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An Introduction to Graphology

What is Graphology?

Graphology - the study of handwriting and handwriting analysis - is now an accepted and increasingly used technique for assessment of people in organisations. 

  • Handwriting analysis is an effective and reliable indicator of personality and behaviour, and so is a useful tool for many organisational processes, for example, recruitment, interviewing and selection, team-building, counselling, and career planning.
Please note that whilst handwriting analysis had some support from the scientific community in the mid-twentieth century, recent research suggests that there is no scientific evidence-base for its reliability. 

This is a free introductory guide to graphology and a free handwriting analysis tool pdf. download, with examples of techniques that graphologists and handwriting analysis experts use to analyse a person's personality from a sample of handwriting.

This free article is contributed by Elaine Quigley BA Hons., MBIG Dip, a leading expert graphologist, and chair of the British Institute of Graphologists.

Elaine describes graphology is 'brainwriting' - the handwriting comes directly from the writer in a uniquely personal and individual way, irrespective of how the person has been taught to write: an expert graphologist understands the styles of the different countries and languages and makes allowances for 'taught' influences. Also largely irrelevant to the actual analysis is the content of the written text.

Graphology uses at least 300 different handwriting features in its investigative approach. The graphologist's interpretation skill is in the psychological art of understanding the particular blend of handwriting features - an expert is able to see the writer 'step off the page'.

Theory and History

A person's handwriting - the script - and its placing on the page express the unique impulses of the individual: 

  • logically, the brain sends signals along the muscles to the writing implement they control. By examining a handwriting sample, an expert graphologist is able to identify relevant features of the handwritten script, and the way the features interact. 
  • The features, and interaction between them, provide the information for the analysis. (No single handwriting sample will exhibit all 300 different features of course - a typical analysis will involve far less).

No single handwriting feature proves anything specific or absolute by itself; a single feature alone can only identify a trend. It is the combination of features, and the interaction between them that enable a full and clear interpretation.

Graphology is actually very old and used to be respected - the study of handwriting and its analysis was first developed by the Chinese 3,000 years ago. The Romans used graphology, and through the centuries since then various civilisations and cultures have analysed handwriting to identify the essence of the person who produced it.

The modern approach to handwriting analysis was established by a group of French clerics, led by Abbe Michon, who defined key aspects of the science in the 1870s, after 30 years of study. This work formed the basis of modern graphology, although the science is still being researched and expanded today.

Professional graphologists operate to a strict code of ethics, and these experts are constantly in demand; those who use it recognise its value in the workplace as an additional method of understanding character. It is therefore an extremely useful tool in identifying the quality and capacity of an individual's talents and potential, particularly in career guidance and improving relationships. Like other powerful behavioural or intuitive models, it is not easy to explain how and why graphology works, nevertheless, it continues to be used, respected and appreciated by many because it achieves a high level of results.

Handwriting Features

As previously stated there are around 300 features - this introductory article attempts to explain some of the basic ones that can be readily understood and which give interesting information.


Right slant indicates a response to communication, but not how it takes place

  • For example, the writer may wish to be friendly, manipulative, responsive, intrusive, to sell, to control, to be loving, supportive, just to name some possibilities.
  • If the handwriting is generally upright, this indicates independence.

A left slant tendency shows emotion and reserve. This writer needs to be true to self first and foremost and can be resentful if others try to push for more commitment from them.


Handwriting is made up of three zones - or cases - middle, upper and lower. A basic average measure - or benchmark - by which size can be judged is 3mm per zone. This gives a benchmark for a non-remarkable full height of 9mm. More than this is large; less than this is small.

  • Large size handwriting can mean extravert and outgoing, or it can mean that the writer puts on an act of confidence, although this behaviour might not be exhibited to strangers.
  • Small size can, logically, mean the opposite. Small size handwriting can also indicate a thinker and an academic, depending upon other features in the script.

If the writing is small and delicate, the writer is unlikely to be a good communicator with anyone other than those on their own particular wavelength. These people do not generally find it easy to break new ground socially.


Heavy pressure indicates commitment and taking things seriously, but if the pressure is excessively heavy, that writer gets very uptight at times and can react quickly to what they might see as criticism, even though none may have been intended. These writers react first and ask questions afterwards.

Light pressure shows sensitivity to atmosphere and empathy to people, but can also, if the pressure is uneven, show lack of vitality.

Upper Zone or Case (as in l, t, h, etc.)

Tall upper strokes are reaching towards goals and ambitions or, if they are very extended, there may be unrealistic expectations of what the person feels they must achieve.

  • If there are reasonably proportioned upper zone loops, this indicates someone who likes to think things through and use their imagination in a sensible way. 
  • Wider upper zone loops indicate more of a tendency to dream up ideas and mull them over.

If the up-stroke goes up and then returns on top of itself, the writer may be squeezing out imagination and keeping to the basic requirement of getting down to the job in hand.

Lower Zone (as in g, y, p, etc)

Lower loops are also varied and have different meanings.

  • For example, a straight stroke shows impatience to get the job done.
  • A 'cradle' lower stroke suggests avoidance of aggression and confrontation.
  • A full loop with heavy pressure indicates energy/money-making/sensuality possibilities, subject to correlation with other features.
  • A full lower loop with light pressure indicates a need or wish for security.

If there are many and varied shapes in the lower zone, the writer may feel unsettled and unfocused emotionally. Again the handwriting analyst would look for this to be indicated by other features in the script.

Word Spacing

The benchmark by which to judge wide or narrow spacing between words is the width of one letter of the person's handwriting.

  • Wide spaces between words are saying - 'give me breathing space'.
  • Narrow spaces between words indicate a wish to be with others, but such writers may also crowd people and be intrusive, notably if the writing lacks finesse.

Line Spacing

Handwriting samples are always best on unlined paper, and particularly for exhibiting line-spacing features.

  • Wide-spaced lines of handwriting show a wish to stand back and take a long view.
  • Closely spaced lines indicates that that the writer operates close to the action. For writers who do this and who have writing that is rather loose in structure, the discipline of having to keep cool under pressure brings out the best in them.

Page Margins

The sides of the page each have a meaning.

  • The left side margin shows the roots and beginnings/family.
  • The right side shows other people and the future.
  • The top is goals and ambitions.
  • The foot of the page shows energy, instincts and practicality.

Therefore margins are very informative.

If the writer has a wide left margin, the interest is in moving on. If it is narrow, caution and wanting to avoid being pushed before they are ready is indicated.

  • Narrow right margin shows impatience and eagerness to get out there and on with things.
  • Wide right margin shows that there may be some fear of the unknown.

Middle Zone or Case (as in a, c, e, etc.)

These middle zone shapes can give some particularly interesting information.

  • The middle zone in the script represents the ego - from it, we get a lot of information as to how the writer feels and acts in public settings - what makes them tick socially and at work.
  • Some people's handwriting consists of only one single style, but many people will have a mixture of two handwriting styles or more.

Again this provides useful information.

All of these features have potentially positive and negative connotations; the analyst uses the flow and facility (ease, smoothness) of the script to infer a positive or negative interpretation.


This means that the middle zone of the writing is humped and rounded at the top like a series of arches. 

  • It is in the basic style of copy-book, though it is not taught in all schools. Writers who use this can be loyal, protective, independent, trustworthy and methodical, but negatively they can be secretive, stubborn and hypocritical when they choose. The most important characteristic is group solidarity against outsiders.


Garland is like an inverted 'arcade' and is a people-orientated script. 

  • These writers make their m's, n's and h's in the opposite way to the arcade writer, like cups, or troughs, into which people can pour their troubles or just give information. 
  •  The Garland writer enjoys being helpful and likes to be involved.


The angled middle zone is the analytical style, the sharp points, rather than curves, give the impression of probing.

  • The angle writer, is better employing talents at work and for business or project purposes, rather than nurturing, which is the strength of the garland writer.

As with any indicators of personality style, the interpretation doesn't mean that each writer needs to be categorised and prevented or dissuaded from spreading their talents and interests, but the analysis can helpfully show where the person's strengths can be best employed.


Thread handwriting is like unravelled wool, waiting to be made up into something fresh. 

  • These writers are mentally alert and adaptable, but can also be elusive and lack patience. 
  • They are responders, rather than initiators. They can be very clever at drawing together strands of information and making something of them. 
Therefore they observe and bide their time so that decisions are made at the most appropriate moment.


Wavyline handwriting is often an amalgam of all or most of the other forms and is usually written by people who are mentally mature and skilful. 

  • It shows that they can call on a variety of responses, to suit the occasion and indicates good coping mechanisms. 
  • They are adaptable and resourceful.


These features and interpretations provide a small but useful guide as to the way people behave, and particularly how they handle their social requirements. Check your own handwriting against these pointers to see what you can learn or confirm about yourself, and see also how effective even just a few simple graphology techniques can be in revealing personality style.

Understanding the personality through handwriting is a valuable way of making the best of both personal awareness and interpersonal situations for the benefit of all concerned.

The aim of using graphology to analyse a person's handwriting must always be positive. The interpretation should enable people analysed to use the understanding gained, to help them live their lives to the highest level of satisfaction that they choose. In a professional or organizational context, graphology can play an important part in enabling working relationships to be forged that will enhance the quality of the group or team performance.

As a child, you were taught to write, but it's not likely that you still write in the way you were taught. The fact that you don't help to explain the reason graphology exists and why graphology can be used to interpret personality.


Elaine Quigley BA Hons., MBIG (Dip) is a leading graphologist, psychologist and past chairman of the British Institute of Graphologists. (She now edits the Insitute's journal). Elaine offers advice for staff selection, counselling, lecturing, exhibition presentations, public speaking, and for TV, radio and newspaper articles. Elaine's background in dealing with individual clients and national companies has given her the flexibility and experience to provide valuable support in decision-making and interpersonal perception.

Elaine Quigley is offering a special introductory price analysis of your handwriting for £50. This is a special offer to visitors of this page, so please mention the businessballs website if you contact Elaine to arrange your analysis.

The contribution of this article is gratefully acknowledged. If you'd like to find out more or arrange handwriting analysis please contact Elaine Quigley direct.

Elaine Quigley BA Hons., MBIG (Dip) - email:

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© Elaine Quigley text 2004-8, Alan Chapman edit and contextual material 2004-2010