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Handwriting Science

Boy writingHandwriting is a complex learned motor behavior that generally develops in three stages:

1. Formative Stage

During this stage, handwriting development begins, letter designs are being developed and writing skills are being mastered.

2. Impressionable Stage:

Girl writingDuring the second stage, writing skills are mastered, but the writing characteristics are still being developed. During this stage it is common for the writer to be influenced by some other source such as a parent or role model. The writer will try and imitate someone else’s writing and as a result, the changes that occur may be quite pronounced in form depending on the source of the influence responsible for the change.

3. Mature Stage:

Woman writingThis is the stage in which graphic maturity is finally reached and the writing has become habitual in execution. The unique individual writing characteristics are present and will remain relatively constant throughout much of the writer’s life.

Because handwriting is habit-formed, once graphic maturity is reached a person’s writing becomes relatively stable and individual characteristics, unique to the writer, become important identifying features. It is the individual writing features that forensic document examiners rely on when identifying the author of a sample of questioned writing.

The following is a partial list of the principles that underlie writing identification:

1. No two people write exactly alike.

2. Each person has unique handwriting features which distinguish his or her writing from every other writer.

3. Because people are not machines, their handwriting has some degree of variation which prevents them from writing the exact same way twice.

4. No person can reproduce all of the unique writing habits of another individual in an extended writing sample.

5. A person’s handwriting can be influenced by numerous intrinsic and extrinsic factors such as age, health, injury, mental states, medications, drugs and alcohol, writing instrument used, writing surface, and environmental factors.

To learn more about the science of handwriting, please give Roy a call at (307) 399-5532, or send him an email to


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