BACKGROUND: Handwriting is an important activity that is commonly affected by neurological and orthopaedic conditions. Handwriting research has predominantly involved children. Little is known about handwriting behaviour in healthy older adults. AIM: This study aims to describe the handwriting practices of 30 unimpaired adults aged 65 years and over. METHODS: In this cross-sectional observational study, data were collected from 30 older adults using a self-report questionnaire, digital pen recordings over three days and a handwriting log. Data were analysed using descriptive statistics. RESULTS: The mean age of participants was 75.1 years (standard deviation=6.9). Variations in handwriting were evident in letter size, slant and spacing. Participants wrote very little--a median of 18 words per occasion (interquartile range=10.5-26.9 words). Most handwriting involved self-generated text (85%), not copied or transcribed text. Participants stood while writing for 17% of handwriting occasions. The most common reasons for handwriting were note taking (23%) and puzzles (22%). CONCLUSIONS: Legibility may not depend exclusively on the handwriting script that a beginning writer is taught, but may be a result of other factors as the person ages. A comprehensive adult handwriting assessment and retraining programme should be relevant to older adults, including common handwriting activities, involving self-generated text and few words.