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Book Review: Scientific Examination of Documents: Methods and Techniques, Fourth Edition

Scientific Examination of Documents: Methods and Techniques, Fourth Edition. By David Ellen, Stephen Day, and Christopher Davies, CRC Press;; 266 pages, $160.

0321-BookReview-Scientific-Examination-of-Documents.jpgOver the past few decades, the field of scientific document examination has seen many changes: new analytic techniques and innovations in creating documents. The fourth edition of Scientific Examination of Documents: Methods and Techniques looks at traditional methods and innovations in this field of study.

This resource explains the many techniques and types of equipment examiners use for analyzing handwriting and its interpretation, collecting handwriting samples, how to detect when handwriting or printing has been erased, and additional methods to uncover whether a document has been altered. It also explores the characteristics of fax, photocopy, and printing, and how to use the scientific method in examining them.

A good reference for established professionals in the field of scientific document examination, it is also useful for those entering this field, legal professionals, and investigators, especially those tasked with investigations that involve documents, documentation, or questioned signatures. It will help readers understand the science behind document examination.

For centuries physical documents have been at the forefront in securing financial transactions, legal agreements, medical diagnoses, security post orders, car rentals, and more. As handwriting is disappearing from many facets of business, it is nonetheless still utilized in various aspects of our lives, both personal and professional. Document examination is an important tool for the investigator, lawyer, and forensic scientist in an inquiry or investigation.

For readers who are curious about handwriting analysis, what techniques are implemented by document examiners to bring out a document’s unique characteristics, or how this knowledge can further investigations, this resource will satisfy that curiosity. A gallery of references for additional reading supports those looking to dive even deeper.

Reviewer: Michael White, CPP, is founder and president of the Michael White Group International. He brings his expertise in forensic security, security, and risk management to assist private organizations, government entities and high-profile public figures in mitigating risk, enhancing their security profile, and preparing for emergencies.