Collection of Specimens

Care should be taken to provide good quality, appropriate specimens. Clients should review the questioned document and submit specimens in accordance with the type of examination required. For example, a signature case will require specimen signatures. Block printing and numerals will require specimens of block printing and numerals. Cursive handwriting will require specimens of cursive handwriting.

In a signature case, clients should try to submit 10-20 specimen signatures, preferably originals and preferably from the same approximate time period as the questioned signature. A handwriting case will require extended text, sufficient to establish the habits of the writer. This varies from case to case. Collected signature and handwriting specimens are those samples written in the ordinary course of business. Sources of collected specimens include the following:

  • Social Insurance Card
  • Passport
  • Citizenship Card
  • Driver's License
  • Health Card
  • Marriage Certificate
  • Diaries, telephone books
  • Cards and letters
  • School notebooks, tests, essays
  • Membership Cards
  • Employment and Insurance Applications
  • Time Cards
  • Performance Reviews
  • File Notes
  • Bank Signature Cards
  • Cheques
  • Deposit/Withdrawal Slips
  • Credit Card Receipts
  • Income Tax Returns
  • Loan Applications
  • Mortgage/Deeds
  • Wills, Powers of Attorney
  • Affidavits

At times it may be difficult to obtain an adequate set of collected standards. If the individual is available and willing, a set of request standards can also be obtained. Certain precautions are required in order to reduce nervousness and possible attempts to disguise the writing.

The materials should be dictated without suggestions as to arrangement, spelling, punctuation, capitalization, or other features which may lead to attempts to disguise or modify natural writing habits. Portions of the dictation should be repeated on separate sheets of paper, preferably three times if it is a long text, or up to ten times if it is a short text. The sheets should be removed after each one is written.

The dictated text is often the contents of the questioned document, and/or similar material, containing many of the same words, phrases and letter combinations. A third type of requested writing is a standardized form that includes all the letters of the alphabet, numbers and commonly used words. The best results are usually achieved with the first two types of dictated text.

Writing instruments and paper should be similar to those used in preparing the questioned document. Normal writing conditions should be arranged. Brief rest periods should be provided.

The initial speed of the dictation should be set so that the individual is not rushed, but the speed of later specimens should be varied. It is more difficult to maintain a disguise if required to write quickly. Specimens written to request should be signed and dated by the person taking the specimens and the person providing the specimens. The investigator should also provide notes and observations, for example, handedness of the writer, any impairment or injury, special conditions of writing, etc. A combination of collected and request writing can help to close gaps and either confirm or rule out disguise.

Specimen and questioned items should be placed in separate marked envelopes. Do not underline or use highlighter pen on the questioned document.

The cover letter should list the items being submitted.

Clients are encouraged to call and discuss their specific cases.

33 Bloor Street East, Suite 1000, Toronto, Canada M4W 3H1
Tel: (416) 967-7720 Fax: (416) 929-3847