THE pen may be mightier than the sword, but how many of us use it on a daily basis?

Texts, emails and other forms of communication have taken over, and the art of writing is in danger of dying out.

I regularly hear people saying “message me”, which, sadly, does not involve putting pen to paper.

My daughters’ homework and, latterly, college work is mostly set online, so there’s no actual writing involved there either.

Watching a history programme recently, during which the presenter had access to handwritten documents, beautifully presented using elegant calligraphy, it struck me that the age-old art of hand writing has never been more at risk than it is today.

Whether it involves a goose feather quill pen or a Bic Biro, and whether it’s a postcard, letter or 50-page piece of legislation, a handwritten document is an item to be treasured. A printed document lacks that special, personal touch.

It is a sad fact that, in today’s digital world, the humble shopping list is helping to keep handwriting alive. Pens are used to make household lists nearly four times more than to write letters.

As emails take over from hand-written notes, new research by greeting card retailer Clintons shows shopping and 'to do' lists are now the most popular reason to write by hand. Greeting cards and paper form filling follow close behind.

Unusually, I still use pen and paper for many things. Letters to friends are always handwritten, I fill forms in by hand rather than online and I even scrawled a letter to my bank the other day, using Basildon Bond and ballpoint. I imagine whoever received it pictured a crazy, wild-eyed recluse living in a cave.

I concede that business letters and other more formal documents are better typed, as not all handwriting is legible - try reading a handwritten doctor’s prescription - and using a Word document or email does allow you to keep a copy.

But the power of the pen dates back centuries. The TV documentary featured legal documents dating from Tudor times, pages and pages of them, crafted like a work of art. I wouldn’t volunteer to decipher them, particularly as they were in Latin, but the care and attention that went into each word was mind-boggling.

Future generations certainly won’t stock museums with our dull digital print outs.

I remember at school being taught to write in cursive, spending whole mornings doing long lines of g, or t, or s. I wrote until the day I left secondary school, continuing to handwrite essays at university. Now it does not take long for children to graduate to keyboards. The bulk of my daughters’ essay homework at secondary school was in digital format, and virtually all their university work is done on a laptop.

Examiners at some universities have confessed to having a difficult time reading the handwriting of the internet generation.

The increasing illegibility of students’ handwriting has prompted the University of Cambridge to consider ending 800 years of tradition by allowing laptops to replace pen and paper for exams.

Academics say that students are losing the ability to tackle examination papers by hand due to their reliance on laptops in lectures and elsewhere.

Sadly, even handwritten shopping lists won’t last forever - digital lists are gaining ground. A survey by website found that 42 percent of people use their smartphone to create and access their shopping list at the store. For millennials, that number jumps to 60 per cent.

Thank heaven for greeting cards. People still hand write them, surely?