“That which does not kill us makes us stronger.” ― Friedrich Nietzsche

Handwriting analysis, also called graphology, is the study of the characteristics and strokes of a person’s handwriting. Graphology can be used in a variety of ways, such as attributing old manuscripts to specific authors, helping behaviorists build a psychological profile of an unknown person and to help solve crimes (forensic graphology). In general, a background in psychology is helpful for those who want to pursue a career in graphology and become a Certified Graphologist or Master Graphologist.

How Much Can Someone *Really* Tell from Handwriting?
Handwriting is fairly unique between individuals. Even people who seem to have nearly the same handwriting at first glance will have subtle differences in the strokes they use to form letters that graphologists can use to distinguish between one person and another. We also write certain letters and parts of letters in a highly subconscious way. While we are conscious of the content of what we’re writing and what we want to say, writing the actual letters of each word is nearly automatic and thus our unconscious characteristics come through in our handwriting. Even our current mood can show up in our handwriting. Here are some examples:

Handwriting Analysis Investigations
Handwriting analysts are often called upon to help law enforcement, private investigators, fraud investigators and forensics examiners to evaluate handwriting on documents or sets of documents to either match them to a single writer or to help identify characteristics of the individual to assist in narrowing in on suspects. Graphology can literally solve crimes in some cases. Here a couple of famous cases you might have heard of that were solved by handwriting analysis investigations:

Lindbergh Baby Kidnapping:
Famed aviator Charles Lindbergh’s 20-month-old son was kidnapped from his crib on the evening of March 1, 1932. The kidnapper left behind a ransom letter on the window sill. Ransom was paid April 2, 1932, but unfortunately, the child’s body was found May 12, 1932. Once evidence led police to Bruno Richard Hauptmann, one of the key factors leading to his conviction and execution was comparison of his handwriting to the ransom letter left at the scene. Eight handwriting analysts testified in Hauptmann’s trial and played a major role in proving his involvement in the child’s kidnapping and murder.

BTK Killer:
The BTK killer, Dennis Rader, murdered at least ten people in Kansas between 1974 and 1991. He sent numerous letters to police and various media outlets taunting them to find him and providing graphic details, photographs and other evidence proving the writer of the letters as the killer. The letters suddenly stopped and another was not received until more than a decade later in 2004. A combination of DNA evidence and handwriting analysis of Rader’s many letters to police, to the media and those left in public places for passers-by to find led to his arrest and conviction in 2005.