A handheld device 100 with a graphical user interface for entering handwritten text 102. The handheld device includes word and character input areas 104, 106 within a designated input area 108. Icons 110, 112, 114, 116 and 118 are disposed at the right side of the handwriting user interface 102. A scroll bar 120 may be disposed at the right side of the interface display 102. An entry that begins in the word input area 104 is treated as a handwritten word. A handwritten entry that begins in the character input area 106 is treated as a single character and may be one character in character string. Handwritten character entries are each matched against all potential characters.