Handwriting is the examination of the marks created by the interaction of the writing instrument and the writing surface. The human hand, made up of tendons, muscles, and 26 bones is a complex machine. The influences of training and emotion on an individual's writing must also be taken into consideration. Variations in the grip of the pencil and style can be seen as changes in shape and size of characters. Special problems occur when dealing with indented writing, obliterations, and damaged samples.

Character  any letter, number, symbol or punctuation mark found in a writing sample

Chromatography  a method of separating materials by size through capillary action.

 It uses two phases: stationary solid phase  where material is not moving and mobile liquid phase where particles are migrating through a medium with a solvent.

Exemplar  a sample of writing obtained from a known source

Indented writing  deformation of paper due to pressure applied by writing instrument which may persist to subsequent pages

Natural variation  range of normal changes found in an individual’s handwriting

Nonrequest writing   any writing sample from everyday life such as lists, forms, business transactions, and letters

Obliterations   intentional destruction of writing by overwriting with additional marks (not erasure)

Questioned document   any document in whole or in part containing marks of unknown origin or authorship

Request writing   sample of writing collected using a prescribed text as part of an investigation

Security features   specialized marks, devices used to prevent duplication, alteration, or counterfeiting such as microprint, colored fibers, watermarks, dyes, and magnetic stripes

Signature   an individual mark chosen to serve as a personal sign of authorship. It may be the full and actual name or a stylized version or symbol.

Finger bones are identified in their position related to the midline of the body. 
Proximal is closest to midline. 
Medial is in between. 
Distal is the farthest from midline.

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