HANDWRITING AND DOCUMENT
NATIONAL LAW UNIVERSITY, JODHPUR
HANDWRITING AND DOCUMENT ANALYSIS
1. Historical dating—the verification of age and value of a document or object
2. Fraud investigation—focuses on the money trail and criminal intent
3. Paper and ink specialists—date, type, source, and/or catalog various types of
paper, watermarks, ink, printing/copy/fax machines, computer cartridges
4. Forgery specialists—analyze altered, obliterated, changed, or doctored
documents and photos
5. Typewriting analysts—determine origin, make, and model
6. Computer crime investigators—investigate cybercrime
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 document.
• A questioned document is one in which a document in its entirety, or in part, is
subject to question as to authenticity and/or origin.
• Any signature, handwriting, typewriting, or other marks whose source or
authenticity is in dispute or is doubtful.
Some Typical Document Examination Questions
• Is the signature genuine?
• Is the document forged, and if so is it forged by a particular person?
• Is the same person the author of several documents?
• Did someone guide a person's hand as a will was signed?
• Did the doctor come back later and alter the medical records?
• Did the signer of the document also initial the changes?
• What is written under the crossed out portion of the writing?
• Was the document written on the date indicated?
• Are there erasures on the document?
• Are there alterations or obliterations on the document?
• What was originally written before the alteration or under the obliteration?
• Are there perforations, folds, staple holes, or other physical clues on the
• Was the entire document rewritten, or was it prepared sequentially, over a period
Types of Examinations
• Handwriting Comparisons
• Ink Examinations
• Indented Writing
• Paper Analysis
• Photocopy Analysis
• And other related sections
Handwriting analysis involves two phases:
1. The hardware—ink, paper, pens, pencils, typewriter, printers, photocopies
2. Visual examination of the writing
Investigations include verification; authentication; characterizing papers,
pigments, and inks. Examples include letters, checks, licenses, contracts, wills,
1. Line quality
2. Word and letter spacing
3. Letter comparison
4. Pen lifts
5. Connecting strokes
6. Beginning and ending strokes
7. Unusual letter formation
8. Shading or pen pressure
10. Baseline habits
11. Flourishes or embellishments
12. Diacritic placement
Handwriting: Individual or Class evidence?
1. Class Characteristics:
– Features and dimensions of letters.
– Connection of letters to each other
1. Individual Characteristics:
– Unique features of letters.
– Is the letter “O” open or closed
– Is the “n”written with a pointed tip
**Handwriting samples change about every seven years**
Basic Characteristics For Comparing Handwriting
1. Overall Form
– The size, shape, slant, and strokes of
1. Line Features
– Writing speed, pen pressure, spacing
between letters and words and how
the letters are connected.
1. Margins and Format
– Grammar, punctuation and word
1. Analysis of the known writing with a determination of the characteristics
found in the known
2. Analysis of the questioned or unknown writing and determination of its
3. Comparison of the questioned writing with the known writing
4. Evaluation of the evidence, including the similarities and dissimilarities
between the questioned and known writing
5. The document examiner must have enough exemplars to make a
determination of whether or not the two samples match.
• The speed of a writer is a key indicator for QDE in the examination process.
• Fast and slow speeds are difficult to duplicate leaving behind inconsistencies in the
1. The subject should not be shown the questioned document.
2. The subject is not told how to spell words or use punctuation.
3. The subject should use materials similar to those of the document.
4. The dictated text should match some parts of the document.
5. The subject should be asked to sign the text.
6. Always have a witness.
Methods of Forgery
1. Simulated forgery—one made by copying a genuine signature
2. Traced forgery—one made by tracing a genuine signature
3. Blind forgery—one made without a model of the signature
4. Free Hand Forgery - forgeries are written with no knowledge of the appearance
of the original.
5. Lifted Forgery - in which tape is used to lift off a signature, then place it on
Types of Forgery
1. Check fraud – Forgery / Counterfeit / Alterations
2. Paper money - Counterfeit
3. Identity - Social Security / Driver’s license
4. Credit cards - Theft of card or number
5. Art—imitation with intent to deceive
– Microscopic examination
– Electromagnetic radiation
– Chemical analysis
1. Contracts—alterations of contracts, medical records
1. Obliterations—removal of writing by physical or
chemical means can be detected by:
– Microscopic examination
– UV or infrared (IR) light
– Digital image processing
1. Indentations can be detected by:
– Oblique lighting
– Electrostatic detection apparatus (ESDA)
1. Expert who looks at the linguistic
content (the way something is
written) of a questioned document
2. Language that is used can help to
establish the writer’s age, gender,
ethnicity, level of education,
professional training, and ideology.
Ink / Ink Analysis
1. Chromatography is a method of
physically separating the
components of inks.
– HPLC—high-performance liquid
– TLC—thin-layer chromatography
– Paper Chromatography
Paper Chromatography of Ink
Two samples of black ink from two different manufacturers have been characterized
using paper chromatography.
1. Raw material
9. Paper Properties like Burst,
Fold, Tear, Opacity
10. Fibre Used
2. 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
1. Class characteristics may include:
1. general types of pens
2. Individual characteristics may
1. unique, individual handwriting
2. trash marks from copiers
3. printer serial numbers.
Copying and Printing Devices
• In a photocopier, the original document is placed on the glass plate, and then it is
exposed by use of reflected light to a drum that is covered with a photosensitive
material. The image of that document exists on the drum as an invisible positive
photoelectric charge. Negatively charged toner, the messy black powdery stuff, is
drizzled onto the drum, where it sticks to only the positively charged areas. Paper,
with a positive charge, passes the drum, causing the negatively charged toner to
transfer to the paper. The toner is then heat sealed to the paper, creating the
• With a laser printer, the image of the original document (held by the computer in
its memory) is written to the photosensitive drum by use of a laser. With a laser
printer, the image of the original document (held by the computer in its memory)
is written to the photosensitive drum by use of a laser.
• The paper itself can yield many clues. Look for marks from the belts, pinchers,
rollers and gears that physically move the paper through a machine. These
examinations would be similar to tool-mark examinations.
• Counterfeit is an imitation that is
made with an intent of fraudulently
passing something off as real or
• The most common items that are
counterfeited are documents,
currency, clothing, software,
pharmaceuticals, electronics, and
• Counterfeit currency is currency
produced without the legal sanction
of the state or government to
resemble the official currency. The
production of counterfeit money is
a form of fraud.
Counterfeiting: First Line Inspection Techniques
• Varied Density Watermarks - Thin watermarks can be applied to the paper of
banknotes due to the varied density. Watermarks are visible when a bright light
shines on the back of a banknote. The varied paper densities causes the light to
intensify resulting in the watermark to appear on the other side.
• Ultraviolet Fluorescence - Embedding fluorescent fibers or printing ultra-violet ink
on paper creates an optical verification for easy on-the-spot detection. Exposing
the paper to an ultra-violet light results in the embedded pattern becoming visible.
• Intaglio Printing - The banknote undergoes a high-pressure printing process
strengthens and slightly raises the paper structure. A latent image can be
produced by using different alignments of the lines. The appearance should
changed based on the angle that the note is viewed.
• Microtext - Banknotes commonly have small text printed at high resolutions. This
resolution cannot be achieved by a commercial copier, scanner, or printer. When a
forgery attempt is made, the small text becomes blurred because of the change in
resolution. This ultimately proves a banknote is counterfeited.
• Second Line Inspection Methods - a detection of counterfeit that can not be
verified by the naked eye and requires an extra device for detection.
Counterfeiting: Second Line Inspection Techniques
• Isocheck/Isogram - This method relies on a certain pattern of dots or lines to
cause a specific type of pattern when printed or scanned. The hidden verification
proves the authenticity of the note.
• Fiber-Based Certificates of Authenticity - Using a scanner to illuminate one end of
the embedded fiber, the other corresponding end will illuminate. Once
illuminated, a fiber string can be identified. This string can be converted into a bit
string and combined with other data and a cryptographic hash of itself and is
signed using a private key. This can be encoded onto the banknote in the form of a
bar code or verification number.
• Color and Feature Analysis - New image-processing software's include secret
detection algorithm to prevent banknotes from being altered.
Equipment Used In Document Analysis
Electro Static Detection Apparatus
• An Electro Static Detection Apparatus is
used to visualize indentations by
applying an electrostatic charge to a
transparent film. The film is laid across
the page in question and once the
charge has been applied, black toner is
passed across the film and reveals any
indentations. This method can also
determine if something has been added
to a journal or log after the original
entry was made.
• This non-destructive test readily permits
the fast and routine examination of all
Video Spectral Comparator
• A Video Spectral Comparator is used
to analyze inks and see whether they
are the same or different. This is
done by looking at them under
different lighting conditions where
some wavelengths of light are
blocked. This technique can uncover
layers in documents where words
have been scribbled out or written
• Light source for document
examinations and verification of
Equipment Used In Document Analysis
• Infrared Reflectance is used to show
the residue of pencil marks. This can
be done clearly even if the writing
has been erased. Pencils are made of
graphite which is a form of carbon –
and this absorbs infrared light well
Equipment Used In Document Analysis