook on the number 1.

There is always a slash through the zero to avoid confusion with the letter O. Unfortunately, there are few computer fonts that contain a slashed zero.

There are more equally valid ways of printing a letter besides the ones I show here from the 1967 Navy Training Manual, some of which are listed on the second page of the handout.

Only once you can quickly print clearly such that another person can read it, should you proceed to Lesson 2.

Next page: Lesson 2: A language of SOUND! First Page: Morse Code for the Radio Amateur