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Chapter 15 Document and Handwriting Analysis


Title: Forensic Science Documentation Author: Barb Weekley Last modified by: Verhovsek Created Date: 6/29/2001 8:12:45 PM Document presentation format – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Chapter 15 Document and Handwriting Analysis

Chapter 15 Document and Handwriting Analysis
  • The handwriting on the wall may be a forgery
  • Ralph Hodgson, British poet

Document Analysis
Students will learn
  • That an expert analyst can individualize
    handwriting to a particular person.
  • What types of evidence are submitted to the
    document analyst.
  • Three types of forgery.
  • How to characterize different types of paper.

Document Analysis
  • Students will be able to
  • Analyze handwriting using 12 points of analysis.
  • Detect deliberately disguised handwriting.
  • Detect erasures and develop impression writing.
  • Design an experiment using paper chromatography
    to determine which pen altered a note.
  • List safeguards against the counterfeiting of
    U.S. currency.

Questioned Documents
  • Involves the examination of handwriting, ink,
    paper, etc. to ascertain source or authenticity
  • Examples include letters, checks, licenses,
    contracts, wills, passports
  • Investigations include verification,
    authentication, characterizing papers, pigments,
    and inks

Related Fields
  • Historical Datingthe verification of age and
    value of a document or object
  • Fraud Investigationfocuses on the money trail
    and criminal intent
  • Paper and Ink Specialistsdate, type, source,
    and/or catalogue various types of paper,
    watermarks, ink, printing/copy/fax machines,
    computer cartridges
  • Forgery Specialistsanalyze altered, obliterated,
    changed, or doctored documents and photos
  • Typewriting Analystsdetermine origin, make, and
  • Computer Crime Investigatorsinvestigate

Document Examination
  • Forensic Document Examination involves the
    analysis and comparison of questioned documents
    with known material in order to identify whenever
    possible, the author or origin of the questioned
  • Over the years, the knowledge of how to write
    becomes subconscious and individualized.
  • Because it is a subconscious activity, it is
    difficult to disguise or fake.
  • Given enough and recent exemplars (sample for
    comparison), handwriting can be presented as
    individual evidence in court.

  • Handwriting analysis involves two phases
  • The hardwareink, paper, pens, pencils,
    typewriter, printers
  • Visual examination of the writing

Handwriting Characteristics
  • 12 pts. to compare between known and questioned
  • 1. Line Qualitysmooth or shaky
  • 2. Word and Letter Spacing-check distance
  • between letters and words
  • 3. Letter Comparisoncheck height, width and
  • size of letters.
  • 4. Pen Lifts and Separation check how and
  • does the writer lift his pen
  • 5. Connecting strokes check how capital
    letters connect
  • to others how strokes connect between
    letters and words
  • 6. Beginning and ending strokes check how
  • begin and end straight, curled, long,
    short, etc.

  • Unusual Letter Formationcheck for backwards
  • letters with tails, or unusual capital
  • Shading or pen pressurecheck for amount of
  • used on downward and upward strokes
  • 9. Slantcheck for left, right, or no slant
  • 10. Baseline Habitscheck if it follows a
    straight line across
  • the page or moves up or down
  • 11. Flourishes or embellishments check for fancy
  • little curls, loops, hearts, etc.
  • 12. Diacritic Placementcheck how the ts are
    crossed or is
  • are dotted

Handwriting Identification
  • Analysis of the knowns with a determination of
    the characteristics found in the known
  • Analysis of the questioned or unknown writing and
    determination of its characteristics
  • Comparison of the questioned writing with the
    known writing.
  • Evaluation of the evidence, including the
    similarities and dissimilarities between the
    questioned and known writing
  • The document examiner must have enough exemplars
    to make a determination of whether or not the two
    samples match.

Handwriting Samples
  • The subject should not be shown the questioned
  • The subject is not told how to spell words or use
  • The subject should use materials similar to those
    of the document
  • The dictated text should match some parts of the
  • The subject should be asked to sign the text
  • Always have a witness

Methods of Forgery
  • There are three methods of forgery
  • 1. Blind forgerymade without a model of the
    signature forger uses his/her own handwriting
  • 2. Simulated forgeryone made by copying a
    genuine signature can be difficult to link to a
  • 3. Traced forgeryone made by tracing a genuine
    signature stereomicroscopic examination is used
    to detect this.

Types of Forgery
  • Check Fraud
  • Forgery
  • Counterfeit
  • Alterations
  • Paper Money
  • Counterfeit
  • Identity
  • Social Security
  • Drivers license
  • Credit Cards
  • Theft of card or number
  • Artimitation with intent to deceive
  • Microscopic examination
  • Electromagnetic radiation
  • Chemical analysis
  • Contractsalterations of contracts, medical

Document Alterations
  • Obliterationsremoval of writing by physical or
    chemical means can be detected by
  • Microscopic examinationupper layer of paper
    fibers is disturbed and can be seen
  • UV or infrared (IR) lightoptical brighteners
    added to paper will appear dark in areas where
    the coating has been disturbed
  • Digital image processinguse of lightening,
    darkening, contrast and filter tools help
    highlight obliterated markings

  • Indentationsimpressions left on paper beneath
    the primary writing can be detected by
  • Oblique lightingwill enhance the indentations
  • Electrostatic detection apparatus (ESDA) pour
    toner powder from a copy machine over a charged
    sheet of plastic covering the paper. This
    creates an image, which is then photographed

Famous Forgers and Forgeries
  • Major George Byron (Lord Byron forgeries)
  • Thomas Chatterton (Literary forgeries)
  • John Payne Collier (Printed forgeries)
  • Dorman David (Texas Declaration of Independence)
  • Mark Hofmann (Mormon, Freemason forgeries)
  • William Henry Ireland (Shakespeare forgeries)
  • Clifford Irving (Howard Hughes forgery)
  • Konrad Kujau (Hitler Diaries)
  • James Macpherson (Ossian manuscript)
  • George Psalmanasar (Literary forgery)
  • Alexander Howland Smith (Historical documents)

Forensic Linguist
  • Experts that look at the linguistic content (the
    way something is written) of a questioned
  • Language that is used can help to establish the
    writers age, gender, ethnicity, level of
    education, professional training, and ideology.

Individualizing Typing and Printing
  • Historically, it was common to individualize type
    based on the uniqueness of each typewriter.
  • Today, word processors and printers have made it
    more difficult to individualize. However,
    forensic scientists can still look for several
  • Color printers and photocopiers often add a
    pattern of tiny yellow dots to the printer,
    encoding the printers serial number
  • Trash marks made on paper by copy machines can be
    used things like gripper marks, debris, etc.

  • Most modern paper is made from wood pulp.
  • Some are manufactured mechanically (newspaper)
  • Some are treated with chemicals (stationary)
  • Some have additives such as cotton fibers (bond
  • Some have watermarks (design added during

  • Forensic scientists may look at the following
    differences to identify paper
  • Raw material
  • Weight
  • Density
  • Thickness as determined using a micrometer
  • Color
  • Watermarks
  • Age
  • Fluorescence under ultraviolet light

  • Chromatography is a method of physically
    separating the components of inks
  • Types
  • HPLChigh-performance liquid chromatography
  • TLCthin-layer chromatography
  • Paper Chromatographyused for water-based inks

Paper Chromatography of Ink
  • Two samples of black ink from two different
    manufacturers have been characterized using paper

Retention Factor (Rf)
  • A number that represents how far a compound
    travels in a particular solvent
  • It is determined by measuring the distance the
    compound traveled and dividing it by the distance
    the solvent traveled.

  • Lead
  • Hardness Scale a traditional measure of the
    hardness of the "leads" (actually made of
    graphite) in pencils. The hardness scale, from
    softer to harder, takes the form ..., 3B, 2B, B,
    HB, F, H, 2H, 3H, 4H, ..., with the standard
    "number 2" pencil being of hardness 2H.

  • Class characteristics may include general types
    of pens, pencils or paper.
  • Individual characteristics may include unique,
    individual handwriting characteristics trash
    marks from copiers, or printer serial numbers.

  • In 1996 the government started adding new
    security features to our paper money due to the
    advanced copying technologies that have raised
    the incidences of counterfeiting.
  • The 20 bill entered circulation on October of
    2003, followed by the 50 in September of 2004,
    and then the 10 in September of 2005.
  • Subtle background colors have been added along
    with other features to discourage counterfeiting.

More about Document Analysis
  • For additional information about document and
    handwriting analysis, check out Court TVs Crime
    Library at
  • Or forgery cases at