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Document Analysis. Document analysis. Write the following: A guy is driving around the back woods of Montana and he sees a sign in front of a broken down shanty-style house: ‘Talking Dog For Sale.’ He rings the bell and the owner appears and tells him the dog is in the backyard.

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Document analysis1
Document analysis

Write the following:

  • A guy is driving around the back woods of Montana and he sees a sign in front of a broken down shanty-style house: ‘Talking Dog For Sale.’ He rings the bell and the owner appears and tells him the dog is in the backyard.

  • The Lab looks up and says, ‘Well, I discovered that I could talk when I was pretty young. I wanted to help the government, so I told the CIA.

  • In no time at all they had me jetting from country to country, sitting in rooms with spies and world leaders, because no one figured a dog would be eavesdropping.’

Document analysis2
Document Analysis

  • The examination of questioned documents with known material for a variety of purposes; such as authenticity, alterations, erasures, obliterations.


  • One of the first important uses was in the case of the kidnapping and murder of Charles Lindbergh’s young son (1927).

  • 1999: officially accepted as uniquely identifying by the US Court of Appeals

I document examiner
I. Document Examiner

  • Role of the document examiner

    • Identifies efforts to obscure or alter original contents of writings/typewritten material

    • May recover original contents of writings or typewritten material

    • Evaluates authenticity of

      questioned documents

I document examiner cont d
I. Document Examiner cont’d

B. Questioned document

  • Any object that contains handwritten or typewritten markings whose source or authenticity is in doubt

  • Examples: letters, checks, contracts, wills

    C. Collect Known Writings (Exemplars)

  • Uniqueness of handwriting makes this type of physical evidence almost like a fingerprint; a definitive physical characteristic

Ii handwriting comparisons
II. Handwriting comparisons

A. General Style

  • Education guides early handwriting development. In the US, two major styles taught:

    1. Palmer method (1880)

Ii handwriting comparisons cont d
II. Handwriting comparisons cont’d

2. Zaner-Bloser method (1885)

Ii handwriting comparisons cont d1
II. Handwriting comparisons cont’d

B. Variations in handwriting

  • Combination of mechanical, physical, and mental functions

  • no single characteristic can be the basis of a positive comparison

Ii handwriting comparisons cont d2
II. Handwriting comparisons cont’d

C. Major categories of handwriting analysis

  • Letter form

  • Line form

  • Formatting

12 points of comparison
12 Points of Comparison

  • Line quality

  • Spacing of words and letters

  • Relative height, width, and size of letters

  • Pen lifts, separations

  • Connecting strokes

  • Beginning and ending strokes

  • Unusual letter formation

  • Shading or pen pressure

  • Slant of letters

  • Baseline habits

  • Flourishes or embellishments

  • Placement of diacritics

Ii handwriting comparisons cont d3
II. Handwriting comparisons cont’d

D. Collection of exemplars

1. Known writings should be as similar as possible to the questioned document.

a. writing implement, paper or other

b. similar words and letter combinations c. enough exemplars to establish natural variations

d. age of exemplars (+/- 2 years)

Ii handwriting comparisons cont d4
II. Handwriting comparisons cont’d

2. Minimize deception

  • Require several pages of writing (dictation)

  • Content similar to questioned document

  • Use same writing implement and medium

    3. Physical evidence

  • Handwriting specimens are considered physical evidence; not protected by 5th amendment

  • Taking handwriting samples does not violate 4th amendment

Iii paper and ink comparisons
III. Paper and Ink comparisons

A. Compare Ink

  • “Tagged” ink (rare Earth Metals)

    • Analyzed by Microspectrophotometer, Chromatography: TLC, HPLC

    • Since 1970

  • Ink dating (since 1968; accurate to within 6 months)

  • Dye ratio

Iii paper and ink comparisons1
III. Paper and Ink comparisons

B. Compare paper

  • Fiber identification: characterization of additives, fillers, and pigments

  • Characterization: appearance, color, weight, watermarks

Iv typewritten comparisons
IV. Typewritten Comparisons

A. Photocopier, Fax, Printer; Type-writers

1. Photocopiers

  • Transitory patterns

    2. Fax machines

  • Header called TTI (transmitting terminal identifier);

    3. Computer Printer

  • Printer model technology determination and ink type

    are most important

  • Categorized as impact (thermal dot-matrix) and

    non-impact (laser, ink-jet) application of toner

    4. Type-writers

V alterations erasures obliterations
V. Alterations, Erasures, Obliterations

A. Alterations

  • Erasure is most common

    (rubber eraser, sand paper)

  • razor blade, knife

  • In all cases, upper fibers of paper

    are disturbed

    (apparent under microscope)

V alterations erasures obliterations1
V. Alterations, Erasures, Obliterations

B. Obliterations

  • Use of chemicals most common (bleach, or other strong oxidizing agents)

  • Writings can be recovered by use of microscope or UV light

V alterations erasures obliterations2
V. Alterations, Erasures, Obliterations

  • IR luminescence can show different inks or residue remaining after erasure

Vi technology
VI. Technology

Biometric pad

Computerized analysis (FISH)

Forensic Information System for Handwriting