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Handwriting Analysis

by Mark Edward, May 16 2009

penscript_1_Can a person tell character traits simply by looking at a sample of handwriting? Yes …and no. The average person  on the street would probably give a resounding yes answer to the question. As far as contemporary society goes, the buisness of professional handwriting analysis or graphology is given a pass and is an accepted “scientific” barometer. Professional purveyors of this form of reading are venerated in some of the highest offices of government and business. This has always surprised me. In my experience, a good handwriting session is really no different than a palm or tarot card reading. In many cases, especially when the “client” (the preferred term as opposed to “sitter” if you are  a psychic) is sitting in front of you, the real reading is focused on the person, not the actual writing. It’s usually such a no brainer, I’m amazed people even bother to consult “pros” in this popular field. Here’s a crash course in the subject:

First, there’s what I call in the business of giving readings of any sort; The Duh Factor. You know that if the woman’s name is “Bambi” and she’s wearing a pink leather mini-skirt and dots the “i” in her name with a small open circle or even a more expressive open heart shape, you can pretty much take it for granted you have all you need to know about  her lifestyle, needs and general demeanor. I indeed may be generalizing, but that’s mainly what psychics, psychiatrists and handwriting analyzers do. We generalize. There are only so many ways to form letters and a fixed alphabet. If you can construct a reliable closed set of variables that creatively pigeonholes those forms, loops and swirls into a recognizable system, you too can become an expert in no time at all. All that remains is to dress in a suit and tie or up-scale strapless cocktail dress as the case may be and not the usual gypsy garb most palm readers wear, re-tool your thinking away from the carnival midway and more toward the boardroom – and voila: you are in a legit business.

garphickIt doesn’t take a genius to do this. I know because I wrote a whole book on it and it sells relatively well considering the glut of such books on the market. In my book “Graphick,” I put together sixteen clear indicators that will show up  and supplied samples taken from various gigs I managed to land through my hungry agent. When the party calls for something up-scale and the host turns up their nose at the thought of hiring one of those disreputable “psychic types,” never fear: we are too happy to oblige and are certainly prepared with our blue blazer and Windsor knotted tie to satisfy even the must refined and sophisticated guests. I’m dressed stylishly as a professional and convincingly “scientific.” No one would ever guess that the night before, I might have been wearing a  turban and turning over a greasy pack of tarot cards at a midnight seance.

One of my favorite stories concerns my good friend and partner in crime, Daniel Hamilton and the experience he had while reading tarot cards at a psychic fair in Las Vegas. In a room full of readers on a hot and busy day, Daniel found himself without a sitter and after sitting alone by himself for several more minutes than he could afford without a “mark,” he decided it was time to bait his hook and offer a passer-by a free reading to grease the wheel. Catching the eye of a young lady, he offered his deal. She happened to be carrying a rolled up piece of paper and after turning to answer David’s entreaty, snipped in a most snarky way, “….Oh, no thank you. I don’t buy into any of that psychic stuff, I’ve just had my handwriting analyzed by a professional.” Really? This kind of double standard is hilarious to me. This so-called “professional graphologist” was occupying a stall within ten feet of my friend the tarot reader, charging the same fee and no doubt offering much the same information. But since it seemed more “scientific” and gave the impression that somehow it was all above board and legit, Daniel was left to ponder the relative value of one con over another. 

You don’t need a microscope to read between the lines.image_manlookinginmicroscop-1

Common sense and the skills learned through the study and application of cold reading supply all the know-how necessary. There’s no need to wear a lab coat like the guy pictured here. If you must go for that look, but don’t be surprised if a little old lady asks you for a pelvic exam.  All I do is give the client a piece of paper suitably inscribed with my name and contact information (should they desire a repeat performance at their own party later down the line) and a large array of pens and pencils to choose from. Part of my system involves that first moment when the sitter sits down and chooses whatever writing implement they wish. Without giving away too much of my nefarious “secrets” here, let’s just say that an awful lot can be gleaned from the style of writing tool a person chooses. There’s a huge difference between the personality of a person who chooses to write with a wide nibbed black Sharpie and a soft number two pencil. Once again, generally speaking; the person who chooses the fat dark line is going to be far more out front and demonstrative than the person who chooses a pencil. A pencil will usually indicate someone who is unsure, changes their mind a lot (erases, etc) or is generally indecisive:  i.e. “sketchy.”  The lady who chooses the gold trimmed Tiffany pen is likely to express tons more style in her handwriting (and lifestyle) than a person who picks up the blue Bic. Makes sense doesn’t it?

Sure, there are exceptions to every rule. But remember, by the time I have had a chance to look over the sitter’s jewelry, shoes, finger nails, voice and body langauge, I have a big head start on what will probably be their writing/life style before they even jot their name down. I learn more about this “profession” every time I go out on a job. I simply observe. There’s no college degree in graphology and absolutely no qualifications to become an expert other than the desire to learn a system and make a buck. Any altruistic or therapeutic aspects are completely irrelevent.  This is “science” remember? The woo factor is almost nil, which makes it so appealing to the more self-assured business crowd. The more I do handwriting analysis, the more accurate I get at nailing each written sample in a scientifically convincing way. Like any repeitive action, you get better at it as time passes; like swimming laps or playing pool. In combination with the other observations I have made, I can usually tell the sitter not only what kind of personality they have, but on occasion; shift the reading into even more radical territory by offering what I see in their future for them!

Shame on me, right?                                                     

No. People ask for this “service” and if the price is right, I’m there to provide it. If it sounds like a con, that’s just me on this blog for right now. Make an appointment and I’ll wear my best tweeds. You can go on the Internet and see hundreds of people offering the same thing. Granted, it’s a lot easier if the client is sitting in front of you, but a person’s signature or handwriting is basically either legible: showing an ordered business minded individual, or a complete illegible mess, which could indicate many things such as a person with too much ego, an artistic type, someone with lots on their mind, an extrovert or even a mentally ill nut case. Everything else falls in between the extremes of this spectrum. It is only up to an alert  person to gauge where on this spectrum a client lies, then feed back the impressions gathered to be able to profit from this sort of business.

7daycourseIs it deception to practice this art to make a living? Hard to say. My ex-brother in law is a respected dentist and one of the top in his field in Beverly Hills. He’s not one to fall for the slightest bit of anything that smacks of woo. Just the same, whenever he takes in job applications he sends them to a “specialist”  for “qualified handwriting analysis.” He didn’t take my suggestion too kindly when I told him I could probably be just as accurate for a fraction of the cost he was paying out to this “corporate specialist”. He knows I do readings of all kinds and his clinical mind just wouldn’t allow him to accept the fact that the same mind that looks at a the lines on a palm and delivers an accurate reading there could do the same for a dental hygienist’s handwriting.  The fact is, the only difference is I don’t have an office in Beverly Hills, fancy stationary or a phony certificate on the wall to back up my claims. I could get those things easily enough if I decided I wanted to go that route. 

Handwriting analysis has become big business. In a time of identity theft and high security fears, there’s a market for anyone who can take a few days to become familiar with a good system. Where’s the harm? Probably negligible. But like they say: a little knowledge can be dangerous. I would be hard pressed to admit I had only the scant “scientific evidence” of graphology to back me up if I was the guy who signed off on a security guard at the local nuclear power plant and found out too late the person in question was one of those “exceptions to the rules.”

One further note of similarity to the cons of the bygone days of the spiritualist and the handwriting specialist: In the heyday of phony psychics and mediumship, (or is that today? I can’t tell anymore…) one of the best ways to provide not only a quick reading but also get your name and contact information into the hands of your prey was to give them what was known then as a “tick sheet.” This was basically a sheet of traits and characteristics that could be “ticked off” *as the reader sat with the client. This is merely a carefully calculated spread of generalities. In the hands of a practised manipulator, this guide can become a prisied document demostrating the occult awareness of any streetwise swamii. The same style “tick sheets” are available on the Internet at one graphology site. Take a look at the various attributes and how they are catagorized and you will quickly see that just about everything anyone might want to know about  is covered. How hard is it to sit down opposite a unwary sitter, have them sign their name and then go ahead and be 90-100% accurate with this kind of guide?


Amazing isn’t it? Can making a living get any easier than this? So step up to big pay! Become a handwriting expert!

Yet another subject hanging low on the tree and ready to drop into “The Skeptologists” hands.

*probably where the phrase “being ticked off” originated.

Final shameless info: “Graphick”is availble for purchase at:

14 Responses to “Handwriting Analysis”

  1. Brian says:

    Nice overview of an often-neglected subject. But I’m curious — is it actually legal to use handwriting analysis to screen prospective employees? Not that I want to get people in trouble, but I seem to remember this coming to a court case, and graphology was ruled not to be reliable enough to be a method of legal discrimination. Possibly this was in Canada, though. Does anyone know?

    • Susan Gerbic says:

      I know that I am not allowed to ask for birthdays (month and day) on applications as it might prejudice me from not hiring someone that will not fit in with my other Leos, Cancers ect…. But I learned this 20+ years ago, no application asks for this info anymore (it did back then)

      Now a days no one turns in written applications, everything is done on-line. Wonder what this dentist does if he gets a typed application, does he disregard it or tell them to resubmit with handwriting? I smell a lawsuit!

      Sometimes we have to force people into the 21st century!


    • Anthony O'Neal says:

      I am pretty certain that in most American states, they can fire you or decide not to hire you for pretty much any reason they want, besides a set of narrow circumstances like sex, race, disability etc…

      I remember one case of a lady being fired for having a Kerry bumper sticker. Perfectly legal in Bubba, Alabama.*


  2. MadScientist says:

    @Brian: The funny thing about the law is that it legislates against discrimination based on age, gender, ethnicity, disabilities, and religious beliefs. It’s perfectly fine for me to not offer you a job because you had ‘raccoon eyes’ (but maybe not for a hare lip) or because of a tattoo or piercing. I would imagine that for the most part employers will get away with rejecting people because of a ‘handwriting analysis’.

    Now for the good part; you can whack the employer with an order to reveal the name, address, and other details of the graphologist and to surrender all other documents obtained during the decision process. You can then sue the graphologist and you might have a case for the graphologist causing you to lose out on a job.

    • Max says:

      What law does it violate again?
      I heard of the Employee Polygraph Protection Act, but I never heard of any protections from graphology, astrology, or other pseudosciences.

      • MadScientist says:

        The point to be argued was that you lost a job opportunity when you were the best qualified because of some monkey who claims to magically gain knowledge about you from looking at your handwriting. If what’s written about you is libelous that’s even better. Since there is no explicit protection from woo in the selection process (and I don’t expect there to ever be) you have to make use of existing laws and cases. Of course one way around such problems is to simply refer all selection to the graphologist; they will simply pick a name, keep no records of why they chose a particular candidate (or keep fraudulent records which would aid in a future defense), and make up stories if they’re hauled in front of a judge. On the other hand, do you really want to work for idiots who believe in that crap?

  3. tmac57 says:

    MadScientist- I’m not sure how a hiring prospect would ever learn that they were rejected on the basis of their handwriting alone. The employer would be careless to admit it, and the “expert” would not want to openly disclose it either for fear of liability. I would imagine the employer would just say “that you don’t meet our needs at this time, but we will be in touch if our needs change.” Probably some cases have come up, but I doubt that most employers would be that loose about their hiring practices.

    • MadScientist says:

      I agree it would be tough – but then so are cases of violations of the anti-discrimination laws. This would be even tougher I guess since there may not be any straightforward relation to existing laws – but I’m not a lawyer or familiar with all the laws which may be relevant, I’m just saying that it’s likely that some people or businesses could be breaking laws by engaging woosters in their employee selection process.

  4. Canadian Curmudgeon says:

    I once had a job interview that included some type of personality test (not Myers-Briggs, but similar). I don’t know how he used the results, but he was the worst SOB I ever worked for.

    I’d be inclined to walk away from any hiring process that included such garbage.

  5. Will Lewis says:

    Aside from the single (intentional) typo, I have one problem: your analysis in regards to pencils is off. Pencils are perfect because the first draft is always poor, and a revision is always necessary. The pencil allows minor changes, unworthy of a revision, to be made on the fly. Additionally, my 7th grade English teacher insisted that I only write with mechanical pencils because my penmanship is atrocious, and nothing is as crisp as the strokes of a .5mm pencil. As for pencil choice, two things matter: 1) mechanical or not (wood does smell good, but it must be constantly sharpened); and 2) quality of the eraser. If not mechanical, then the only sensible choice is the Dixon Ticonderoga because they use real wood that smells good and their erasers are second to none.

  6. Michael C says:

    I just read another great article by Karen Stollznow about graphology on Swift:

  7. Jeff says:

    Definitely agree.

    But it is worth menotioning there is a legitimate use in matching handwritting samples at crimes to those of the criminals.

  8. DogBreath says:

    Lots of words here about using graphology as a foil for doing cold (or warm) reading, but nothing about any possible scientific validity for it.

    Hiring is HARD, firing is HARDER. I understand when those that hire use any means at their disposable to try to not be wrong. I get the impression that most of the responders here have not made multi-$$$$$$ mistakes in hiring, but only like to whine.

    I worked at one of the most politically correct companies in the world. They spent huge amounts of time and resources to try to get hiring right (no, no handwriting analysis). In the end, they were forced by their genes to live with their failures for a looooong time.

  9. Handwriting Analysis is a science. You can read more about it, and how you can use it to defend yourself from forgery, in honor of National Handwriting Day