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  • Terry Elmaleh

What is Handwriting Analysis

Handwriting analysis is the holistic examination of handwriting used to form a personality and character profile for different applications. The assessment of numerous objective criteria such as form, size, speed, slant movement and organisation are examined and are combined to provide insight into the personal qualities of the writer. Nothing that a person writes is a result of chance and most features can be integrated into a whole to find meaning.

It is, in essence, the psychology of handwriting and I analyse unique individual handwriting, unique logos, and typographies – anything that falls under the banner of writing.

There is a large body of empirical and scientific evidence to support and validate graphological claims and an ever increasing body of research is being assembled on an on-going basis. Like other behavioural sciences there is also an element of the interpretation needed in order to understand and assimilate all the threads of information. This interpretative skill is acquired with training, knowledge and experience.

Handwriting analysis is a complex exercise because we are actually assessing “brainwriting.” – a term coined by Wilhelm Preyer, a Professor of Physiology and Psychology at the University of Jena when he noticed similarities in handwriting, foot writing, tooth or mouth writing or writing with the unaccustomed hand.

Physiologically it has been demonstrated and accepted that the physical aspect of writing is as important as the psychological aspect. An impulse originates in the brain. The message is then sent to the arm, leg or face, then to the hand, foot or mouth and then to the fingers, toes or teeth. What is important to note is that in this way the intent to write forms deep within the creative processes of the mind and makes writing an expressive gesture representative of the mind behind the pen. There is intricate nerve-muscle coordination necessary to accomplish the act of writing. The flexor and tensor muscles alternatively contract and release to produce the pressure of the writing. Upstrokes require a releasing movement and the downstroke demands a contracting movement.

What do handwriting analysts use to do an analysis?

When analysing handwriting, graphologists take the outer signs, the veneer that a person unconsciously and consciously puts down on paper and reveal what lies beneath the mask of the strokes on the page (for example, the margins are conscious, line spacing is unconscious). The movement, spacing and form of the writing is then studied in intricate detail and then using researched signs and clusters, a personality profile is formed based on dominant and sub-dominant features in the writing. Handwriting is evaluated holistically as a gestalt of the writing; when “the whole is more than the sum of their atomistic parts”. This is applied through a set pattern of principles. We combine and synthesize information that requires training and judgment in its application.

Part of the analysis is also about trait stroke analysis and different analysts use gestalt and the trait stroke method in different processes and systems .There is no simple “this means that” answer when analysing handwriting and when people ask me “why do I write my “y” like this”, I cannot give them a definitive answer as it would depend on other unique elements in the writing that would have to be examined before a competent answer could be given. Certain letters in handwriting may seem like huge issues to the lay person but to a trained handwriting analyst they may not be meaningful at all.

There is no need for a handwriting analyst to understand the language of the writer or to meet the writer – all that is needed is a sample of the writer’s natural writing.

What can you tell from my handwriting?

Handwriting is as unique as a person’s fingerprints – the difference being that it tells a story.

Your handwriting is an extension of your body language. Just as we assess a person by the strength of a handshake, a voice, a smile, a particular gesture, a tone of voice and manner, so we take cues from handwriting.

Our writing is a form of self-expression and mirrors our lives unfolding and our personal journeys. Whatever resonates with a person will be seen in the writing – handwriting analysts, in a sense, study exaggerations.

It is an extremely accurate and powerful indicator of behaviour as it reveals who the writer is as a result of his total life experiences and behind the masks and defenses that the writer may have learnt to put up. Below are just some of the aspects and insights into personality that can be revealed from our handwriting:

character and personality


thinking style



communication skills

social, interpersonal, emotional, academic intelligence

motivation, drive, creativity


work ethic

leadership/executive ability


Why do we all write differently if we were all taught to write the same?

This is because when people write they express in detail the conditions of their own personal world regardless of their educational conditioning. The extent to which a person deviates from what he was taught “the copybook style” is in itself a parameter by which we measure certain aspects of that person’s personality. That we all begin to write differently pretty soon after we are all taught the same way is one of the strongest pillars reinforcing the basis upon which the science of handwriting analysis prevails.

Why does handwriting change over time and sometimes every other day and sometimes even a few times during the day?

Because personality, thoughts and relationships are processes that fluctuate and evolve as the person grows and matures and experiences life on a daily basis. Because we change over time and our moods and emotions change, and, depending on our stage of life, sometimes every day and sometimes even throughout the day. This is reflected in your writing which tells the story.

You leave your thoughts behind on the paper as you write. It reflects your sentiment, physiology and the importance of the subject matter you are writing about at the time of writing.

In addition to this your handwriting matures, grows and disintegrates along with the personality or with physical and emotional changes due to age, health, joy or tension. Although handwriting changes over time a person can still be identified by their particular individual style of writing.

Why do some people have two signatures?

There is no accurate answer until the person’s handwriting is also analysed together with the signature except to say that this person feels the need to represent themselves differently - have a different persona - for different scenarios.

Signatures should always be examined in conjunction with the person’s actual writing. Be doubtful if an analysis is solely based on a signature as a signature does not exist in a vacuum and must be analysed together with that person’s writing as it represents only one side of the writer.

Here are some interesting facts about signatures: they are personal logos that you chose and design yourself as no one teaches you how to write your signature; you don’t ever sign in exactly the same manner as there is natural variation; there is often symbolism represented in a person’s signature.

“A man may lie, simulate, disown himself: a portrait may change or beautify him: a book can lie and so can a letter, but in one thing man is inseparably attached to the innermost truth of his nature – in his handwriting. Handwriting betrays a man, whether he wants it or not, it is as unique as his personality, and sometimes reveals what he conceals. Although handwriting does not betray everything, it does reveal the essential – the essence of personality, as it were, is given in a tiny abbreviation.”

Stefan Zweig (1881-1942) well-known Austrian novelist, playwright, journalist and biographer

Sensing the personality of a person by looking at their handwriting is actually using your common sense and natural intuition.

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