Handwriting Examination

A piece of handwriting in question is compared with known writing of one or more individuals to attempt to determine whether or not the same writer could be responsible.

The examination involves a detailed assessment of the characteristics of the handwriting and assessment of the significance of the similarities and differences between the writings. This includes observing the style, size, proportions, spacing, fluency of the writings, together with detailed examination of the individual character shapes, proportions, construction and connections between characters.

An opinion regarding authorship will be expressed using the Range of Opinions shown in the FAQs. The strength of the opinion will depend on a number of factors including the quality of the documents, the nature and distinctiveness of the handwriting, the amount of writing present and the suitability of the specimen handwriting available.  

Examination of photocopied/scanned documents

These will not contain all of the detail present in the original documents and whilst an examination may be possible, it may be that any opinion regarding authorship is not conclusive. You are welcome to email copies of the documents for an initial assessment and I can advise whether they are of a sufficient quality for a reliable examination.

Factors affecting handwriting

Handwriting can be affected by a number of factors including health, age, intoxication, fatigue and therefore it is essential for me to know whether any of these are relevant to the individuals concerned.

Handwriting specimens

In order to carry out an effective comparison, I require suitable specimen handwriting - this will be examples of writing from any individual you wish to identify or exclude as having written the document in question. These documents can include a mixture of originals and copies.

A handwriting comparison can only be carried out with like-for-like material. That is, cursive (joined up) writing can only be compared with other cursive writing, whilst block capital writing is only comparable with other examples of block capitals.

Ideally specimens must have been written on different occasions so that the variation within the individual's writing can be assessed. It is also useful if they are contemporaneous with the document in question (written at the same time). If not, it would be useful to see examples from before AND after the date of the document in question. Handwriting from 30 years ago is not the ideal specimen for comparison with a document written recently.

In the case of joint instructions it is desirable that all parties involved agree the authorship of any documents submitted for use as specimens.

Examples of suitable documents might include notebooks, address books, letters, diaries, greetings cards, cheques, business documents, loan applications, council tax forms and banking documents.

Examples of documents that could contain disputed handwriting

Loan Agreement

Handwritten receipt

Mortgage application

Anonymous letter

Some types of graffiti

Application form

Cheques

Business forms

HANDWRITING SPECIMENS: Quick Guide

  • Same style (joined up or capitals)

  • Several examples

  • Written on different occasions, preferably similar documents

  • Need to to be contemporaneous, or pre and post-date the document in question

  • Can be on both original and copy documents

© 2020 Elisabeth Briggs