In the era of the developing world, there has been a lot of development in the ways of money transfer. People usually prefer documents over cash to prevent counterfeiting. But this way of money transfer is not secured as well. Forgers generally forge the signatures on cheques or documents. In this article, we will study the characteristics of genuine and forged signatures to prevent ourselves from any kind of loss.

When any person forges a signature, until and unless we observe it carefully, it is difficult to distinguish that between a genuine and forged signature. The characteristics we need to keep in our mind to identify the reality of signature are line quality, pen pressure, pen lifts, speed, letter size, indentation marks, flourishes and embellishments, and natural variations. We will study each of them in the upcoming section.

In addition to this, we will also look into the type of forgeries committed to forge any document for the purpose of extraneous gains and profits. Let’s study each one of them carefully.

Genuine and Forged Signature Characteristics

  1. LETTER SIZE– The size of the letters in a genuine signature will be almost the same, but in the forged signature, the size of letters won’t be accurate if it is imitated by keeping the model in front to copy. Even after practising several times, there will be a clear difference.
  2. SPEED– If the questioned signature speed is fast, the genuine signature speed will be the same, but a forged signature’s speed will be slow because it takes time to imitate any signature carefully.
  3. LINE QUALITY– One of the most important characteristics of a genuine and forged signature. The line quality of the genuine will be smooth and continuous, while the forged signature will contain tremors, shakiness due to the nervousness while forging.
  4. PEN PRESSURE– The pen pressure of the forged signature will always be more than the genuine because of slow speed and extra pressure to copy the exact to prevent its detection.
  5. PEN LIFTS– The upliftment of the writing instrument while signing is found more in the forged signatures. While copying it either by imitation or inking the indentation, the forger will be lifting the pen to see the next stroke of the signature, which causes pen lifts at unusual places.
  6. INDENTATION MARKS– If the forger is trying to forge a signature by tracing the original sign over the document either by carbon tracing method, indentation method, etc., there will be some indentation marks over the document where the forger is unable to ink it. The genuine one will not have any such marks.
  7. FLOURISHERS & EMBELLISHMENTS– The forger, in a hurry, sometimes forget to add some embellishment or flourishers present in the genuine one, which makes it different from the forged signature. It is a fancy loop, whorl or additional strokes present in a signature.
  8. NATURAL VARIATIONS No two signatures of the same person will be the same. There will be some minute variations that occur naturally and are called natural variations. It is to prove the genuineness and authenticity of a signature. The forged signature will be exactly as the forger can never bring out the variations due to the absence of a clause which helps in its detection as the genuine signatures will never be exact.
  9. DIACRITIC PLACEMENT– Sometimes, the forger forgets to add up the strokes or dots as a diacritic in the signature, put them up in the wrong place or makes the difference in the length or style. Still, everything is accurate when observed in a genuine signature. 

Types of Forgery

To find out the characteristics of genuine and forged signatures or documents, it is important to know about the forgery types. These are as follows: –  

  1. SIMPLE OR FREEHAND FORGERY– Practicing any signature with the standard techniques of hand to forge.
  2. TRACE FORGERY It is the easiest forgery to detect because there is no natural variation clause, and we can see the indentation marks.
  3. SIMULATED OR COPY FORGERY– Imitation or copying a signature after practising it several times.
  4. FORGERY BY TRANSPLANTATION– When a scanned signature of a genuine document is posted or added in an unofficial document to make it official.
  5. FORGERY BY IMPERSONATION– When an individual tries to forge a signature by personifying the person identity. The forged signature can be exact or completely different. 


Stephanie · 20/03/2022 at 11:27 am

Hi, thanks for the info. My situation is that my brother’s ex-wife has signed his name before on forms and when she didn’t like his solicitor written Will, she decided to write one leaving everything to herself and she signed his name. Her signature and my brother’s so called signature are the same length, height, spacing and pressure on the paper. I think over the years her version of his signature has morphed into hers except for the actual lettering. How can I tell if one person wrote both signatures?

    Forensic Yard · 24/03/2022 at 12:38 am

    If the signature has same length, height, pressure, etc. It also means that it was forged/traced deliberately because no single person can sign exactly the same twice. Everytime a person writes/signs some differences are created without being known whether they are slants, dots, pressure, height, etc.

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