Hannah McFarland Certified Document Examiner Forensic Handwriting Analyst

"The court was persuaded by the testimony of Ms. McFarland. The court finds that the signature of..."

"I find [Hannah McFarland] to have an excellent analytical style. When she makes a comparison..."

"...You will see the court found your testimony very credible and determined the document to not contain an authentic signature of..."

Basic Information about Document Examination

No two people write exactly the same way. Nor, for that matter, does one single person as your own signature varies over time. Determining who wrote a given writing or printing sample is accomplished by identifying a combination of handwriting traits that are unique to one person only.

Requirements for Document Examination

Because nobody writes exactly the same way twice, I need to determine how much a person varies his or her handwriting. Doing this requires a sufficient amount of authentic or "known" writing to compare against the questioned handwriting. The following is a guide to what I need in order to conduct a handwriting comparison:

Sometimes the quantity and quality of writing samples available for examination does not exactly meet the criteria listed above. I can still perform the forensic document examination, but may give a qualified opinion.

My collegue Richard Orsini has put together a wonderful list of typical places where you can locate handwriting samples.

Request Writing Samples

When there is a very limited amount of exemplars available, it may become necessary to have a person provide writing samples. Writing samples executed for the purpose of handwriting comparison are known as "request writing". Here is some useful information about taking request writing samples by Katherine Koppenhaver of the Baltimore, MD area.

Famous Cases

Another collegue, Emily Will, has compiled a list of famous document examination cases, available here.