Diagramming as a Tool for Measuring and Comparing Spatial Relationships in Handwriting
Patricia Siegel, Ph.D.,
Handwriting expert, New York, USA
In Chernov, Y., & Nauer, M. A. (Eds.). (2023). Handwriting Research: Forensics & Legal. P. 3-16.
Diagramming is a technique document examiners can use to highlight graphic relationships within handwriting. It provides the forensic document examiner with an additional tool for discovery and measurement and can be part of the process of determining whether or not handwriting is authentic. The focus here will be on signatures and how mapping the proportions within signatures gives insights that might otherwise be missed.
Diagramming is particularly helpful in discovering spatial relationships within signatures. It is a means of graphically mapping out habitual movement, providing another perspective when comparing questioned signatures with known exemplars. The technical aspect of diagramming enhances observation while adding precision and reducing bias in the examination process.
A handwriting examination requires an understanding of the intention behind the written gesture. That includes evaluating the expressive aspects of the signatures as a whole and not relying solely on linear measures that do not relate to other features or the writing. It requires the ability to holistically integrate written cues and examine how the parts fit together. Handwriting identification is both art (perception and experience) and science (methodology and systematic examination). This graphic mapping process enhances objectivity and helps reduce errors.
The concept of diagramming was developed by Werner Wolff in Diagrams of the Unconscious. His research and exploration of habitual configurations in signatures revealed repetitive patterns that are highlighted through diagramming.
As with most techniques, diagramming has advantages and limitations. Only by working with diagramming can a handwriting examiner learn where and when it can be used effectively and accurately. Overall, diagramming can potentially add a valuable dimension to the handwriting identification process.