2018 November SAFE Seminar

Speaker: Thomas Phinney      thefontdetective.com

Date:        November 19, 2018

Time:        4:00 PM PST, 7:00 PM EST,

00:00 GMT November 20, 2018

Topic:        Font ID & Questioned Documents


Two cases involving world leaders provide a useful look at how backdated documents can be revealed by font identification. Font ID can be dispositive even under conditions that would not be adequate for most other analyses—even as far as faxed documents. Phinney explains how unique font spacing can provide a fingerprint for ID purposes, as seen in the Bush case and later memorialized in his patent (#7720318, assigned to Adobe).

Font identification is not without many pitfalls, however. Classification of some fonts can be challenging, and there is no single standard system for it, making description a safer approach. Finally, some of the world’s most common fonts, such as Calibri and Times, have complicated timelines involving multiple versions (the “pre-release availability” of Calibri is a tricky subject even for experts). Along the way, Phinney shares definitive dates in Calibri versions and availability, and provides resources for font identification.


Thomas Phinney is The Font Detective (thefontdetective.com), as well as CEO of FontLab, the company whose font design tools are behind most of the world’s retail fonts. He is a type designer (Adobe Original Hypatia Sans, Cristoforo), and has four patents and a medal. His expert witness clients have included a “big three” auto maker and a major California city. He has been consulted on questioned documents by The Washington Post, The Dallas Morning News, PBS television’s History Detectives, BBC News, NPR, the US Treasury, and many others.