Before a Forensic Document Examiner develops an appropriate opinion for his/her client following a signature or handwriting examination, consideration is given to whether the questioned and known specimens relied upon were original or photocopies, the number of known handwriting specimens provided, how closely dated the known specimens were dated to the questioned writing, etc. Document examiners commonly use one of nine opinions related to signature or handwriting comparisons; Identification, Highly Probable (did write), Probable (did write), Indications (did write), Inconclusive, Indications (did not write), Probable (did not write), Highly Probable (did not write), and Elimination.
Although commonly overlooked, indented writing may be of significant value in resolving questioned document issues. As the term implies, indented writing is the non-visible indentations or images applied to a sheet of paper positioned below the page actually written upon. The indentations may be made visible by rubbing with a crayon or the side of a pencil, however, it is a destructive process not used by forensic document examiners. A specialized laboratory instrument is used by document examiners to recover indented writing. The process is non-destructive, leaving no marks on the document. An image is produced providing tangible evidence of the continuity, or non-continuity, of entries made in a journal, medical record, accounting book, etc. A qualified document examiner will have the instrumentation and knowledge of techniques appropriate to a variety of document issues.