What Is The Word For Bad Handwriting? Getty What is cacography? To answer this question, let’s look at one of our favorite authors: Jane Austen. She was known for her clean and eloquent prose and giving us such classics as Persuasion and Mansfield Park. But it seems the great novelist’s editor likely played a bigger role in Austen’s literary pursuits then previously thought. In fact, it seems that Austen may have been guilty of cacography, or “bad handwriting, poor penmanship, and incorrect spelling.” Her grammar, as well, may have been spotty. Few writers compose by hand any more, and electronic tools like spell check catch many of our mistakes. So, while we may be just as prone to errors as writers in past generations, we are less likely to leave a paper trail of our mistakes. What is orthography? Don’t confuse cacography with orthography. Orthography is what we strive for: correct spelling and “writing words with the proper letters.” It is also what the part of language study concerned with letters and spelling is called.