What are the 12 characteristics of handwriting?

handwriting with a pen

Writing by hand is something that most of us do without much thought, but the way we write can offer an insight into our personality.

Not only that but handwriting is unique to each person, much like a fingerprint.

While we all have crossovers, no two people’s writing will be identical.

For example, two people may form their y’s similarly, but the letters will be a different size. Two other people may have writing of the exact same size, but one of them dots their I’s to the left, and the other to the right.

If a crime takes place where there’s a piece of handwritten evidence available, it’s possible to match it to a suspect through the process of handwriting analysis.

Handwritten evidence could be a forged document, a letter, a random note, or anything else featuring handwritten words.

For handwriting analysis, 12 characteristics are taken into consideration by the experts. I have outlined each of them below.

The 12 characteristics of handwriting


1. Line quality

Do the lines flow or are they shaky and irregular? This can indicate the speed of the writing. Prolonged writing can hint at someone copying the handwriting of another or trying to alter their own in some other way.

2. Word and letter spacing

Are the letters and words equally spaced out, or are they bunched together? Or, is there seemingly no pattern to the spacing?

3. Size consistency

Is the ratio of height to width consistent in each letter?

4. Pen lifts

Does the writer lift the pen from the paper or is the writing continuous? Excessive pen lifts can hint at simulation — someone deliberately altering their natural handwriting or copying that of another.

5. Connecting strokes

Are uppercase and lowercase letters connected and continuous?

6. Letters complete

Are the letters fully formed, or are parts missing?

7. Cursive and printed letters

Are the letters cursive, printed, or a combination of both?

8. Pen pressure

Is the pen pressure equal for upward and downward strokes? When is the pressure applied?

9. Slant

Do the letters slant to the left or the right, or does this vary?

10. Baseline habits

Is the writing on the baseline of the paper, above the line, or below the line?

11. Flourishes and embellishments

Are there any fancy curls, loops or anything else unusual in the writing?

12. Diacritic placement

Where are the crosses on t’s and dots on i’s? Are the t’s crossed? Is the cross on the t at the top, middle or bottom of the letter? Are the I’s dotted? If so, are they dotted to the left, the centre, or the right of the I?

It is worth noting that a person may form a letter differently depending on where it appears in a word. Analysts like to find an example of each in the writing they are viewing.

Other things to be considered are spelling, phrasing and grammar.

While investigating and comparing each of the above categories, the analysers also need to consider the following.

Factors that can result in changes to a person’s handwriting:

  • Age
  • Mood
  • How much time they have to write
  • The writing instrument used
  • Drink and drugs
  • Illness
  • Trying to write differently

The last one is fascinating, as analysis teams also know exactly how people may try to change their handwriting and can, therefore, consider that.

Fascinated by handwriting? Find out why handwriting is so important on our blog.

Lucy is our lead editor and has been passionate about stationery since childhood. She has a particular fondness for rollerball and calligraphy pens and is a keen advocate of snail mail.

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