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This paper describes a neural network-based technique for cursive character recognition applicable to segmentation-based word recognition systems. The proposed research builds on a novel feature extraction technique that extracts direction information from the structure of character contours. This principal is extended so that the direction information is integrated with a technique for detecting transitions between background and foreground pixels in the character image. The proposed technique is compared with the standard direction feature extraction technique, providing promising results using segmented characters from the CEDAR benchmark database.