Chapter 15

Chapter 15
Document and Handwriting
“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.
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Document Analysis
Students will be able to:
 Analyze handwriting using
12 points of analysis.
 Detect deliberately disguised
 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.
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Questioned Documents
 Involves the examination of handwriting,
ink, paper, etc. to ascertain source or
 Examples include letters, checks,
licenses, contracts, wills, passports
 Investigations include: verification,
authentication, characterizing papers,
pigments, and inks
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Related Fields
 Historical Dating—the verification of age and value
of a document or object
 Fraud Investigation—focuses on the money trail
and criminal intent
 Paper and Ink Specialists—date, type, source,
and/or catalogue various types of paper, watermarks,
ink, printing/copy/fax machines, computer cartridges
 Forgery Specialists—analyze altered, obliterated,
changed, or doctored documents and photos
 Typewriting Analysts—determine origin, make, and
 Computer Crime Investigators—investigate
cybercrime Kendall/Hunt Publishing Company
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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.
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Handwriting analysis involves two
 The hardware—ink, paper, pens, pencils,
typewriter, printers
 Visual examination of the writing
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Handwriting Characteristics
 12 pts. to compare between known and questioned samples
1. Line Quality—smooth or shaky
2. Word and Letter Spacing–-check distance
between letters and words
3. Letter Comparison—check height, width and
size of letters.
4. Pen Lifts and Separation —check how and where
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 words
begin and end; straight, curled, long, short, etc.
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7. Unusual Letter Formation—check for backwards letters,
letters with tails, or unusual capital letters
8. Shading or pen pressure—check for amount of pressure
used on downward and upward strokes
9. Slant—check for left, right, or no slant
10. Baseline Habits—check if it follows a straight line across
the page or moves up or down
11. Flourishes or embellishments —check for fancy letters,
little curls, loops, hearts, etc.
12. Diacritic Placement—check how the t’s are crossed or i’s
are dotted
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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
 Evaluation of the evidence, including the similarities and
dissimilarities between the “questioned” and “known”
 The document examiner must have enough exemplars to
make a determination of whether or not the two samples
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Handwriting Samples
 The subject should not be shown the
questioned document
 The subject is not told how to spell words or
use punctuation
 The subject should use materials similar to
those of the document
 The dictated text should match some parts
of the document
 The subject should be asked to sign the text
 Always have a witness
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Methods of Forgery
 There are three methods of forgery:
1. Blind forgery—made without a model
of the signature; forger uses his/her own
2. Simulated forgery—one made by
copying a genuine signature; can be
difficult to link to a suspect
3. Traced forgery—one made by tracing a
genuine signature; stereomicroscopic
examination is used to detect this.
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Types of Forgery
 Check Fraud
 Forgery
 Theft of card or number
 Counterfeit
 Art—imitation with intent to
 Alterations
 Paper Money
 Microscopic examination
 Electromagnetic radiation
 Counterfeit
 Chemical analysis
 Identity
 Social Security
 Driver’s license
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 Credit Cards
 Contracts—alterations of
contracts, medical records
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Document Alterations
 Obliterations—removal of writing by physical
or chemical means can be detected by:
 Microscopic examination—upper layer of paper
fibers is disturbed and can be seen
 UV or infrared (IR) light—optical brighteners added to
paper will appear dark in areas where the coating has
been disturbed
 Digital image processing—use of lightening,
darkening, contrast and filter tools help highlight
obliterated markings
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 Indentations—impressions left on paper
beneath the primary writing; can be detected
 Oblique lighting—will 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
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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)
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Forensic Linguist
 Experts that look at the linguistic
content (the way something is written)
of a questioned document.
 Language that is used can help to
establish the writer’s age, gender,
ethnicity, level of education,
professional training, and ideology.
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Individualizing Typing and
 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 features:
 Color printers and photocopiers often add a pattern of
tiny yellow dots to the printer, encoding the printer’s
serial number
 Trash marks made on paper by copy machines can be
used; things like gripper marks, debris, etc.
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 Most modern paper is made from wood pulp.
 Some are manufactured mechanically
 Some are treated with chemicals (stationary)
 Some have additives such as cotton fibers (bond
 Some have watermarks (design added during
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Forensic scientists may look at the following
differences to identify paper:
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Raw material
Thickness as determined using a micrometer
Fluorescence under ultraviolet light
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Chromatography is a method
of physically separating the
components of inks
 HPLC—high-performance liquid
 TLC—thin-layer chromatography
 Paper Chromatography—used for
water-based inks
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Paper Chromatography of Ink
Two samples of black
ink from two different
manufacturers have
been characterized
using paper
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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
 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.
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 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.
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 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
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More about
Document Analysis
For additional information about
document and handwriting analysis,
check out Court TV’s Crime Library at:
Or forgery cases at:
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