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MODULE 3: HANDWRITING IDENTIFICATION AND EXAMINATION

This module presents the various principles of identification, basis of handwriting identification,
variation, development of handwriting of an individual, recognition of handwriting characteristics and movement
in handwriting. Further, this module comprehensively discusses writing characteristics and other identifying
features.

LESSSON 3.1 PRINCIPLES OF IDENTIFICATION

1. No two writers write exactly alike.


2. The physical writing condition and position of the person including his writing instrument may affect the
handwriting characteristics but they do not confine all its identity elements.
3. A writer cannot exceed his maximum writing ability or skill without serious effort and training over a
period of time.
4. The combination of handwriting characteristics including those derived from form and writing movements
are essential elements of identification.
5. Individuality in handwriting can only be determined through comparison examination with the standard
written or prepared under comparable condition.
6. Similarity does not mean identity.
7. Complete identity means forgery.
8. Sufficiency of specimen.

a.) A writing was written by one person when there is sufficient number of identical writing habits and identical
primary controlling characteristic and in addition, the absence of divergent characteristics.

b.) A writing was not written by one person when there is a sufficient number of divergent writing characteristics
and the absence of identical primary controlling characteristics.

HANDWITING- It is the result of a very complicated series of facts, being used as whole, combination of certain
forms of visible mental and muscular habits acquired by long, continued painstaking effort. Some defined
handwriting as “visible speech”.

Kinds of writing:

A. Cursive – connected; writing in which one letter is joined to the next.

B. Script – separated or printed writing.

C. BLOCK – all CAPITAL LETTERS.

LESSON 3.2 BASISI OF HANDWRITING IDENTIFICATION

A. In Wignore’s Principles of Judicial Proof, handwriting is defined as visible effect or bodily movement which
is an almost unconscious expression of fixed muscular habits, reacting from fixed mental impression of
certain ideas associated with script form.
B. Environment, education and occupation affect individuals so variously in the formation of these muscular
habits that finally the act of writing becomes an almost automatic succession of acts stimulated by these
habits.
C. The imitation of the style of writing by another person becomes difficult because the other person cannot
by mere will power reproduce himself all the muscular combination from the habit of the first writer.

D. Is handwriting/signature identification an “exact science”? – In the hand of a qualified examiner operating


under proper condition, identification by means of handwriting/signature is certain. Proper conditions
include:
1. Sufficient questioned writing
2. Sufficient known writing
3. Sufficient time
4. Use of scientific instrument

Physiological basis of handwriting

In writing the pen functions as extension of the hand. The fingers transmit to the paper, the directive impulse
and the variation in muscular tension that according to the nature of the writer’s nervous organization occur
during the act of writing. This center near the motor area of the cortex is responsible for the finger movement
involved in handwriting. The importance of this center is that when it becomes diseased as in a graphic, one loses
the ability to write although he could still grasp a fountain pen, ball pen or pencil. Thus, the ability or power to
hold a fountain pen or pencil to form symbols and words can be said to emanate from its cortical center.

Two groups of Muscles Involve in Handwriting:

1. extensor muscles – push up the pen to form an upward stroke

2. flex muscles – which push the pen to form the downward stroke.

Generally speaking, four groups of muscles are employed in writing – those which operate the joints of the
fingers, wrist, elbow, and shoulder. The delicate way in which the various muscles used in writing together to
produce written for is known as motor coordination.

LESSSON 3.3 VARIATION IN HANDWRITING

A more or less definite pattern for each is stored away in the subjective mind but the hand does not always
produce a stereotyped duplicate of that pattern. The hand ordinarily is not an instrument of precision and
therefore we may not expect every habitual manual operation to be absolutely uniform. The greater this skill in
the art of penmanship, the less the variations there will be in the form of individualize letters as well as in the
writing as a whole.

CAUSES OF VARIATION

1. Function of some external condition i.e. influence of the available space.


2. Abnormal conditions such as physical injury, toxic effects, inebriation’s, emotion and deception.
3. Position of letter – all the letters to be found initially, medially, and finally. The fact of the different
position, especially in combination with another and particular letter , may modify any of them in some
way of another.
Importance of variation

1. Personal variation encountered under normal writing conditions is also a highly important element of
identification. The qualities of personal variation include both its nature and its extent. It becomes
necessary to determine the amount, extent, and exact quality of the variations.
2. It is improbable that the variety and extent of the variation in handwriting will be exactly duplicated in two
individuals that such a coincidence becomes practically impossible and this multitude of possible
variations when combined is what constitutes individuality in handwriting.
3. With a group of signatures of a particular writer, certain normal divergence in size, lateral spacing and
proportions actually indicate genuineness. Variation is genuine writing is ordinarily in superficial parts and
in size, degree of care given to the act, design, slant, shading, vigor, angularity, roundness and direction of
stroke.

LESSON 3.4 DEVELOPMENT OF HANDWRITING OF AN INDIVIDUAL

1. Children learn writing by following the school copy or model.


2. After acquiring some degree of skill the children no longer follow the school model.
3. As speed increases, conscious designs and regularity begin to break.
4. In the course of trial and error, modification are made, simplification and elaborations, addition and
omission occurs.
a. The writing pattern of each children embodies unique combination of such deviation from the
standard letter forms or school model, and becomes his personal habits.
b. Although thousands learned the same system and the natural result is identity, but facts show
that it is not because those who were taught the same system or school copy a class of writers,
but such impairs does not by any means produce a slavish uniformity.

SCHOOL COPY BOOK FORM (school model) – refers to the standard of handwriting instruction taught in particular
school. Classes of copy book depend on the standard school copy adopted by a writer.

A. SYSTEM of Early American Handwriting


1. Old English round hand – an Italian hand popular in 1840
2. Modified round Hand – early edition of the Spencerian, and the Payson, Dunton, and Scribners
copy book – 1840-1860.
3. Spencerian – there is simplification by the omission of extra strokes and flourishes. And a general
tendency toward plainer letters than the preceding system, some of which were very ornate –
1860-1890.
4. Modern vertical writing 1890-1900.
5. The army movement writing – the manner or method of writing, instead of the form alone is
especially emphasized.

Out of these five divisions of early handwriting, the modern commercial hand system
developed. This is characterized by free movement. And the forms adopted are suited to easy rapid writing. These
are the Zaner and Blozer system of arm movement writing and the Palmer system of arm movement. The last
great revolution in America handwriting was adopted of vertical writing which was in fact a reversion to the old
system of slow but legible writing. The connecting stroke is based on the small circle and is the most distinctive
“round hand” ever devised. It was very slow compared with writing based on the narrow ellipse like the
Spencerian in which all connection were almost points instead of broad curves. Most commercial handwritings
tend toward straight connecting stroke and narrow connection.
B. SOME MODERN SCHOOL MODEL FORMS
1. Palmer Copybook
2. D’Nealian Copybook
3. British Copybook
4. French Copybook
5. German Copybook

C. SIGNIFICANCE OF SCHOOL COPY FORMS or System Characteristics as Basis in the Identification of


Handwriting
1. Similarities of form are not indicative of identity unless they concern unusual form or what are termed
deviation from the normal. Similarities are bound to occur in different writings but such similarities exist
only in letters which are normal in form, the fact bears no significance.
2. All differences in form are indicated of non-identity.
3. The likeness in form maybe general and simply indicated the class or genus or the difference that does
not differentiate maybe nearly superficial.
4. In many system of writing, the date and influences of system of writing have an important bearing on the
question of genuine or of forgery and in other cases, the presence of European characteristics in
handwriting is a vital and controlling fact.

D. IMPORTANCE OF THE DESIGN OF THE LETTERS (System of Writing)


1. To the nationality of the writer.
2. To the system learned.
3. To the date when the writing was acquired.
4. To some of the influences that have surrounded the writer.

LESSON 3.5 RECOGNITION OF WRITING CHARACTERISTICS

The following are the writing characteristics commonly involved in the examination of handwriting:

1. Form – This refers to the shape or design of the individual letters.


2. Slope or Slant – It is an angle or inclination of the axis of letters relative to the baseline.
3. Size – As a wiring characteristic is somewhat divergent under varying condition and may have but little
significance when applied to only one example, or to a small quality of writing like a signature unless the
divergence is very pronounced.
4. Proportion – Individual characteristic in relative proportion of letters or proportion of a part of a letter or
relative height of one letter to another letter can be found in different writing. Proportion of letters is one
of the hidden features of writing.
5. Ratio – The relation between the tall and short letters is referred to as the ratio of writing.
6. Connecting Stroke – this refers to the strokes of links that connects a letter with the one following: In
signatures, it is common practice among many writers to write their signatures with the initials and
connected without lifting the pen, In writing, many writers habitually drop the connection before certain
letters(particularly small letters within words)
7. Terminal Strokes and Initial Strokes – When a letter, word or name is completed in a free, natural writing,
the pen is usually raised from paper while in motion with a “flying finish”(or what is also referred as
“vanishing”, “tapering” or “flourishing” terminal stroke) and with many writers, the motion of the pen also
slightly proceeds the putting of the pen on the paper at the beginning with “flying start” so that the stroke
at the beginning and end of the words gradually diminish or taper to a “vanishing point”.
8. Pen lift – It is an interruption in a stroke caused by removing the pen from the paper.
9. Hiatus – Is a gap between strokes due to speed in writing and defective writing instrument.
10. Lateral Spacing – lateral spacing is considered as a common characteristics when it conforms to the
ordinary book form.
11. Shading – It is widening of the ink stroke with increase pressure on the paper surface.
12. Line Quality – refers to the visible record in the written stroke of the basic movement and manner of
holding the writing instrument.
13. Alignment – is the relation of the parts of the whole line of writing or line of individual letters in words or
signature to the baseline.
14. Rhythm – It is the balanced quality of the harmonious recurrence of stress or impulse.
15. Pen pressure – It is the average force in which the pen makes contact with the paper or the usual force
involved in writing.
16. Tremor – means “deviation from uniform strokes due to lack of smoothness perfectly apparent even
without magnification”.
17. Natural Variation – variation is: due to lack of machine-like precision of the human hand, it I also caused
by external factor, such as writing instrument and the writing position, influenced by physical and mental
conditions such as fatigue, intoxication, illness, nervousness and the age of the writer, due the writing
quality prepared in the course of time, variation in genuine signature appears in superficial parts and does
not apply to the process of writing.
18. Rubric or Embellishment – This refers to additional unnecessary strokes not necessary to legibility of
letter forms or writing but incorporated in writing for decorative or ornamental purpose.

TECHNICAL TERMS

1. ALIGNMENT – Is the relation of parts of the whole of writing or line of individual letter in words to the
baseline. It is the alignment of words or the relative alignment of letter.
2. ANGULAR FORM – Sharp, straight strokes that are made by stopping the pen and changing direction
before continuing.
3. ARCADE FORMS – Forms that look like arches rounded on the top and open at the bottom.
4. CHARACTERISTICS – any property of mark which distinguishes and in document examination commonly
called to as the identifying details.
5. COLLATION – side by side comparison; collation as used in this text means the critical comparison on side
by side examination.
6. COMPARISON – the act of setting two or more items side by side to weight their identifying qualities; it
refers not only visual but also the mental act in which the element of one item are related to the
counterparts of the other.
7. DISTINGUISED WRITING – A writer may deliberately try to alter his usual writing habits in hopes of hiding
his identity. The results, regardless of their effectiveness are termed distinguished writing.
8. DOWNSTROKE – The movement of the pen towards the writer.
9. FORM – The writer’s chosen writing style. The way the writing looks, whether it is copybook, elaborated,
simplified or printed.
10. GARLAND FORM – A cup-like connected form that is open at the top and rounded on the bottom.
11. GESTALT – THE German word that means “complete” or “whole”. A good gestalt needs nothing added or
taken away to make it “look right”. Also a school of handwriting analysis that looks at handwriting as a
whole picture.
12. GRAPHOANALYSIS – The study of handwriting based on the two fundamental strokes, the curve and the
straight strokes.
13. GRAPHOMETRY – ANALYSIS BY COMPARISON AND MEASUREMENT.
14. GRAPHOLOGY – The art of determining character disposition and amplitude of the person from the study
of handwriting. It also means the scientific study and analysis of handwriting, especially with reference to
forgeries and questioned documents.
15. HANDLETTERING – Any disconnected style of writing in which each letter is written separetly: also called
hand printing.
16. LETTER SPACE – The amount of space left between letters.
17. LINE DIRECTION – Movement of the baseline. May slant up, down or straight across the page.
18. LINE QUALITY – the overall character of the ink lines from the beginning to the ending strokes. There are
two classes: GOOD LINE QUALITY and POOR LINE QUALITY. The visible records in the written stroke of the
basic movements and manner of holding the writing instrument is characterized by the term “line quality”.
It is derived from the combination of factors including writing skills, speed rhythm, freedom of
movements, shading and pen position.
19. LINE SPACE – The amount of space left between lines.
20. MANUSCRIPT WRITING – A disconnection form of script or semi-script writing. This type of writing is
taught in young children in elementary schools as the first step in learning to write.
21. MARGINS – The amount of space left around the writing on all four sides.
22. MICROSCOPIC EXAMINATION – Any study or examination which is made with the microscopic in other to
discover minute details.
23. MOVEMENT – It is an important element in handwriting. It embraces all the factors which are related to
the motion of the writing instrument skill, speed freedom, hesitation, rhythm, emphasis, tremors and the
like.
24. NATURAL WRITING – Any specimen of writing executed normally without any attempt to control or alter
its identifying habits and its usual quality or execution.
25. NATURAL VARIATION – these are normal and usual deviations found between repeated specimens of any
individual writing.

3.6 MOVEMENT IN HANDWRITING

A. KINDS OF MOVEMENT
1. Finger Movement – the thumb, the first, second and slightly the third fingers are in actual motion.
Most usually employed by children and illiterates.
2. Hand Movement – produced by the movement of action of the whole hand with the wrist as the
center of attraction.
3. Forearm Movement – the movement of the shoulder, hand and arm with the support of the table.
4. Whole forearm Movement – action of the entire arm without resting. i.e., blackboard writing.

B. QUALITY OF MOVEMENT
1. Clumsy, illiterate and halting
2. Hesitating and painful due to weakness and illness
3. Strong, heavy and forceful
4. Nervous and irregular
5. Smooth, flowing and rapid

C. SPEED - Slow and drawn; Deliberate; average; and rapid


D. DIFFERENT MOVEMENTS EMPLOYED AFFECT WRITING IN – Smoothness; Directness; Uniformity;
Continuity of stroke; and Connecting or curves between letters

Motor Coordination
It is the special way in which the various muscles used in writing work together to produced
written forms.
The characteristics of Motor Coordination are:
1. Free, smelt round curves
2. Speed and gradual changes of direction
3. Pressure is always in a state of change, moving from light to heavy or from heavy to light.
4. The shading impulse is distributed over a considerable length of the line whereas in writing
produced with a slow motion as in the finger movement, the shading often has a “bunchy”
appearance, in which the maximum width of the shaded line is attained abruptly.

Faulty motor coordination’s are characterized by the following:

1. Wavering and very irregular line or stroke with uncertain and unsteady progress. There is no
freedom of movement along the strokes of the letter-forms. The writing is obviously very slow and
is typical of the writing of a young child or for any one who painstakingly draws a picture of an
unfamiliar form.
2. Angular Line- a very common fault of coordination. Curves, large and small are not smoothly
rounded and there is no gradual change of direction. On the contrary, and angle marks almost
every change are direction in the line. Investigation has disclosed that angles are accompanied by
lessening of writing speed.

Rhythm in Handwriting

Rhythm is a succession of connected, uniform strokes working in full coordination. This is manifested by
clear-cur accentuated stroke, which increases and decrease in which like perfect cones. Pressure is always in a
state of change moving from light to heavy or from light to heavy or from heavy to light.

A. LACK OF RHYTHM – Characterized by a succession of awkward, independent, poorly directed and


disconnected motions.
B. IMPORTANCE OF RHYTHM – By studying the rhythm of the succession of strokes, one can determine if
the writer normally and spontaneously or write with hesitation as if he is attempting to for another
signature.
C. LETTER OF CONNECTION – Determine the essential expression of the writing pattern. It is a mean
indicator of the neuromuscular function. Words are formed by connection letter to one another. Even
letters are formed by the joining of the upward and downward strokes. These types of connections are:
1. Arcade – a rounded stroke shaped like an arch. It is a slow mode of connection resulting from
controlled movement.
2. Garland – Links the downward strokes to the upstrokes with a flowing curve swinging from the
left to right. It is an easy, effortless mode of connection, written with speed.
3. Angular connective form – When the downward strokes and upward strokes meet directly,
angular connection is formed. This type of connection imposes a check on the continuity of
movement which is characterized by an abrupt stop and start in each turning point.
4. The thread like connective form – the joining of downward and upward strokes is slurred to a
threadlike tracing or where rounded turns used both top and bottom produce a double curve.
These forms appear both in the shaping of letters within the word.

Other terms concerning stroke

1. AIRSTROKE – The movement of the pen as it is raised from the paper and continues in the same direction
in the air.
2. COVERING STROKE – A stroke that unnecessarily covers another stroke in a concealing action.
3. FINAL – The ending stroke on a letter when it is the end of a word.
4. UPSTROKE – Movement of the pen away from the writer.
5. SEQUENCE OF SROKES – The order in which writing strokes are placed on the paper is referred to as their
sequence.
6. SUPPORTED STROKE – Upstrokes partially covering the previous down strokes. Originally taught in
European schools.
7. TRAIT STROKE – a school of handwriting analysis that assigns personality trait, manners to individual
writing strokes.

Qualities of the strokes

1. Expansion – whether the movement is extended or limited in its range with respect to both vertical and
horizontal dimension.
2. Co-ordination – whether the flow of movement is controlled or uncertain, smooth or jerky, continuous or
interrupted.
3. Speed – whether the movement has been rapid or slow and whether the pace has been steady or
variable.
4. Pressure – whether the pressure exerted in the movement and its upward and downward reach.
5. Direction – Left ward and right ward trend of the movement and its upward and downward reach.
6. Rhythm – in the sequence of movements that weave the total pattern, certain similar phases recur at
more or less regular intervals.

Handwriting problems

1. A signature/handwriting contested by its author which is reality is genuine and corresponds perfectly to
the ordinary, and habitual signatures of that person.
2. A signature/ handwriting contested by its author which is reality was written by him but in a way which
was different from the ordinary manner and which is more or less different from the common genuine
signature of that person.
3. A signature/handwriting contested by its author which is reality was written by a third person and which is
a forgery written in an attempted imitation of a model.
4. A spurious signature/handwriting written by somebody who did not attempt to imitate the signature of a
person and who uses a fictitious name and this to give his work the appearance of a signature.
5. An uncontested signature/ handwriting, in fact, genuine but written by an unknown person whose name
must be deciphered by the document examiner.
General classes of questions writing

1. Forged or simulated writings in which the attempt is made to discard one’s own writing and assume the
exact writing personality of another person.
2. Disguised - Those writings that are disguised and which the writer seeks to hide his own personality
without adapting that of another.

LESSON 3.7 HANDWRITING CHARACTERISTICS AND OTHER IDENTIFYING FEATURES

Writing Habits – Writing by all its thousand of peculiarities in combination is the most personal and individuals
thing that man does that leaves a record which can be seen and studies. This is what constitutes individuality in
writing.

1. GENERAL (CLASS) CHARACTERISTICS – This characteristics refer to those habits that are part of basic
writing system or which are modifications of the system of writing found among large group of writes that
have only slight identification value.
2. INDIVIDUAL CHARACTERISTICS - They are characteristics which are the result of the writer’s muscular
control, coordination, age, and health, and nervous temperament, frequency of writing, personality and
character.

Types of handwriting according to muscular control

 Loose writing - this is characterized by too much freedom of movement and lack of regulation. This is
noticed especially in tall letter forms.
 Restrained writing – there is lack of freedom and inhibited movement. It gives you the impression that
every stroke was made with great difficulty. This writing is small. There is distortion of letter forms which
may lead to illegibility.

Indications of speed (speedy) writing

a. Smooth, unbroken strokes and rounded forms


b. Frequent signs or tendencies to the right
c. Marked uncertainly as to the location of the dots of small letters “l”, “j” & crosses of small letter “t”.
d. Increased spontaneity of words or small letter “t” connected with the following words.
e. Letters curtailed or degenerated almost to illegibility towards the end of words.
f. Wide writing – width of letters is greater than the connecting spaces adjoining it.
g. Great difference in emphasis between up stroke and down strokes.
h. Marked simplification of letters especially capital letters.
i. Rising line.
j. Increased pen pressure.
k. Increase in the margin to left at the beginning of the line.

Indications of slow writing

a. Wavering forms and broken strokes


b. Frequent signs or tendencies to the left.
c. Conspicuous certainly as to the location of the dots of small letters “l”, “j”, or “t” crosses with scarcely
perceptible deviation from the intended direction.
d. Frequent pauses by meaningless blobs, angles, divided letters and retouches.
e. Careful execution of detail of letters, toward the end or names.
f. Narrow writing.
g. No difference in emphasis in upstroke and down stroke.
h. Ornamental or flourishing connection.
i. Sinking lines.

C. EXAMPLES OF COMMON CHARACTERISTICS

 Ordinary copy-book form


 Usual systematic slant
 Ordinary scale of proportion or ratio
 Conventional spacing

D. CLASSIFICATION OF INDIVIDUAL CHARACTERISTICS

1. Permanent characteristics – found always in his handwriting


2. Common or usual – found in a group of writers who studied the same system of writing.
3. Occasional - found occasionally in his writing.
4. Rare – special to the writer and perhaps found only in one or two persons in a group of one hundred
individuals.

E. HOW INDIVIDUAL CHARACTERISTICS ARE ACQUIRED

1. Outgrowth of definite teaching


2. Result of imitation
3. Accidental condition or circumstances
4. Expression of certain mental and physical traits of the writer as affected by education, by environment
and by occupation.

F. EXAMPLES OF SOME OF THE INDIVIDUAL CHARACTERISTICS

 Hook to the right and hook to the left


 Shape, position, size, and angle of “I” dots “t” crossing
 Idiosyncrasies – behavioral attributes
 Bulbs and distinctive initial and final pen pressure
 Embellishment, added strokes and free movement endings
 Abbreviation of letters
 Simple and compound curves and graceful endings
 Labored movement producing ragged lines
 Terminal shadings and forceful endings
 Pressure and influence of foreign writing, with the introduction of Greek “e”

Points to consider in examining extended writing (Anonymous, threat, poison letters)

1. Uniformity – Does the questioned writing have smooth, rhythmic and free-flowing appearance?
2. Irregularities – Does the questioned writing appear awkward, ill-formed slowly drawn?
3. Size and Proportion – Determine the height of the over-all writing as well as the height of the individual
strokes in proportion to each other.
4. Alignment – Are they horizontally aligned, or curving, uphill or downhill.
5. Spacing – Determine the general spacing between letters, spacing between words. Width of the left and
right margins, paragraph indentations.
6. Degree of Slant – Are they uniform or not?
7. Formation and Design of the letters, ”t” (-) bars. “I” dots, loops, circle formation.
8. Initial, connecting and final strokes.

Hand printing

The procedure and the principle involved are similar to that of cursive handwriting. In block capital and
manuscript writings, personal individual rests principally in design, selection, individual letter construction, size
ratios and punctuation habits. The initial step in handwriting examination is to determine whether the questioned
handwriting and standards were accomplished with:

1. A fluency of movement and a certainty of execution indicative of familiarity with and a measure or skill in
handwriting of conversely.
2. A conscious mental effort and non-rhythmic execution denoting either unfamiliarity with or disguise in the
subject’s handwriting.