I have copied a curriculum for forensics in handwriting that is available by David A. Katz in bold, pt. 14, Calibri body while making my notation in regular, pt.11, Times New Roman to make my points. Nanette Barto
Here is an article written by a Professor, of forensics since 1993, on handwriting examination. I thought that it would be really interesting to pit his recommendations for handwriting procedures against my procedures on this case, and to include the huge fallacy "highly probably or strong probability" that weighs the need for originals in order to make an identification, or a qualified opinion that must be used. Nanette Barto
© 2005, 2004, 2002, 1993 by David A. Katz. All rights reserved.
Handwriting is unique to each individual. Although some peoples’ handwriting may have similar styles and characteristics in common, acquired when these people learned to write by copying letters and words, they tend to take on individual styles with age. Also, as a person ages, their handwriting will show additional changes.
Generally, one cannot determine the age or sex of a suspect or whether they are left-handed or right-handed from a normal writing sample. Certain types of flourishes and embellishments in writing styles and detailed examination of an original document my give hints at some of some of these characteristics.
(I had indicated as stated by the ASTM guidelines, that handedness is not a characteristic that is easily detected and is not a necessity when making an identification. Nanette Barto)
In handwriting analysis, one should look for similarities in the shapes, styles, alignment, and spacing of letters.
Documents to be examined
There are no safety hazards with this procedure.
Never work with original documents. Always make copies to work with.
(I understand preservation of the evidence, and fully agree with the above statement. So, here is my plight. If the only reason to examine the original is for pen pressure and clarity of stroke direction, and then everything else is determined from a copy, then I have done exactly that. With no need to determine pen pressure – due to type of instrument used, and no need to determine stroke direction – due to the writing being in print and a copy would not conceal stroke directions, then all that is necessary to make a determination/identification on the handwriting is copies of the questioned documents and independent handwriting samples. I have both in this case seeing that you are instructed to conduct your exam from a copy to begin with.) P.S. a copy is sufficient, but a high resolution scan is bliss…. Many of these documents are just that, whether b/w or color. Nanette Barto
Original documents must be maintained for evidence. Handle original documents as little as possible. Keep them protected in archival sleeves or folders. Any testing for fingerprints must be done after the handwriting and document analysis.
When requesting writings by a subject, they should be given voluntarily. Dictate the text, never show the subject the original document. Make sure that the subject is comfortable and is using the same type of paper and writing instrument. If other samples of the suspect’s handwriting are available use them for additional comparison.
(All samples from Jack Tarrance are independent from the Zodiac case, so are to be considered natural handwriting within natural variation. Nanette Barto)
Characteristics of Handwriting:
1. Examine the spacing between letters and words. Use a ruler to measure typical spacing.
(The spacing is absolutely consistent and has been proven in an Excel presentation that I will put up here soon, or can be found on my Photobucket site)
2. Examine the relative height, width, and size of letters. Use a ruler to measure these for comparison.
(This has also been established in the PowerPoint presentation)
3. Examine pen lifts and separations. Some letters and combinations will be continuous while others may not be connected. Look at the beginning and ending strokes of words and letters and any connecting strokes.
(Not applicable due to the lack of connectedness with the exception of one word “with” by Zodiac, and this construction was identical to Jack Tarrance’s found in the Excel Spreadsheet of spacing and abbreviations. I will be putting this up soon.) Nanette Barto
4. Are there any unusual letter formations such as loops and curls or a mixture of cursive and printing of letters?
(Loops found in the “o”, four strokes found in the “n”, the tick mark that exits the stem of the “d”, these are all similar letter formations found between Zodiac and Jack Tarrance.) Nanette Barto
5. Is there any shading of letters due to uneven pressure applied in writing?
N/A – Nanette Barto
6. Examine the slant of the letters. Do they slant left, right, or not at all? Are the slants consistent throughout the writing sample? Measure the angles of slant using a protractor.
(Slant is an identical right to hard right slant that is consistently seen in both the Zodiac and Jack Tarrance writings.) Nanette Barto
7. Examine the baseline habits. Are the words and letters on the baseline or are they above and below. A ruler will be helpful in determining this.
(N/A – There is normally unlined paper found in the Zodiac case) Nanette Barto
8. Look for flourishes and embellishments. Using small circles to dot i’s or for periods, loops on capital letters or ending letters, etc. Are there any unusual letter formations?
(This section is supported in both Zodiac and Jack Tarrance writings and can be found in the PowerPoint presentation on Youtube or Photobucket.) Nanette Barto
9. Look at the placement of diacritics. Are the i’s dotted and t’s crossed? Individuals tend to dot i’s and cross t’s in unique fashions.
(Actually, there are no diacritics in the English language as the i dot and t bars if removed do not change the sound the letter makes as it does with a French or other foreign letter/phonemes, so I believe that this is N/A; however, if we are to consider i dots and t bars to be diacritics depending on how they are executed then we have these similarities in common between Zodiac and Jack Tarrance as well.) Nanette Barto
Characteristics of Forged Documents:
Writing in forged documents tends to be slowly written and will show a lack of individuality.
(This statement is one of the reason I rule out the necessity for the originals in order to determine speed and fluidity. It is common knowledge that much of the Zodiac’s writing is disguised handwriting thus being slowly written with no individuality means no fluidity or speed.) Nanette Barto
Letters tend to have an unnatural appearance as if the forger was drawing the letters. This makes letters inconsistent in the document, shows unnatural starts and stops and a general lack of rhythm to the writing. Any mistakes will show a careful correction. Signatures will be identical.
If a suspect attempts to disguise their writing, they will generally exhibit inconsistent slant and letter formations with a major change in the size of their letters. Capital letters will be different and they often will use block lettering. As they write, there will be a lack of rhythm, irregular spacing, and unnatural starts and stops. Occasionally they will add excessive ornamentation. Some individuals will try to write with the wrong hand.
(This is very apparent in the writing of the Zodiac as shown in the PowerPoint presentation found on Youtube or Photobucket. There is a huge variation in the form indicating that it is not the natural writing of the author. For this reason, I have put these letters together in a display to help show what appears to be more disguised than natural for an easier identification of the true versus disguised writing.) Nanette Barto
If an independent writing sample is available, it should be used for comparison.
(We have over a hundred independent handwriting samples of Jack Tarrance and more than fulfill this requirement for natural handwriting.) Nanette Barto
In addition to normal handwriting analysis, as discussed previously, methods can be used to detect handwriting, even when the writing has been obliterated. For example, using infrared film or infrared microscopy, some obliterated writing can be deciphered.
Bleaching ink on a document is a method that can be used to alter it, as in the bank check shown below. Ultraviolet light can be used to detect this if the paper, ink, or bleach has any fluorescent properties.
Analysis of papers can also be used to compare documents, such as a ransom note. Papers can be compared to those in a home or business to ascertain the source and, in some cases, the manufacturer. The following chart shows the elemental analysis of different colored papers.
The entire article can be found at: http://www.chymist.com/HANDWRITING%20ANALYSIS.pdf
There are exercises and handwriting samples to describe the areas that are spoken about in this post for an easy reference to the meanings if you are a lay person, or if you would like to try your hand at handwriting examination. Nanette Barto