Explaining French-rule (séyès)

I threw together this little video because so many people asked me about French-ruled paper and how it works. It’s pretty straightforward, really. Just watch the vid, it’s only 5 minutes 😉

Link to YouTube for iPhones and full-screen viewing.

2017-10-06T18:00:55+00:00 September 30th, 2010|Paper Reviews, Tips & Tricks|26 Comments
  • Writing with French rule paper is actually a bit more complicated than this.

    I'd direct your attention to the following link: http://www.fountainpennetwork.com/forum/index.php?/topic/30193-for-what-is-french-ruled-notepaper-used/page__view__findpost__p__291114

    He includes a picture of the alphabet as written on Seyes paper.

    Here's a quote from his text:

    "- Capital letters are supposed to be 3 thin line high and 2 thin lines below for lower loops if any.
    – Lower case letters
    * main part is supposed to be written between the base bold line and the first thin line up.
    * upper loops are to be made up to the third thin line up
    * upper strokes are made up to the second thin line up.
    * lower loops and lower stokes (as in "p") are made down to the second thin line down"

    HTH

  • I guess I was over-simpliying a bit…I suppose even I have a lot to learn when it comes to séyès!

  • rotomfan

    Ref "Writing with French rule paper is actually a bit more complicated than this.

    I'd direct your attention to the following link:"

    I don't think you need to tell BG how to suck eggs, Dizzy. He was part of that thread you referenced so he's obviously read it.

  • I'm just being helpful and Brian knows that. I've had many a conversation with him including doing a couple guest blog post for him.

    Learn some manners "rotomfan".

  • I'm glad you pointed it out to me Dizzy! I just wish I'd paid closer attention to the thread before I made the video 😛

  • It's still a great video as per usual. You are really getting good at these stuff! It seems you've got a really Goulet style emerging!

    What's more, it is still a very very useful intro into Seyes / French Ruled paper. I don't think there is an absolute right or wrong to it, but the traditional use is a bit different than your video.

    Take care, and keep the videos coming. 😀

  • Thanks Dizzy! I was going more for the 'Americanized' use of it, aka, simplified! Maybe I can do a 'part 2' with the traditional French use after a little more research 😉

  • Anonymous

    Concerning this little dustup, I'd say the only one who needs any "manners" is the one who never learned to 'praise in public and correct in private.'

    Enjoyed the colloquialism, RotomFan. You made your point quite nicely. 😉

    BTW, I know what a Rotom is, mischievous little Pokémon critter.

  • Anonymous

    Brian,
    Don't forget that in most of the world the "two hole" punch is also very common, more so than the three, four or five holed punch.

    Good video though!

  • Anonymous

    Brian,
    Don't forget that in most of the world the "two hole" punch is also very common, more so than the three, four or five holed punch.

    Good video though!

  • Anonymous

    Concerning this little dustup, I'd say the only one who needs any "manners" is the one who never learned to 'praise in public and correct in private.'

    Enjoyed the colloquialism, RotomFan. You made your point quite nicely. 😉

    BTW, I know what a Rotom is, mischievous little Pokémon critter.

  • I'm glad you pointed it out to me Dizzy! I just wish I'd paid closer attention to the thread before I made the video 😛

  • I'm just being helpful and Brian knows that. I've had many a conversation with him including doing a couple guest blog post for him.

    Learn some manners "rotomfan".

  • Anon

    I didn't learn much in school in France (I was only there for just over a year and I am no good at languages) but I still use Séyès paper myself and in my teaching.

    I still have the note my French teacher wrote for me (in English) telling me how to use Séyès:

    "Lower case letters:

    – round letters (or the round part of lower case letters) must be contained above the solid base line and below the first feint line;
    – tall letters reach the third feint line;
    – letters going below the base line must not drop more than one line; and,
    – t is special, it reaches the second feint line and should be crossed just above the first feint line.

    Upper case letters:

    Capital letters go up to the third feint line and, if necessary, may go below the base line to the next feint line."

    I always had and have trouble keeping my below the line lower case letters from going to low – it was easier when my knuckles were rapped with a steel ruler in class, but now I admit to being lax on that rule!

  • Isabel Lopez del Rincon Trouss

    Hi Brian, I was just going to clarify the correct way to write on séyès paper: I'm French-born and schooled… but then I read Dizzypen's comment and he's absolutely correct! I'm glad you guys carry  Clairfontaine's, because it has such a smooth surface, the fountain pens just glide on them (yes, in French schools we also had to use fountains in addition to that kind of paper, so it kinda sticked with me and I just don't feel confortable using anything else as writing instrument).
    I've been referred to your store and blog by Joanne Sharpe and it's blowing me away… now I just need to decide which fountain pens AND inks I'm going to get!

  • Admittedly, I am not 'schooled' in the use of séyès paper, so I greatly appreciate being told the correct way to do it. 

    Joanne is great! She does some great work, and really enjoys teaching others about what she does. I'm glad you're enjoying my blog 🙂

  • Plume145

    +1 on how to use Seyes. It's pretty complicated, and *technically*, u're doin it rong in the sample shown in the video. Not that it stops the end result from looking gorgeous anyway!

    Seyes is kind of an acquired taste. Used as intended, it's not very kind to differences in handwriting – it's a very normative paper. But that's exactly what makes it so awesome as a learning tool. For penmanship like you said, but maybe even more so for note-taking – it helps you organize the page like no other paper that I've seen. That Cornell stuff comes close, in fact it looks a lot similar in the broad strokes, as though it was inspired by Seyes; but even that doesn't take it as far as Seyes. I think when you called Seyes 'intense', it was just spot-on! lol

    But if you take a lot of notes from someone speaking, as in a meeting or even more so in a classroom setting, Seyes is an invaluable aid in standardizing the way you organize your page – things like keywords, section headings, separating principles from examples or exceptions, etc, for maximum readability. And reviewability, to coin a term: in the hands of a practiced user, you can review material and even revise for exams straight from the notes – no flash cards or other study aids needed. Even a fairly average french high school can get remarkably intense on the academia, so you can definitely use all the time shortcuts you can get! (Six or more hours a week of Literary analysis at 15, anyone?)

    I wanted to put a link to some class notes using Seyes as an example, but I couldn't find anything through a quick Google. Maybe it's the sort of thing that's totally obvious and familiar if you use it all the time, so few people ever think to put it online unless it comes to a situation like this! Ah well, if anyone's interested I'm pretty sure a few of my school notes survive somewhere, I can dig them out and scan some to use an example 🙂

  • Yeah, I pretty much knew as I was shooting this video that I wasn't using it 'properly', and even with all the research I could do, I was barely able to find anything about how it's really intended to be used. So I just gathered up the best of what I could because I had so many people asking me what in the world was even going on with the paper! I appreciate all of your thoughts, you've clearly used the stuff more than I have 😉 It's too intense! 🙂 

  • Plume145

    no problem 🙂 But again, it still looks real nice even if it's not 'proper' and that's the main purpose of the exercise lol. AND it also does the job of showing the idea of how it's meant to be used, because when faced with a blank sheet of THAT, I can see how people would be like, 'wha? huh?' 😛

    yeah, I've used this stuff lots. Kinda not much choice in a french school, at least through about age 14-15…after that you get more choice if you want it, but then the academics really kick into high gear round about that time so it becomes a good choice for that reason. 

  • Haha, yes, it can be intimidating to folks in the US especially, because we're raised with this stuff (see image). Of course, now our Department of Education isn't requiring our schools to teach cursive writing anymore, so soon enough kids will have a hard time knowing how to write on any paper!

  • Plume145

    That's pretty close to the stuff taught in french primary school, actually (at least as far as the nineties). Except it's practiced first on something with a weird triple line thing (like this: http://www.desmoulins.fr/scripts/online/feuilles/feuille_apprendre_ecriture.php ) for the first few months, then on Seyes. Otherwise, only a few letters differ from the standard – see dizzypen's link further down. That's the standard thing.

    hey make a fuss for most of primary school, then they leave you to your own devices around the beginning of the sixth year, or thereabouts. People would typically evolve to doing something that was somewhere in between this and separate letters that mimic type (is that called printing? I think).

    Funny thing is, sometimes I still do these letters as a practice alphabet when I'm doodling – sick right? hehe

  • Dusty

    Hi, thanks for the helpful video! But more than the video, my eyes went starry at ALL THE PAPER PRODUCTS you have behind you!

  • Oh, and that was about 2.5 years ago, you should see what I have now 😉

  • replicacobra

    This is good information! It'll help with my practice. Also, I'd give yourself a little stylistic license to make the deep letters a little longer if you wish 🙂

    Also, I believe you may be mistaking a pair of words, faint and feint. Faint is a barely visible object (line), and feint is when someone fakes a move one way before going another (usually in sports).
    Thanks for your post!

  • jack wilson

    Thanks for sharing this informative blog. Learn French as a second language is really useful for professional as well as students. Fita is reputed training academy which offers French Classes in Chennai.

  • Erik Wikman

    I have read other rules and they have led to some of my best handwriting if not THE best handwriting I have ever done.

    1. Capital letters go up to the third line.
    2. Lower case “bodies” – like a, c, the circle part of d or p – go up to the first line.
    3. Loopy stems go up to the third line – b, f, h, k, l.
    4. Non-loopy or straight stems go up to the second line – just d and t.
    5. Anything that goes below the line – f, g, j, p, q, y, z – go down two lines.

    Erik