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Examining Handwriting

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Being able to identify handwriting characteristics can help you to spot forgeries, identify perpetrators, prove identities, tell about the age of documents, and so on. 

There are a number of characteristics of handwriting that should generally be examined. 

 

Arrangement of Writing 

The way that writing is arranged is often as unique and identifiable as the writing itself. 

In looking at the arrangement you are looking not at individual letters or words, but at how the writing is arranged on the document. 

Things to look at include margins, spacing, crowding, insertions and alignment. 

 

Language Use 

People have styles in their use of punctuation, phraseology and grammar. 

It is even often easy to see, for example, if a person uses an American, British or Australian dictionary. 

 

Character Construction 

This is particularly noticeable with printed, or block capital, letters.  

Many characters are almost always written the same way, such as a C or an S.  

However there are a number of characters that may be written in quite a few different ways, such as A, B, E, G, H, K, N, O, T and Y. 

In examining character construction you look at the order in which the strokes of a letter are made and the direction in which they are made. 

 

Proportions of Letters 

People use their own unique proportions for letters. 

The proportions refer to the height and width of letters or parts of letters. 

For example, in letters such as B or S some people have the bottom half fatter or thinner, or shorter or taller than the top half. 

 

Slant 

In looking at slant you consider how much the writing generally slopes to the left or right. 

 

Base Line 

People have base line habits, for example straight, dropping or rising base lines. 

People often even have identifiable base line characteristics for individual words. 

 

Diacritics 

How the dot for an i or the crossing for a t is placed is usually unique to a writer. Often there are patterns in the use. 

The way in which the crossing for a double t is placed is a good indicator. For example, is one stroke used for both letters or are two strokes used, how long is the stroke, how high is it, how angled is it, etc. 

 

Flourishes and Embellishments 

The flourishes and embellishments a person uses may even help identify the age of the person as there are styles that are used and go out of fashion. 

 

Line Quality 

Here you consider factors such as the naturalness, consistency and confidence of the line. 

 

Connecting Lines 

Sometimes people have a tendency not to lift the pen between certain words or letters where this is normally done.  

 

Pen Lifts and Separations 

How the pen is lifted and separations tend to form a style in the way a person writes. 

 

Other Factors 

By looking carefully at handwriting you will find other factors.

 

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For more tips, advice and practical pointers see Fraudproof Your Business Manual.