Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Can you compare signatures and determine whether they are genuine or forged?

Yes, we can, however it is not always possible to say conclusively something is definitely genuine or a simulation (forgery). We will offer a level of opinion, using the following scale, based on the evidence we find.

Inconclusive, moderate, moderately strong, strong, very strong, extremely strong, conclusive

How many examples of handwriting or signatures do you need?

When people write, their handwriting changes slightly from day to day and from situation to situation.  This is known as their range of variation.  We need to establish this range of variation in order to give you the best result possible, and ideally, we would require approximately twelve samples of handwriting and/or signatures either made during an individual’s everyday life or at your request.  These should be dated around the same time as the writing in dispute if possible.  We can work with less examples than this, although the examination may be limited. 

Can you date a document?

It is often not possible for us to date a document absolutely. Nevertheless, each case is individual and so we advise that you contact us to discuss your requirements. For example, we can examine the document and give an indication of the type of ink used – this type of ink may not have been available at the time the document was purportedly made.  We can also examine entries in books, and we may be able to give an indication as to whether they were written in chronological order.  We do not have the facilities to examine inks using chemical analysis or specialised lighting techniques.

I think the handwriting or signature is a forgery (simulation). Can you say who wrote it?

If handwriting or a signature is found to be a simulation (copy), normally no indication can be made of who produced it, as the fact that it is a copy of someone else’s handwriting or signature means that it is not the writers normal handwriting. However, in some circumstances, for example where there are elements of the writing being compared that are in common, for example a similar surname, some useful comparison may be possible.

I only have copies of the documents. Is this okay?

Whilst we prefer to examine original documents, we can work from good quality copies. It should be noted however, that the strength of the opinion we reach may be affected by this.

How do I send the documents to you for examination?

If you have original documents, these can be sent to us by post or courier. We advise sending them by a tracked, signed for service.  Copies of documents can be scanned and emailed to ourselves.

What is the difference between a graphologist and a handwriting expert?

Handwriting experts are scientists who are normally employed in the documents section of a forensic laboratory.

They will usually have a degree in a scientific discipline and will have undergone a significant period of training and mentoring from experienced experts in the field.

Handwriting experts are trained to compare a piece of questioned handwriting or a questioned signature with a set of specimen samples, with a view to giving an opinion on who may have written a piece of writing in question or signed a questioned document.

Most handwriting experts work to controlled procedures and their findings and statements are peer reviewed by a second expert within their organisation.

Handwriting experts will not refer to themselves as graphologists.

Graphologists are experts in the field of graphology, one definition of which is ‘the study of handwriting especially for the purpose of character analysis’.

This is VERY different from the expertise of a handwriting expert.

However, some graphologists also refer to themselves as handwriting experts.

Some graphologists may have undergone training in the comparison of questioned handwriting and signatures but this is usually cited as short training courses and is unlikely to be to the same extent as handwriting experts within a forensic laboratory.

Many graphologists work alone and this may mean that their work is not peer reviewed.

When choosing an expert – ask them about their training, whether they work to accredited procedures, if their work is peer reviewed and whether they will attend Court if necessary.

I might need you to attend court and give evidence in person – is this something you do?

All our handwriting experts are highly experienced in giving evidence in court, and understand the importance of their duties to the court.