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Many graphologists work alone and this may mean that their work is not peer reviewed.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