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Handwriting refers to a person's writing created with a writing utensil such as a pen or pencil. The term encompasses both printing and cursive styles and is separate from formal calligraphy or typeface.
Because each person's handwriting is unique, it can be used to verify a document's writer, and the deterioration of a person's handwriting is also a symptom or result of certain diseases.
Uniqueness of handwriting
Characteristics of handwriting include:
- specific shape of letters, e.g. their roundness or sharpness
- regular or irregular spacing between letters
- the slope of the letters
- the rhythmic repetition of the elements or arrhythmia
- the pressure to the paper
- the average size of letters
Uses of handwriting samples
Because handwriting is relatively stable, a change in the handwriting can be indicative of the nervousness or intoxication of the writer.
A sample of a person's writing can be compared to that of a written document to determine and authenticate the written document's writer; if the writing styles match, it is likely that one person wrote both documents.
Graphology is the pseudoscientific study and analysis of handwriting in relation to human psychology. Graphology has been used in the medical field as an aid in diagnosis and tracking of diseases of the brain and nervous system, though such use is highly controversial.
- Sargur Srihari, Chen Huang and Harish Srinivasan. On the Discriminability of the Handwriting of Twins. J Forensic Sci. 2008 Mar;53(2):430-46. http://www.cedar.buffalo.edu/~srihari/papers/TR-04-07.pdf
- "Barry Beyerstein Q&A". Ask the Scientists. Scientific American Frontiers. Retrieved 2008-02-22. "they simply interpret the way we form these various features on the page in much the same way ancient oracles interpreted the entrails of oxen or smoke in the air. I.e., it's a kind of magical divination or fortune telling where 'like begets like.'"
- James, Barry (3 August 1993). "Graphology Is Serious Business in France : You Are What You Write?". New York Times. Retrieved 18 September 2010.