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HANDWRITING ANALYSIS By MELCON S. LAPINA, MSCrim 4th Place Criminologists Licensure Board Examinations, October 1996, Manila

Part I: 

Part I DISCOVERY OF THE FACT melcon s. lapina

Handwriting Reduced to Strokes: 

Handwriting Reduced to Strokes There is no reason why any questioned document cannot undergo a scientific test much the same as any other laboratory tests. Graphoanalysis, the science on which this identification system is based, breaks down handwriting into two fundamental strokes – the straight stroke and the curve – and the direction in which they are written. No letters or words, as such, are considered. melcon s. lapina

Twelve Points of Comparison: 

Twelve Points of Comparison THE FIRST STEP IN ANY LEGAL handwriting examination is to observe the general appearance of the questioned writing as compared with the genuine standard writing. By this method the conspicuous characteristics are determined. It is in the breakdown of handwriting stroke by stroke that the inconspicuous characteristics are detected. melcon s. lapina By this method the conspicuous characteristics are determined. It is in the breakdown of handwriting stroke by stroke that the inconspicuous characteristics are detected. The word conspicuous means easily seen. Adding the prefix in, which signifies negative, making the word inconspicuous, it now means not easily seen.


The following method of making a scientific comparison, stroke by stroke, of a questioned writing with the genuine, places handwriting identification on the same basis as fingerprint identification. No matter in which laboratory the test is made, or by which trained technician it is made, the conclusion will hold true. melcon s. lapina No matter in which laboratory the test is made, or by which trained technician it is made, the conclusion will hold true.


Only the strokes, wherever they may occur, and in whatever formation they may appear, are weighed in their relationship to the other strokes in the writing. It is through the combination of two or more of these fundamental strokes that writing is constructed. Two curves, for example, can be put together in one way to form what is known as a loop, or they can put together in another way to form what is known as a circle. melcon s. lapina


POINT 1: UNIFORMITY Does the questioned writing have a smooth, rhythmic, free-flowing appearance? Are the strokes connected: in a smooth, rhythmic manner? melcon s. lapina Rhythm is a terminology in questioned document examination which signifies a succession of connected uniform strokes working in full coordination. Take note of the word uniform and coordination. Free-flowing implies that the writer is not hesitating in making a stroke. A word to remember in examining handwriting: No two handwritings, even of the same writer, are exactly the same, .i.e., in considering its size, height, width, space from letter to letter or from word to word, etc. If two handwritings are exactly the same, then it is a work of forgery. Therefore, in the examination, what are considered are the strokes, e.g. the manner in which they are written. Smooth means fine in texture. In questioned document examinations, the word smooth does not mean how well the writer writes the letters from copy book forms (the design of letters which is fundamental to a writing system). Rather, it is to be based on the writing of the writer. No matter how rough the writing is (based on the copy book forms), if it is genuine it should follow some forms or strokes characteristic of the writer. So that, from the perspective of the standard writing, a questioned writing to be smooth must bear characteristics of the standard writing. Observe how letter N D and, A, are written.


POINT 2: IRREGULARITIES Does the questioned writing appear awkward, ill-formed, messy, and slowly drawn, giving the look of a general lack of harmony indicating unnaturalness? Are the strokes patched, retouched? melcon s. lapina Awkward means lacking ease or grace. Messy means lacking neatness or precision. Patching is an act of going back over a defective or poorly made writing feature. This is observable under a stereoscopic microscope. Retouching is a repair work which is typically done in a bold, even in a slapdash or haphazard manner. If this is habitual, this may constitute a point of identification. Strokes containing unnecessary and often messy bold are patched or retouched, as in this writing. In the study of questioned document examinations, there is such a term as unnatural hesitations. Please consider this explanation by Albert Osborne concerning unnatural hesitations. In genuine writings, there are certain natural places for the pen to hesitate or even to stop, but in forged or fraudulent writing it is usually produced by a drawing movement that shows hesitation at any place – on upward and downward strokes, or even in the middle of what are naturally continuous strokes.


Are there small marks near the strokes? Are the strokes wavering? melcon s. lapina The significance of locating small marks near the strokes, especially if its natural presence cannot be satisfactorily explained, is that it is where the writer hesitated or paused before proceeding with the writing. If this is not the habit of the original writer, then the writing is forged. Wavering strokes will occur in the following: Aged person Illiterate person Sick person Style of writing of the person The writer is in such situations as to cause wavering stroke such as when riding a vehicle. If the reason for the wavering is not caused in any of the foregoing, then the writing is forged.


Are the connecting strokes broken? Are the circle formations made up of separate strokes? Are there pen lifts? melcon s. lapina What is a pen lift? It is an interruption in a stroke caused by removing the writing instrument from the paper.


Are there vertical strokes mixed with a forward slant? Look for individualized strokes (not a sign of forgery) for identification. melcon s. lapina


POINT 3: SIZE AND PROPORTION Habits impels us to write in the same relative proportion. A precision ruler should be used to measure the height of the overall writing, as well as the height of individual strokes, in proportion to each other.


What is the height of the overall writing? What is the height of the short letters in relationship to the tall ones? melcon s. lapina


Do the strokes diminish in size? Do they increase in size? Are they narrow in proportion as they are tall? melcon s. lapina


Are the strokes above and below the line balanced? How tall are the d and t stems in proportion to the rest of the writing? Are the strokes ill-formed? melcon s. lapina


POINT 4: ALIGNMENT The exemplar of handwriting should next be checked for its alignment with either a ruled line upon which it is written, or an imaginary baseline. Irregularities in alignment may be imperceptible until measured systematically with a precision ruler. melcon s. lapina


Do the strokes follow straight along the baseline? Do the letter strokes leave the baseline? Do the word strokes leave the baseline? melcon s. lapina


Do the sentence formation create a convex or concave baseline? Do the sentence formations consistently run uphill? Consistently run downhill? melcon s. lapina


Or form converging “railroad track?” melcon s. lapina


POINT 5: SPACING A careful observation of the general spacing of the writing on a page should be made, and the width of margins determined. Paragraph indentations should be measured, as well as both the space between lines and the space between individual stroke formations. melcon s. lapina


Is the left margin essentially even? Is it jogged? melcon s. lapina


Do the strokes hit the margin at an oblique angle? melcon s. lapina


How much space is there between capitals and small letters? melcon s. lapina


Between separate capitals? Between word formations? melcon s. lapina


In connecting strokes? Proportion of space breaks between letters melcon s. lapina


POINT 6: DEGREE OF SLANT melcon s. lapina


An inexpensive, transparent plastic chart formerly used by Graphoanalysts for measuring the slant of a handwriting is particularly suitable for the measuring of slant in questioned document work. The chart was designed after years of research, and it’s more expedient in determining the slant of a handwriting than adapting ordinary measuring devices, such as a 90 degree protractor, to the upstrokes of a handwriting. melcon s. lapina


A chart can be made by placing a small piece of heavy plastic or glass over the illustration shown in the preceding slide, and tracing it with India ink. In the use of the chart, only the upstrokes of a handwriting are measured. A forger who attempts to disguise his writing by changing the slant in the predominant upstrokes, but will have a difficult time in controlling the less dominant strokes of the lower case letters. melcon s. lapina


A systematic comparison of the slant of the questioned writing should be made with that of the genuine writing. It is to be noted that a handwriting may not necessarily have a consistent slant. In this case, which is known as a variable slant, the forged writing can be just as easily detected by the proportion of variable strokes in each of the exemplars. melcon s. lapina


POINT 7: WEIGHT OF STROKES Strokes in a handwriting may consist of very fine lines, medium, or thick lines. Any straight edge ruler designed for precision measurement may be used to gauge the width of a stroke. Again, a variable width may be encountered, but this, too, will give away the forger when the two handwritings are compared by the proportion of the variable widths of strokes. melcon s. lapina


POINT 8: T-BARS & I-DOTS One of the most telltale strokes which will give away the forger is the t-crossing; another is the i-dot. No matter how careful the imitator may be, he will have a hard time not leaving his own characteristics behind in making these strokes. In the mechanical comparison between a purported forged writing and the genuine, the following earmarks should be determined in regard to the crossbar, in relation to the rest of the strokes in the writing: melcon s. lapina


Is it light in weight? Is it heavy in weight Is it short in relationship to the stem Is it long in relationship to the stem? melcon s. lapina


Where is it located on the stem? Is it on the left of the stem? melcon s. lapina


Is it on the right of the stem? Is it convex? Is it concave? melcon s. lapina


Does it fade? Remain constant? Grow heavier? Does it slant toward the baseline? melcon s. lapina


Does it slant away from the baseline? Does it have an initial hook? Does it have a terminal hook? melcon s. lapina


Is the stem uncrossed? Is it tied? Similar observations should be noted in regard to the i-dots (and j-dots). melcon s. lapina


Is it light? Is it firm? Where is it located above the stem? melcon s. lapina


Is it on the left of the stem? Is it on the right of the stem? Is it a small circle made clockwise? melcon s. lapina


Is it a small circle made clockwise? Is it a jab? melcon s. lapina


Note: Since a combination of more than one type of the foregoing illustrated strokes is commonly found in any one handwriting, a mathematical count of each type of stroke must be made before a comparison can be undertaken. melcon s. lapina


POINT 9: THE NEEDLE, THE WEDGE, THE ROUND, THE FLAT A handwriting should be examined to determine if it is primarily composed of sharp, needle-like strokes; wedge-shaped strokes; rounded strokes; flattop strokes; or a combination of two or more of these types of strokes. melcon s. lapina


A careful examination of the strokes which form the m’s, n’s and r’s in any one handwriting will disclose a consistent formation of one or more of the above types. In a case where more than one type of formation is used, the proportion will be constant and can be measured mathematically. melcon s. lapina


The needle The wedge The rounded or curved The flattop or square A combination of the above melcon s. lapina


POINT 10: LOOPS Curved strokes, combined to form what is known as a loop, may occur below the baseline of the writing, or above the baseline. These are checked in relation to the rest of the writing for the following: melcon s. lapina


Are they long? Are they short? Are they broad? melcon s. lapina


Are they narrow? Are they needle-like? melcon s. lapina


Wedge-shaped? Rounded? melcon s. lapina


Flat or squared off? Do the loops of one line run into the lines above or below it? melcon s. lapina


Do the loops start above the baseline? Are there loops where they do not occur in the copy book? melcon s. lapina


Are the loops made clockwise or counterclockwise? Are the loops unfinished? Tied around a stem? melcon s. lapina


Is there an initial loop within a circle formation? Is there a final loop within a circle formation? Are there double loops within a circle formation? melcon s. lapina


Absence of Loops Handwriting should be checked for the characteristic of making straight strokes in the place of where loops would ordinarily occur in the copy book. melcon s. lapina


Above the line Below the line melcon s. lapina


POINT 11: CIRCLE FORMATIONS A single curved line occurring at the baseline is known as a circle formation. Are the circle formations open? Closed? melcon s. lapina


Are they broad? Narrow? Filled in with ink? melcon s. lapina


POINT 12: INITIAL AND FINAL STROKES Perhaps the most inconspicuous characteristics, and those the most difficult for the forger to duplicate, are found in the initial and final strokes of a handwriting. A systematic comparison of each of these strokes will give the examiner revealing evidence. melcon s. lapina

Initial Strokes: 

Initial Strokes Do the initial strokes begin with a large hook, a fishhook, or an almost imperceptible hook? With a flourish? Flat or squared off? melcon s. lapina


With an inflexible upstroke from the baseline? With a flexible upstroke from the baseline? Start part way up the staff? Start below the baseline? melcon s. lapina


With a simple, direct downstroke? With a “running start?” Heavy in proportion to the rest of the strokes? melcon s. lapina


Light in proportion to the rest of the strokes? Final Strokes Do the final strokes end with a large hook, a fishhook, or an almost imperceptible hook? melcon s. lapina


With a flourish? Abruptly at the baseline? melcon s. lapina


With an flexible forward stroke? With an inflexible forward stroke? Above the baseline? melcon s. lapina


melcon s. lapina Below the baseline? Do they fade?


Grow heavier? End in a blob? Are they patched? melcon s. lapina

Conclusion : 

Conclusion The principle underlying the identification of a handwriting is the same as that of any other thing which has a great number of possible variations. The identity or difference is made by a systematic comparison of all the elements (in handwriting, the strokes) which all together make up the conclusion. It is the combination of measurements and characteristics that help to identify a handwriting – a combination mathematically beyond mere chance. melcon s. lapina


There are so many possible combinations of strokes that it would be impossible to discuss all of them here. But it is to be remembered that all strokes are to be handled in the same manner – whether the strokes appear in a printed writing, a combination of printing and cursive writing, or in strike outs. melcon s. lapina

Summary : 

Summary Summed up, there are twelve points of comparison in handwriting identification just as there are twelve points of comparison in fingerprint identification. melcon s. lapina


Twelve Points of Comparison melcon s. lapina Uniformity Irregularities Size and proportion Alignment Spacing Degree of slant Weight of strokes t-bars and i-dots The needle, the wedge, the round, the flat Loops Circle formations Initial and final strokes

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