Questioned Documents Definition of Terms
Alignment defect - characters that write improperly in the following respect: a twisted letter, horizontal misalignment, vertical misalignment, or a character "off its feet" these defects can be corrected by special adjustments to the type bar and type block of a type bar machine.
Allograph - a writing or signature made by one person for another or a style (block capital, print script, or cursive form) of one of the 26 graphemes of the English alphabet or of the ligatures or other symbols that accompany it.
Altered document - a document that contains a change either as an addition or a deletion.
Ample letter - that which encompasses more than the standard inner space in a given letter.Characterized by fulsomeness and expanded ovals and loops.
Archive - collection of documents and records purposely stored for a defined period of time.
Assisted writing - the result of a guided hand, produced by the cooperation of the two minds and two hands of two persons.
Ball point pen - a writing instrument having as its marking tip a small, freely rotating ball bearing that rolls the ink into the paper.Many of these pens use highly viscous, non aqueous ink but in recent years construction of some pens have been adopted to use water-based inks.
Baseline - the ruled or imaginary line upon which the writing rests.
Big Floyd - the FBI super computer that contains software allowing it to search criminal records and draw conclusions from the available information in the hunt for those responsible for an individual crime.
Bindle paper - clean paper folded used to contain trace evidence, sometimes included as part of the packaging for collecting trace evidence.Most of the time, white paper is used and has the consistency of butcher paper, the paper used in deli markets.
Bitmap - a mosaic of dots or pixels defining an image, including dot matrix imprints.The smoothness of the image contour depends upon the fineness of resolution and the number of dots or pixels per inch.
Blobbing - the accumulation of ink on the exterior of the point assembly of a ball-point pen that drops intermittently to the surface being written upon.
Blunt ending - the effect produce on commencement and terminal strokes of letters, both upper and lower case, by the application of the writing instrument to the paper prior to the beginning of any horizontal movement.
Boat - a dish-shape figure consisting of a concave stroke and a straight line sometimes forming the base of letters.
Body - that portion of a letter, the central part that remains when the upper and lower projections, the terminal and initial strokes and diacritics are omitted.
Boustrophedun - writing in which alternate lines are written in opposite directions and even have the posture as well as the direction of reversal letters.
Bow - a vertical curve stroke as in capitals D and C.
Braille - a system of representing letter, numerals etc. by raised dots that a visually impaired person can read by touch.
Burring - a division of a written line into two or more, more or less equal portions by a non-linked area generally running parallel to the direction of line generation but moving away from the radius of a curving stroke.Sometimes referred to as splitting.
Carbon copy - a copy of a typewritten document made by means of carbon paper.An exact replica;duplicate.
Carbon ink - (India ink) one of the oldest form of writing ink commonly referred to as India ink even though the ink was first used in China.In its simplest form carbon ink consists of amorphous carbon shaped into a solid cake with glue.It is converted into a liquid for writing by grinding the cake and suspending the articles in a water-glue medium.Occasionally,a pigmented dye is added to improve the color.
Case file - a collection of documents comprising information concerning a particular investigation.
Case records - all notes, reports, custody records, charts, analytical data, and any correspondence generated in the laboratory pertaining to a particular case.
Character - any typed or handwritten mark, sign or insignia, abbreviation, punctuation mark, letter, or numeral whether legible, blurred or indistinct.
Charred document - a document that has become blackened and brittle through burning or through exposure to excessive heat.
Class characteristics - not all characteristics encountered in document examination are peculiar to single person or thing and one that is common to a group may be described as a class characteristic.Traits that define a group of items collectively.
Clogged (dirty) typeface - over prolonged use, the typeface becomes filled with lint, dirt, and ink particularly in letters with closed loops such as p and g.If these condition is allowed to continue without cleaning, the printed impression will actually print with the clogged areas shaded or solid black.
Cloth ribbon - a type of ribbon used in some models of typewriter.
Collected standards - a sample of writing made during the normal course of business or social activity not necessarily related to the matter in dispute.
Conjoined letters - two letters that have been written in the common manner such that the terminal stroke of the first is the initial stroke of the second.
Connecting stroke - an expression commonly used to refer to the fusion of the terminal stroke of one lower case cursive letter and the initial stroke of another having no identifiable or describable entity of its own.
Cursive - a form of continuous writing in which letters are connected to one another and designed according to some commercial system;the most common allograph of a grapheme.
Decipher - to determine the meaning of, as hieroglyphics or illegible writing, or to translate from cipher into ordinary characters, or to determine the meaning of anything obscure.
Defect - any abnormality of maladjustment in a typewriter that is reflected in its work and leads to its individualization or identification.
Diacritical mark or point - a sign added to a letter or symbol to give it a particular phonetic value.An accent.Sometimes used to refer to the dots over the letter i and J.
Didot system - a typographic measuring system used in Europe and based on the didot point, similar to the U.S.,English Pica system.
Digraph - a group of two successive letters representing a single sound or a complex sound that is not a combination of the sounds ordinarily represented by each in another occurrence.ex. ph in digraph and ch in chin.
Diphthong - the combination of two vowels in succession, the sound of which begins with one and ends with the other.ex. oil,boy,out.
Disguised writing - a deliberate attempt to alter handwriting in hopes of hiding one's identity.
Disputed document - a term suggesting that there is an argument or controversy over a document.Disputed document and Questioned document can be used interchangeably to signify a document that is under special scrutiny.
Document - any material that contains marks, symbols, or signs either visible, partially visible, or invisible that may ultimately convey a meaning or message to someone.
Document examiner - an individual who scientifically studies the details and elements of documents in order to identify their source or to discover other facts concerning them.Documents examiners are often referred to as handwriting identification experts.
Documentation - written notes, audio/video tapes, printed forms, sketches, or photographs that form a detailed record of the scene, evidence recovered, and actions taken during the search of the crime scene.
Erasure - the removal of writing, typewriting, or printing from a document.It may be accomplished by either of two means, a chemical eradication in which the writing is removed or bleached by chemical agents (liquid ink eradicator, abrasive erasure in which the writing is effaced by rubbing with a rubber eraser) or scratching out with a knife.
Exemplar - a specimen of an identified source acquired for the purpose of comparison with an evidence sample.An example of a person's writing, a standard for use in comparisons, a collected or a request specimen.
Facsimile - an image of printed matter that has been transmitted electronically.
Fiber-tip pen - (porous-tip pen) a modern writing instrument in which the marking element or point consists of a porous material through which the ink can flow.
Flow-back - an increase in the density of an ink line caused by the run of excess ink along the finish of a stroke, occurring when the pen is lifted from the paper.
Fluctuation - alternating changes of direction, positions, or conditions (ex.alternating acceleration and deceleration of writing speed) or alternating expansion and contraction of the writing pattern.
Fluency - freedom and other like terms, referring to a generally higher grade of line quality that is smooth, consistent, and without any evidence or tremor or erratic changes in direction of pen pressure.
Flying finish - the diminishing taper of a terminal stroke when the motion of the instrument does not stop at the completion of a word.
Flying start - the growing taper of an initial stroke or the delicate initial hook that appears where the motion of the instrument precedes actual writing.
Font - a complete set or collection of letters, figures, symbols, punctuation marks, and special characters that are of the same design and size for a particular typeface.
Forced hand - a person's signature or writing executed while the hand was under the physical compulsion or control of another person.
Forgery - (free hand imitation) a legal term that involves not only a non-genuine signature or document but also intent on the part of its "marker" to defraud.
Fountain pen - a modern nib pen containing a reservoir of ink in a specially designed chamber or cartridge.After complete filling,the pen maybe used to write a number of pages without refilling.
Fraudulent signature - a forged signature.It involves the writing of a name as signature by someone other than the person without his/her permission, often with some degree of imitation.
Freehand simulation - a fraudulent signature that is produced by copying or imitating the style and size of genuine signature without the use of physical aids or involving a tracing process.
Gooping - the accumulation of excessive amount of ink on the exterior of the point assembly of a ball-point pen as a result of the rotation of the ball, usually transferred to the paper surface immediately after the direction of rotation is substantially changed.
Graphoanalysis - a registered trade name that identifies the system of handwriting analysis taught by the international graphoanalysis society inc.
Graphology - the art of attempting to interpret the character of personality of an individual from his handwriting, also called grapho-analysis.
Graphometry - a method of characterizing a handwriting by measurement of the proportionate values of the angle and ratio of the heights and widths of letters.
Graphonomics - the study of the science and technology of handwriting and other graphic skills (coined in 1982) or the scientific study concerned with the systematic relationship involved in the generation and analysis of writing and drawing movements and the resulting traces of writing and drawing instruments either on conventional media such as paper and blackboard or on electronic equipment.
Guided-hand signature - a signature that is executed while the writer's hand or arm is steadied in any way, also known as assisted signature.Assisted signatures are most commonly written during a serious illness or in deathbed.
Habit - a persistently repeated element or detail of writing that occurs when the opportunity allows.
Hand lettering - (hand printing) any disconnected style of writing in which each letter is written separately.
Haplography - the unintentional omission in writing or copying of one or more adjacent and similar letters, syllables, words,or lines.
Hiatus - a gap in writing stroke of a letter formed when the instrument leaves the paper.An opening, an interruption in the continuity of a line.
Holographic document - any document completely written and signed by one person.
Indented writing - writing impressed into the surface of a page of paper of pressure exerted upon the writing instrument when used on a previous page.
Inert hand - an execution of writing in which the person holding the writing instrument exercises no motor activity whatsoever,conscious or unconscious.The guide leads the writing instrument through the medium of the hand of the first person.The writer may be feeble or a complete illiterate.
Infrared examination - the examination of documents employing invisible radiation beyond the red portion of the visible spectrum.Infrared radiation can be recorded on specially sensitized photographic emulsions or it can be converted by means of an electronic viewing device into visible light for an on the scene study of the evidence.
Infrared luminescence - a phenomenon encountered with some dyes used in inks and colored pencils that when illuminated with a narrow band of light in the blue-green portion of the spectrum give off luminescence that can be detected in the far red or near infrared range.The technique is useful in distinguishing between certain inks and colored pencils and in detecting or deciphering erasures.
Ink eradicator - a chemical solution capable of bleaching ink.
Inorganic pigment - a natural or synthetic metal oxide, sulfide or other salt used as a coloring agent for paints, plastics, and inks.
Insertion - the addition of writing and other material within a document such as between lines and paragraphs or the addition of whole pages to a document.
Interlineation - the act of inserting writing or typewriting between two lines of writing.
Iron-gallotannate ink - this ink is found in fountain pens, was used as early as the 8th century and with substantial improvement, is still in use today.
Joint or Juncture - the point or position at which two or more strokes meet within a letter.
Kerning - the spacing of two letters closer together than customary when their designs leave too much intercharacter white space.
Known standard - a specimen of an identified source acquired for the purpose of comparison with an evidence sample, synonymous with exemplar.
Lateral expansion - the horizontal dimension of writing produced by the width of letters, the space between letters and words, and the width of margins.
Lateral writing - writing characterized by wide letters and spacing.
Left-handed curve - a stroke that is made in a counterclockwise direction.
Left-handed or wrong-handed writing - any writing executed with the opposite hand from that normally used.Sometimes referred to as "writing with the awkward hand" it is an attempt to disguise handwriting.
Legibility - the ease with which a reader recognizes individual letter and character shapes.
Letter - any drawn, written, printed, or typed character, lower case or uppercase that can be recognized as an allograph of the alphabet of any language.
Lexical - pertaining or related to the words of a language.
Ligature - a group of connected characters treated typographically as a single character, sometimes a stroke or bar connecting two letters.
Line quality - appearance of a written stroke determined by a combination of factors such as speed, shading, pen position, and skill, ranges from smooth and legible to tremulous and awkward
Machine defect - any defect in typewriting resulting from the malfunctioning of the machine rather than the typebar or type element.
Manual typewriter - a machine whose operation depends solely upon the mechanical action set in motion by striking a letter or character key.
Manuscript writing - a disconnected form of script or semi-script writing.This type of writing is taught to young children in elementary schools as the first step in learning how to write.
Mirror writing - writing that runs in the opposite direction to the normal pattern, starts on the right side of the page and proceeds from right to left with reversed order in spelling and turning of the letter images.
Moire - the impression with which the habits of the writer are executed on repeated occasions or the divergence of one execution from another in an element of an individual's writing that occurs invariably in the graph but may also occur in the choice of the allograph or normal or usual deviations found between repeated specimens of any individual's handwriting or in the product of any typewriter or other record making machine.
Movement - an important element in handwriting.It embraces all the factors related to the motion of the writing instrument, skills, speed, freedom, hesitation, rhythm, emphasis, tremor, and the like.The manner in which the writing instrument i moved.
Natural writing - any specimen of writing executed normally without an attempt to control or alter its identifying habits and its usual quality of execution.It is the typical writing of an individual.
Nonaqueous ink - ink in which the pigment or dye is carried in any vehicle other than water.Inks of this class are found in ball-point pens, typewriter ribbons, and stamp pads and are widely used in the printing industry.
Nodule - a small, rounded mass or lump of ink caused by an excessive deposit, the result of gooping in some ball-point pens.
Nonce word - a word coined to fit a special situation.
Notes - the documentation of procedures, standard, controls and instruments used, observation made, results of test performed, charts, graphs, photos, and other documents generated that are used to support the examiner's conclusion.
Oblique lighting examination - an examination with the illumination so controlled that it grazes or strikes the surface of the document from one side at a very low angle, also referred to as side light examination.
Orthography - the principles by which the alphabet is set into correspondence with the speech sounds.The art of spelling.
Patching - retouching or going back over a defective portion of a writing stroke.Careful patching is a common defect in forgeries.
Pen - any writing instrument used to apply ink to the paper.
Pen lift - an interruption in a stroke caused by removing the writing instrument from the paper.
Pen position - the relationship between the pen point and the paper.Specifically, the angle between the nib of the pen and the line of writing and between the pen point and the paper surface are the elements of pen position.
Pencil - a writing instrument in which the marking position consists of a compressed stick of graphite or colored marking substance usually mixed with clays and waxes.
Pencil grade - a qualitative description of the hardness or softness of a pencil.
Pencil lead - not really lead but a mixture of various types of waxes, clays, graphite, and carbon.
Permanent defect - any identifying characteristic of a typewriter that can not be corrected by simply cleaning the typeface or replacing the ribbon.
Pica - a unit of measure of printer's type approximately1/6 in. or 12 points, typically used for vertical measurement.Also a term used to denote conventional monotone typewriter typeface that has a fixed character width of 10 to the inch.
Point - the basic typographic unit of measurement of fonts, line spacing, rules, and borders, there are 12 points to a pica and 72 points to the inch, typically used for vertical dimensions.
Pressure - the amount of force exerted on the point of the writing instrument, technically termed point load.
Proportional-spacing typewriter - a modern form of typewriting resembling printing in hat letters, numerals, and symbols do not occupy the same horizontal space as they do with a conventional typewriter.
Questioned document - any document about which some issue has been raised or that is under scrutiny.
Reference collection - collections of typewriting, check-writer specimens, inks, pens, pencils, paper, etc., compiled and organized by the document examiner as standards of the products.
Request standards - writing samples written at the request of another person.
Restoration - any processed in which erased writing is developed or brought out again on the document itself.
Retouching - going back over a written line to correct a defect or improve its appearance, synonymous with patching.
Retracing - any stroke that goes back over another writing stroke.In natural handwriting there may be many instances in which the pen doubles back over the same course but some retracing in fraudulent signatures represents a reworking of a letter form or stroke.
Rhythm - the element of the writing movement marked by regular or periodic recurrences.It maybe classed as smooth, intermittent, or jerky in its quality.
Ribbon condition - cloth or multiple-use typewriter ribbons gradually deteriorate with use and the degree of deterioration is a measure of the ribbon condition.
Ribbon impression - typewriting made directly through a cloth or carbon film ribbon.Original typewriting is made in this way.
River - gaps in the writing or printing pattern that form a straggling white stream down the page.
Roller pen - a type of ball-point pen that uses aqueous ink.
Script - handwriting as distinguished from printing or lettering, cursive writing.
Secret ink - a material used for writing that is not visible until treated by a developing process, also referred to as sympathetic ink.
Sequence of strokes - the order in which writing strokes are placed on he paper.
Serrations - roughness along the edges on an ink line seen under a microscope.
Shading - a widening of the ink stroke due to added pressure on a flexible pen point or to the use of the stub pen.
Signatory - a signer with another or others.A person whose name is being inscribe on a document who requires assistance in doing so.
Signature - the name of a person or mark representing it as written by himself/herself.
Significant writing habit - any characteristic of handwriting that is sufficiently uncommon and well fixed to serve as a fundamental point in the identification.
Single-element typewriter - typewriters using either a type ball or type wheel printing device>The IBM selectric machine was the first modern typewriter of the group.
Skill - evidence of the writer's proficiency.
Slant - the angle or inclination of the axis of letters relative to the baseline.
Smeared-over writing - an obliteration accomplished by covering the original writing with an opaque substance.
Spiral - that portion of a letter executing a spiral formation, popular designs of commencement and termination in older styles of writings.
Splicing - a term used by document examiners to denote the slight overlapping of two strokes after an interruption in the writing.It may be part of imitated, fraudulent signatures that are prepared one or two letters at a time.
Splitting - the division of an ink line into two or more, ,ore or less equal portions by a non inked area running generally parallel to the direction of the stroke, sometimes called burring.
Spurious signature - a fraudulent signature in which there was no apparent attempt at simulation or imitation.It is common form of forgeries encountered in investigations of fraudulent checks where the person passing the checks depends on the surrounding circumstances rather than upon the quality of the signature for his success.
Synthetic dye inks - any ink consisting simply of a dye dissolved in water together with the necessary preservatives.
Traced forgery - any fraudulent signature executed by actually following the outline of a genuine signature with a writing instrument.
Transitory defect - an identifying typewriter characteristic that can be eliminated by cleaning the machine or replacing the ribbon.Clogged typefaces are the most common defects of this class.
Trash mark - mark left on a finished copy during photocopying, results from imperfections or dirt on the cover glass, cover sheet, drum, or camera lens of a photocopy machine.
Tremor - lack of smoothness due to lack of skill, consciousness of the writing act, deliberate control of the instrument in copying or tracing or an involuntary, roughly rhythmic, and sinusoidal movement.Wavy back and forth movement on a written line.
Twisted letter - each character is designed to print at a certain fixed angle to the base line.Wear and damage to the type bar and the type block may cause some letters to become twisted so that they lean to the right or left of their correct slant.
Type ball - a device containing a complete set of typeface of some single-element typewriters.
Typeface - the printing surface of the type block or type element.The name of a particular design of printed characters and symbols.
Typeface defect - any peculiarity in typewriting resulting from actual damage to the typeface metal.
Typewriting system - typewriting device consisting of a machine, ribbon, and font.
Versal letter - those that mark important parts of the text, used for headings and words written at the beginning of books or chapters, often distinguished by size, color, and ornamentation which tends towards curves and flourishes.
Watermark - a translucent design impressed in certain papers during the course of their manufacture.This is accomplished by passing a wet map of fibers across a dandy roll, which is a metal cylinder containing patches of specific pattern designs.The design patches are generally of two types, wire or screen.
Whirl - the curving upstroke usually of letters that have long loops but also on some styles of the capital "W".
Wrong-handed writing - any writing executed with the opposite hand from that normally used, often referred to as writing with the awkward hand.
Xerox - a positive photocopy made directly on plain paper.
Z-twist - a right-handed yarn twist in which the spiral slants like the middle part of the letter "Z".
Related Readings: Questioned Document
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2. Forensic Chemistry Reviewer 1