It really is helpful to have a book on this topic in your home reference library. One of the more recent books on the topic is by Kip Sperry titled "Reading Early American Handwriting" (find in a library)
A classic Stryker-Rodda Understanding Colonial Handwriting
Websites can also be helpful: The best place to start to find these pages is (where else? ) Cyndi's List topic "Handwriting and Scripts".
Deciphering Old Handwriting From a course taught by Sabina J. Murray is a new addition to Cyndi's list and I think a nice basic introduction to the topic.
I enjoyed testing my skills on Michael Neill'spage Signatures -- Can You Read Them?
Working with scripts in foreign languages presents a double challenge; not only is the script in a different language, the words are not familiar. A very helpful tool is the "Word List" series put out out by the LDS Church. A few have downloadable PDF versions; the rest can be ordered at a nominal cost. If you are doing German research you will want to download the more extensive research guide "Handwriting Guide for German Gothic". If you must write letters to foreign countries, you will appreciate their letter writing guides, many of which are also availabel as downloadable PDF files.
Because so many documents are written in Latin, you might find this Beginner's Latin tutorial helpful.Palaeography: Reading Old Handwriting, 1500-1800, a practical onlinetutorial is available at the UK's National Archives.
English Handwriting, 1500-1700. An online course.
Need help with Scottish handwriting? See the "Online Tuition in thePalaeography of Scottish Documents, 1500-1750."
RootsWeb has a mailing list that may be of interest to researcherstrying to decipher old English documents.
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