APPEARANCES can be deceptive, but handwriting never lies, explains graphologist Adam Brand.

From the curve of the letters, to the pressure of the stroke and line-spacing, every person's handwriting is unique and, as such, a nifty window into their personality, emptions, behaviour and thoughts.

It also reveals, unbeknown to the writer, the motivations that lie behind their actions.

"Handwriting is a behaviour, that's part of the cluster of characteristics that make up your personality," explains Adam, who trained with the British Institute of Graphologists. "Are they obstinate, energetic, forceful, loyal an extrovert? Do they have a tendency to procrastinate? But you have to very careful. It's absolutely critical you never say 'This means that' and always justify everything you find in your analysis."

We are all taught to write in a specific way at school, but as we grow up we gradually alter the shapes and sizes of letters in accordance with individual likes and dislikes.

The reason is simple: our personalities affect the way our handwriting develops. This is because handwriting is the pattern of our psychology expressed in symbols on the page and these symbols are as unique as our own DNA. So it is the deviations from the copybook which allow expert graphologists like Adam to assess someone's character, capabilities, qualities and potential shortcomings.

Graphology, which is routinely used in management selection, security checks, personality profiling and compatibility assessments, is a blend or science and art.

It is a science because it measures the structure and movement of the written forms: slants, angles and spacing are accurately calculated, the pressure closely analysed and magnified for better results. But it is also an art because a graphologist has to keep in mind the "total context" in which the writing is taking place. Context, essentially means never considering individual features, i.e. size, slant and margins, in isolation but in relation to one another.

It would be too simplistic to say that because someone has small writing they are timid, as small writing can also reflect characteristics such as being able to concentrate or a liking for privacy. A small script size, left slant, and wide right margin may suggest timidity, whereas small size, connected letters and steady baselines (the imaginary lines that letters rest on) indicate good concentration.

There are countless other examples.

For instance, when a child starts writing with a left slant (a style never taught) it signals they do not feel able to express their emotions openly. It may change again, but if it is retained as a permanent feature of their writing it shows that a wary attitude has become an ingrained characteristic.

As for the content of what is written, it is irrelevant to the graphologist. For handwriting analysis, the actual text should be as neutral and devoid of meaning as possible, Adam insists; ideally, a simple description of what the writer does before he or she leaves their home in the morning.

While most of us associate delicate or curly, large letter with feminine handwriting, writing does not show someone’s gender – or race and religion for that matter, though it may at times give a clue as to the person’s age. Looking at the signature in conjunction with their handwriting is crucial to get a full picture Adam, goes on. A signature makes a public statement and relates to someone’s image or how they would like other people to see them.

Sussing out people’s true motives, and separating the wheat from the chaff has become the Twickenham handwriting expert's bread and butter and he is regularly called upon by firms to evaluate candidates' script for tell-tale signs of posturing and dishonesty.

"They want to know the red flags, if the person is really who they say they are. It's all things they can't pick up on in an interview. It's a tricky one. But handwriting can say if you have a propensity to be dishonest." Paying close attention to the signature in such cases is key. If an applicant's signature contrasts with the rest of their writing they are likely to behave differently in their job from the way they appeared in the interview.

But graphology is not a tool to catch people out, Adam insists. In many way it is a celebration of individuality. After all, handwriting is essential to our sense of self and in fact, brain development. The rise of the digital age, laptops, phones and iPads is steadily making writing obsolete, he laments. And as the skill dies out, research has shown, we risk stunting children's brain development and with it their originality.

As a graphologist, Adam, who will give free handwriting analyses as part of National Handwriting Day at pen store Cross and Sheaffer at the Outlet today, is on a mission to revive and reclaim a waning tradition before it is too late.

"People say, 'Why do we bother when we've got computers?' But computers are not much use to our brain development. As writing declines scientists are realising how important it is. There are parts of the brain that only light up when you're writing and they don't if you just hit a keyboard. It's important to spatial orientation. You’ve got the mechanical side, of using muscles and joints as we write. And you've got all the psychological advantages. It teaches self-discipline, helps with concentration and self-confidence in social situations. It slows down the cognitive effects of aging. People just don't realise this."

The disappearance of cursive writing in favour of keyboards in our classrooms is "irresponsible," he says firmly.

"Reducing handwriting in schools particularly in schools is very damaging. People underestimate the benefits of handwriting. It's what makes us unique, it’s incredible. And we are losing it."


David Ashley, Swindon's panto dame

He enjoys being the centre of attention (very large size – 1) and wants to be accepted by others (rising stroke into the upper zone – 2). He has a good sense of humour (wavy ‘t’ bars – 3) and is versatile (slant changes – 4 on steady base lines). He enjoys physical activity and getting involved (very strong pressure, long lower zones and looped lower zone for the ‘p’ – 5) and can be stubborn to achieve what he wants (angled ovals – 6). He may have periods of anxiety (tall but narrow letters – 7) which cause him to take on too much (overlapping lines – 8) but he is fundamentally optimistic (rising lines – 9) and self reliant (underlined signature – 10).

Cllr Keith Williams, cabinet member for StreetSmart and sustainability

Although an outgoing and friendly person in public (right slant signature – 1) he shows signs of being frustrated by the status quo and wants to change things (wide word spacing – 2a in relation to the small height of the middle zone – 2b; angles in lower zone – 3; changing slants – 4; wavy left margin - 5). In his mind he will be quick to reject other people’s observations if they conflict with his own (forward down slanting ‘t’ bar – 6) but is sensitive to what people think about him (open ‘t’ and ‘d’ stems – 7) so will make every effort to do a good job (heavy pressure).

Anna Friend, artistic director of Quirky Bird Theatre in Royal Wootton Bassett

She is kind and helpful and adaptable in a crisis (right slant – 1; curved letter connections – 2; flowing supple rhythm). She is a clear thinker who can grasp ideas quickly (pointed tops to letters) and who will emphasise discipline and objectivity (wide line spacing – 3; upright signature – 4). She may be working too hard as there are signs of tiredness in the writing (medium pressure but falling base lines – 5).

North Swindon MP Justin Tomlinson

He is more of a project person than a people person (small writing with a left slant – 1). He is intelligent (small and legible), well-organised with an ability carefully to assess an enormous amount of information and acquire new skills (regular slant angle -2; even letter height; clear spacing). He is very determined to do a good job (rising base lines – 3 plus heavy pressure and long lower zones – 4). He constantly checks himself (narrowing left margin – 5) but is independent in his decision-making (lean writing with no initial starting strokes; truncated end strokes; disconnected letters).