Grafoscopy: History, Principles and Differences with Graphology

The grafoscopy , word that comes from the Greek graph (writing) and skopia (observation), is used for the study and analysis of written texts, so that you can know if it is a forgery or not. In general, graphoscopy is used mainly in areas such as criminalistics or judicial investigation.

The purpose of graphoscopy is to ensure that a certain person actually wrote or signed a specific text. Unlike graphoscopy, graphology is responsible for studying the personality or mood of the person who wrote the text.


Although throughout history many techniques have been developed to determine the authenticity of a document, the most used remain the same since the birth of the discipline: analysis, comparison and deduction.


  • 1 History of graphoscopy
    • 1.1 Rome, cradle of graphoscopy
    • 1.2 The figure of the expert
    • 1.3 Emergence of treaties on graphoscopy
  • 2 Principles of graphoscopy
  • 3 The 3 steps to determine the originality of a text
    • 3.1 Analysis
    • 3.2 Comparison
    • 3.3 Evaluation
  • 4 Differences with graphology
  • 5 References

History of graphoscopy

Since the appearance of the written texts, it has been of great importance to determine its veracity to avoid falsifications and frauds. Already in ancient Egypt, where writing was done through hieroglyphics, it has been discovered that some of these were manipulated to represent feats that never really took place.

Even in the Code of Hammurabi, one of the first texts written and dated between the XXII and XVIII centuries a. C., the fake symbols are mentioned. In particular, it warned of the penalties that would apply to those who falsified a slave mark.

Rome, cradle of graphoscopy

In general, in all ancient civilizations there were cases of fraud of this kind. In Rome Cicero denounced the famous general Marco Antonio for manipulating at will the orders of Julio Cesar to discredit him.

And it was also in ancient Rome that the technique of graphoscopy appeared, seeking the comparison of writings to determine the veracity of a document.

However, during the Middle Ages all the knowledge related to this discipline was lost, since in the judicial scope it was considered that the eyewitnesses had more credibility than the texts.

The figure of the expert

It was not towards the final period of the Middle Ages, in the thirteenth century, when an interest in graphoscopy re-emerged.

Under the reign of Alfonso X the Wise, the figure of the expert in problematic writings and documents was created for the first time. This profession was responsible for verifying the authenticity of the texts during judicial proceedings; Some of the techniques used at this time are used today.

In later centuries, with the rise of written texts, increasingly began to falsify more scriptures and signatures. In this way, between the sixteenth and nineteenth centuries, the figure of the calligraphic expert was regulated, a name that was granted to the graphenographers at that time.

Emergence of treaties on graphoscopy

Already in the nineteenth century, treaties on the techniques of graphoscopy emerged throughout Europe. For example, in France the manual appears The photographie judiciaire , by R. A. Reiss, and in Germany the book by Paul Jeserich is published Handbuch der Kriminalistiche photographie .

Also in this century, the Common Law admits the validity of certain graphoscopic techniques as evidence for judicial problems.

In 1929, Osborn systematized the grafoscopic techniques he had compiled from various sources, trying to add a scientific and more rigorous touch.

As of this moment, the graphoscopia was regularized, partly thanks to the foundation in 1950 of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences, one of the most important international associations of this discipline.

Principles of graphoscopy

Grafoscopy is based mainly on two ideas:

- Two people can not produce exactly the same type of writing.

- The same person does not have the same letter at all times, but there are natural variations in the way they write.

Therefore, the work of an expert in graphoscopy is to determine if two texts have been written by the same person, or by different people. The difficulty lies in determining if the differences between these two texts are due to the natural variations of the writing, or if on the contrary it is a forgery.

The 3 steps to determine the originality of a text

The process used to determine the veracity of a document has three parts: analysis, comparison and deduction.


The first step is to examine both the document that is being questioned and a sample of the person's true writing.

The graphs look for certain characteristics of their writing, such as the type of letter and the space between them, size and proportion, flourishes, and other elements.


The second step, the comparison, is to look for the most striking differences between the sample and the document to be examined.

In addition to the characteristics of the letters and the way of writing, the expert will also take into account elements such as grammar, sentence construction and punctuation.


Finally, in the evaluation, the graphs take all the evidence that is available and determines if the text is a forgery or, on the contrary, it is true.

Differences with graphology

Although graphology and graphoscopy are both based on the analysis of written texts and their characteristics, the two disciplines have different objectives and techniques.

- While graphoscopy is based on the study of a text to determine if it is a forgery or not, graphology consists in the analysis of the writing with the objective of studying the personality or the mood of the person who wrote it. drafted.

- Graphology is more used in areas such as psychology or therapy, since it is a method to know the personality traits of an individual. This technique can be used both with current texts and with older ones, in such a way that it is intended to know the characteristics of an important historical figure.

- In certain areas, graphology is considered an unreliable technique and the evidence it provides must be supported by conclusions drawn from other disciplines. However, graphoscopy can be used as conclusive evidence in a judicial process, so it is considered a more serious discipline.


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  2. "Grafoscopia"in: Academia. Retrieved on: February 27, 2018 from Academia:
  3. "The graphoscopy"in: I am a Criminalist. Retrieved on: February 27, 2018 from Soy Criminalista:
  4. "Grafoscopia at present"in: Forensic expression. Retrieved on: February 27, 2018 from Forensic Expression:
  5. "Grafoscopia, graphology and calligraphy"in: Lawyer and expert. Retrieved on: February 27, 2018 from Lawyer and expert:

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