Background. Handwriting remains an important skill throughout a student's school career and beyond. Only when the basic elements of this skill can be performed 'automatically' and quickly, can sufficient processing capacity be allocated to higher level components of writing such as composition. Although problems with handwriting are common and can lead to academic underachievement, few tools are available to measure handwriting quality or speed.Aim. The aim of this paper is to describe the development and UK standardization of a comprehensive test of handwriting speed, the Detailed Assessment of Speed of Handwriting.Methods. A stratified sample of 546 children between the ages of 9 and 16 performed five tasks: copying under 'best' and 'fast' instructions, writing the alphabet, free writing for 10 min, and a non-language based task involving drawing intersecting lines within concentric circles.Conclusions. Our data suggest that standard scores on the first four tasks plus a composite score of speed of writing may be used to provide objective evidence of 'slowness' of handwriting. In addition, the profile of scores across tasks along with standard scores on the fifth task, provide practitioners working in health and educational settings with supplementary information useful for describing the needs of those with handwriting difficulties in more detail. Preliminary data showing adequate reliability and validity of this new instrument are also reported.