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What's Needed


Standards for Comparison


A.     Definition – A set of authentic specimens containing a comprehensive representation of the material from a know source.  They are used for comparison purposes with the questioned material.  Exemplars may also be known by the terms “Specimens”, “Samples” and “Knowns”


B.     Types of Exemplars:


1.      “Natural” [non-requested] Known samples – standards which were prepared, without being specifically solicited, in the normal, routine course of occupational, business or personal activity.


2.      “Requested” specimens – standards which are obtained from and prepared by a subject in the presence of someone for the specific purpose of comparison with questioned writing or signatures.


C.     Handwriting/Signature Exemplars


1.      “Natural” [non-requested] writing/signatures.


a.       See list of “Possible Sources”


b.      Where possible, obtain originals


c.       Obtain Known writings and/or signatures which were authored in approximately the same [relative] time period as the Questioned writing.


2.      “Requested” writing specimens.


a.      Use standard exemplar forms – See attached exemplar forms.


b.      Should include similar subject matter – similar words, letters and combinations of letters as those appearing in the Questioned writing.


c.       Writing instrument and material should be similar to those used to produce the Questioned writing.


d.      Dictate specific text to be written by subject.


(1)    Follow the procedures for obtaining “Requested” writing specimens as outlined in the procedures attached.


(2)   Include any misspelled words which appear in the Questioned writing.


(3)   Include words or sentences which appear in the Questioned writing.


e.       Obtain samples of writing from subject using unaccustomed (awkward) hand whenever possible.


f.       Obtain an adequate number of standards to determine the natural variation and writing characteristics of the subject.  The value of the exemplars

increases with repetition and also discourages and/or identifies attempts at disguise.


D.     Photocopy Exemplars


1.       When obtaining exemplars make the following notes:


a.       Make, model and serial number of photocopier.


b.      Position of paper.


c.       Default conditions.


2.       If possible obtain maintenance records and/or service logs of the copier.


3.       Prepare numerous photocopies (approximately 10 each) as follows:


a.      Lid down with nothing on platen.


b.      Lid down with plain white paper.


c.       Copies from different tray stations with plain white paper.


4.      Prepare several photocopies (approximately 5 to 10) with different contrast settings.  Indicating setting on reverse side of copy made.


5.      Obtain original of the questioned document to determine if any enlargement or reduction is present.


6.      Do not secure the photocopy exemplars with paper clips, staples, etc. Place them in non-clasp envelopes.


E.     Miscellaneous documents (checks, forms, letterhead paper, etc.)


1.      Obtain a sufficient number (approximately ten (10)) of original exemplars.


2.       Obtain samples that were prepared during the same time period as the questioned document.


3.      Obtain exemplars that were prepared on different production dates.




A.     Most facsimile (machine) copies cannot be used for inter-comparative examinations.  The transmission process causes distortion (often a ragged appearance) and disruption in the line quality of writing and/or signatures.  Small and subtle elements which are indicative of simulation are lost or distorted in the facsimile copies.  Facsimile copies of either the Questioned or Known document(s) that contain distortion and disruption in line quality should not be submitted or used for examination purposes.


B.     Good, clean photocopies can be used for examination purposes; however, in most cases, a document examiner will not render a positive opinion (either identification or elimination) until a review of the original is conducted.


C.    Microfiche copies can also be used for examination purposes but they must be good clean copies.  Again, in most cases, a document examiner will not render a positive opinion until a review of the original is conducted.


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