Alteration, Obliteration, & Ink Examination

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  • 0:04 Alteration vs. Obliteration
  • 1:25 Ink Examination
  • 2:53 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Artem Cheprasov

Artem has a doctor of veterinary medicine degree.

This lesson is going to discuss obliteration and list the different kinds of document alterations there may be. You'll also learn how ink may be examined in an obliterated section of text.

Altering vs. Obliteration

You've probably written a note or letter by hand. It's also quite likely that as you wrote that letter, note, or essay by hand you made a mistake. What did you do? Did you start over on a new piece of paper? Did you use some Wite-Out? Did you just cross out the mistake and continue writing? Well, depending on your answer, you may have altered or obliterated part of your entry. What does this mean? Let's find out in this lesson on alteration, obliteration, and ink examination.

Any document can undergo what's generally termed a document alteration. Examples of document alterations include the following:

  • Erasures
  • Additional markings
  • Charring
  • Indented writing
  • Obliterations

Obliterations are accidental or purposeful instances where a section of writing or printing was overwritten with a substance. That substance may have been the same ink that was used for the original text, a different ink, or even a different substance altogether.

So let's go back to our example introductory letter. If you used the same pen to cross out your text, you obliterated it with the same ink. If you used a sharpie to overwrite it, you used a different ink. If you used Wite-Out to obliterate it, you used a different instrument altogether. You get the idea.

Ink Examination

So how would a document examiner be able to examine the overwritten ink for clues as to what was actually written originally? The ink examination technique really depends on what kind of obliterating agent was used, what kind of substance was used to write the original text, and what everything was written on. But let's look at a few ways by which a document examiner could examine the original ink.

For instance, the examiner could try chemical removal of the obliterating agent. In other words, it might be possible to dissolve away the overlying substance to see what's underneath. For instance, some types of markers used to obliterate text can be removed with methyl alcohol or ethyl alcohol. This will allow the examiner to see the original writing.

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