HANDWRITING IDENTIFICATION FACTS AND FUNDAMENTALS
Each person has distinctive handwriting traits which distinguish themselves from every other writer. Handwriting identification principles help establish a baseline for analysis. There are two basic principles that document examiners or handwriting experts follow:
- No two people write exactly alike in an extended writing sample.
- No one can duplicate anything that they have written.
Writing is a learned habit practiced for many years. Graphic maturity is reached between the ages of 18 and 24 in most individuals. Graphic maturity is when an individual no longer concentrates on how to write letter forms when writing. They write with their focus on content, not letter formation. Think about it for a moment. Write any random sentence. Are you writing with a concentration on each letter in each word and how to write them or are you more focused on writing the content of your sentence?
For the most part, writing is habitual. It is your brain writing. Your brain tells the muscles in your arm, wrist and fingers to move in specific combinations of contracting and expanding in order to complete specific letters. This is called motor control. There are a lot of elements that go into writing. Once your brain has mastered the act of writing you no longer focus your attention on how to do it – it becomes almost automatic like breathing. For example, you can focus your attention on breathing and force changes in your breathing pattern, however you can’t concentrate on that act the entire day. Eventually you get distracted and your body takes over. You don’t just stop breathing because your attention focused on something else.
Some of the characteristics that handwriting experts look at are line quality, pressure patterns, slant, proportions of letters, methods of construction, connecting strokes, and natural variation to name a few. These characteristics and others not listed contribute to something called a master pattern. The stroke formations are the primary focus and it is not limited to just letter formations. Document examiners can make identifications using numbers as well.
The reason why you will encounter document examiners requesting 20-25 known, authentic samples of writing is because they need to establish a range of natural variation within the master pattern. We are, after all, human beings and we do not write with machine-like precision every time. Of course there are exceptions to every rule. There are occasions where you may not even need
The sample of signatures below were signed by the same person. None of the signatures can be overlaid perfectly over the other. This is due to natural variation. I call your attention to the ‘a’ in Konrad. Notice how most of the ovals are discernible, but some are retraced.
SAMPLE OF NATURAL VARIATION USED FOR HANDWRITING IDENTIFICATION