Obama–A Look at the Personality Behind the Handwriting

~~Posted by InsightAnalytical-GRL

Graphology is now widely used to tell about the mind that is behind a person’s handwriting. Handwriting analysis is sometimes used by psychologists and psychiatrists as another tool to help in diagnosis of a patient. Testimony from experts is admissible in courts of law when documents are under question. Experts are also called into criminal cases; in fact, an acquaintance of mine in the UK assisted on a case involving a serial murderer, helping the police get into the mind of the perpetrator,  which led to his capture.

I’ll tell you upfront, I am NOT an expert handwriting analyst. Years ago I studied for a short time with a forensic handwriting specialist and expert witness.  And I continued with a great deal of self-study for several years. HOWEVER, that doesn’t make me an expert! But, there are certain basics in handwriting that can give general clues about someone’s basic drives and personality and hopefully, this overview will make some of them clearer. My intention is NOT to come to a conclusion about Obama, but rather, to lay out some of the indicators of his personality in his writing that the reader can mull over. For many of the specifics, I dove into my collection of books on the topic…I certainly couldn’t do all of this off the top of my head!

I took a look at Barack Obama’s handwriting using the note he left at the Western Wall while in Israel (The King David note) and one written on July 23, 2008 (no letterhead), as well as a signature on some of the campaign literature that has been pouring in.  It is impossible to do a truly complete analysis since we are not looking at originals which would show pressure and other characteristics of the handwriting. But we can find out quite a bit from the samples we have.

So, here goes. First, here’s an image of Western Wall note (The King David sample) that was attributed to Obama.   I worked from a copy that I enlarged to 8″ X 10″ inches.  I looked at the video of Obama placing the note in the wall and he appeared to force it a bit as he tried to get it into a crevice…the note I see has clear, rectangular fold lines and doesn’t look like it was “crimped,” so whether the note is real or note could be questioned.  I’m assuming the the July 23 2008 page is real since the signature looks like the one on the campaign literature. The clues in the handwriting do seem to relate to the Obama we’ve been seeing.

Here is the note placed at the Western Wall (click here for the story and a picture of Obama placing the note):

And, the signature:

And here is the second sample with a better example of Obama’s signature (probably written hurriedly) from the guestbook at Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust memorial (The July 23 sample).


Here are some of the specific elements that I’ve examined; these are standard items frequently used in assessing a writing sample.

MarginsThe two samples show contradictory characteristics.  The one sample shows a straight left margin which is the norm.  The left margin represents the “line of society.”  The margin in the sample written on The King David stationery is uneven. An uneven left margin indicates a lack of conformity to society’s standards, not fitting into structure.  Generally, an uneven left margin can indicate hostility, one who gets out of line or someone who can’t discipline themselves to “stay in line.”  However, in this case, perhaps Obama was trying to write as if he were writing “verse” or poetry, a stanza-like presentation. More samples would be helpful in evaluating this characteristic.  One more thing to note in the King David sample…the line which runs to the edge of the right side (“instrument”). If this showed up a couple of times on a page, it would indicate impulsiveness and that the person may not learn from his mistakes.  We’d have to see more samples to ascertain if Obama really has this problem.

Lean/Angle of Slant— Slant or the horizontal movement of the writing and represents the outer display of personality, social development, and external orientation. It indicates the degree to which a person reveals their real emotional feelings to others. Obama’s writing is basically vertical. This style is associated with control and formality, a suppression of feelings.  It is also associated with diplomacy and “head over heart.” It represents orientation to the present, a concern for self, and sometimes indifference.

UPDATE: Obama, I’m told IS left-handed, according to a commentator.  But, according to what I have researched just now, regardless of handedness, a writer will still produce a slant that accurately describes the person’s ability to express his true social nature.

Pressure/Force–Since we only have access to copies of Obama’s writing, it’s hard to ascertain the pressure he uses.  However, it seems that Obama selected a pen that created a thick line, a possible preference.  Thick strokes indicate vitality and a person who looks for many ways to use their energies. Sometimes they can become so involved with what they are doing that they can forget future obligations.

Beginning and Ending Strokes–The absence of strokes leading into the first letter of the words indicates quickness in action.  As for ending strokes, which are an indicator of how the person relates to others or to his own goals, notice the long extensions on words, for example, in The King David note–“me,” and, “against,”  “just,” etc.–and in the July 23 sample– “remarkable,” “we,” “individuals”…etc.  Many ending strokes in the samples are strong, straight lines, and, as mentioned, long. Strong endings in general represent a strong drive for activity and the surrounding environment. Sometimes prolonged endings can mean the person has tenacity, a desire for conquest and shows extravagance…or keeping others at a distance. Or sometimes they just are there to take up space!

Connectives–These are strokes that connect letters together.  They can indicate a writer’s social attitudes and mental capabilities. Obama’s writing shows a mix of garlands and angles.  The garlands, as illustrated by the word “all” in the first line of the 23 July text, indicates sociability. The angles look like sharp, v-shaped forms long the bottom of their writing.  Analytical, sharp, capable of making quick decisions, this form suggests coldness. The overall connected style can indicate a rational, persistent character which can also manifest as a sense of calculation and strategy, the ability to plan to move ahead.

Baseline and ZonesHow straight a person writes reflects mood–how a person handles the mixture of intellectual, social, and emotional drives. The baseline marks the line between the basic drives of the lower zone (unconscious drives, biological and sensual needs, the past) and the social needs and everyday concerns of the middle zone (including the present, action, emotional expression, realistic expression of the ego) and the concerns of the upper zone, which involve the imagination and the intellect (including the future, fantasy, spiritual, intellectual and cultural aspirations, concepts). Evaluating handwriting and the zones is very complicated so I’m just going to mention a couple of things that jump out at me.

First, the baseline, which represents the “balancing act” between the zones. The slope of the line is fairly straight…self-controlled and steady. In the July 23 sample there is a very slight rise to the writing, particularly in the first 3 lines. A slight rise can reveal the person’s ambition, optimism and energy and restlessness. On the King David letter where Obama writes about his family and his sins in the first few lines, we see a slight downward slope. A downward slope can reveal a more sensitive, gloomier feeling. As soon as he starts talking about guarding “against pride and despair” the line straightens out again—under control.

There is one word that varies significantly from the baseline…the word “world” in the July 23 letter. It seems to rise and fall in an arch shape. It may mean that that word created a moment of confusion to the writer.

Measuring the letters to ascertain which zone is dominant takes more expertise (and time!) than I have, but there are some characteristics that stand out.

Lower Zone letter specifics

First, the lower case “g” loops, with the letter being made in what seems to be a “figure 8” stroke. The figure 8 reflects an ability to adapt, quick thought, intellectual flexibility and good intuition. But the actual loop is often huge and out of proportion with the rest of the writing. Exaggerated loops can indicate a bottled-up feelings, excessive emotional need, and showing off. (Also see the “j” loop in the word “just.”) Some of the p’s are clearly retraced (July 23 sample—“responsible,” “promise,” “proclaim”and “help” in the King David sample)—retracing loops, when the down and upstrokes overlap as one, reveals an emotional inhibition or the person feeling guarded in freely expressing his feelings. (Also an “f” –“strife” in the July 23 sample.)

Note the lower case “y’s” with the straight line thrusting down. The “y” indicates the writer’s sexual habits and abilities as well as attitudes toward money and possessions and security (including personal esteem and sense of belonging). The straight lines in the samples are just that …normal, without any bizarre twists or reversed lines. In general, we can say that the straight line down indicates determination and aggressiveness and sometimes defensiveness. Another view is that they indicate dislike and avoidance of elaboration.

Middle Zone letter specifics

The main thing I noticed here was the fluctuation in letter size, which is an indication of the stability of the person’s moods. A combination of large and small letters in the same word and line can be a flag for emotional volatility. This makes the person hard to understand and get along with and can point to inconsistencies in the way a person reacts. (Too much fluctuation in any zone can mean problems dealing with emotional stimuli.) Here in the middle zone, the zone of the present, action and everyday concerns and social life, we see a great deal of fluctuation in letter size. In the Kind David sample, note words like “Protect,” “and,” “ help,” “guard,” “pride,” “despair” (the d’s are smaller than other letters), “make.” And you can find similar fluctuation all through the July 23 sample, like “responsible,” “remarkable,” institution,” etc.

“D” stems are very interesting and show quite a bit of variation. (This is something that can relate to the Upper Zone, but I’m discussing it here because of the “base” in the middle zone.) There are a lot of short stems which can show a shrewd personality. But note the very short, retraced stems in the words “pride” and “deception” in the King David sample—and in the July 23 sample, the words “reminder,” “perished,” “dreamed,” “individuals”—perhaps indicating deflated-ego problems.

Ovals in letters like a, o, d, and g—Obama’s ovals are largely closed which shows discretion, tact and diplomacy in any revelations he may make verbally.

The “b.” See the words “remarkable,” “blessed,” “remember,” and “symbols” in the July 23 sample. It’s open at the baseline, an indicator of possible hypocrisy or dishonesty.

Upper Zone letter specifics

There are some letters with some upper loops that seem “looser’ and more swollen than most of the other letters in the upper zone. These include the “l’s we see in the first line of the July sample and the words “proclaimed,” “loved” and “like” near the end, and the words “family” at the start and “will” at the end of the King David sample. They may reveal liking an audience. Or an inflated view of the writer’s own importance and an extroverted feeling.

The t’s. The “t” is one of the most important letters for analysis and the “t-bar” (the line crossing the “t”) indicates how a person’s will power and drive are expressed in life.

First of all, Obama’s writing shows a mixture of t-bars, which can indicate conflicting goals and confusion in thought and action.

First, there are many instances where the “t” has no top crossing at all; some at the end even look like “L’s.” See words like “but,” “capacity,” “Let,” and “spirit” in the July 23 sample and “Protect,” “against,” “what,” “right,” “just,” and “instrument” in the King David note. No crossing can be due to something as simple as being hurried, careless or being absent-minded or it can indicate rebelliousness or some feeling of being down, according to some experts.

There are a number of “t’s” which connect to other letters in a “stick-figure” stroke, as in the word “to” and words like “institution,” “time,” “history,” etc. The crossings are in the middle of the “t” stem. Overall, this form indicates emotions kept under control, a direct approach and the ability to make quick decisions and some calculation. Maturity and independence are other possible characteristics. In addition, this person prefers action rather than reaction.

Then there are the “t’s” that connect to other letters and which have a “triangular” formation to the left of the stem. Words in the July 23 sample with this formation include “those,” “this,” “this (history),” “that,” “they,” and in the King David sample, “the” and “to.” The triangle represents an obstinate, determined person; some analysts describe it as a sign of being unwilling to accept responsibility. A left-pointing triangle, in general, can also point to feeling hostility to life event that have already occurred–the attitude can be bitter and the person may feel like he was treated unfairly.

Signature–Whereas the body of writing represents what a person really is, a signature represents the ego, but even more. A person’s signature represents what a person wants someone else to think of him/her.  If a signature is much different from rest of writing, then that’s an indication that the person has an unrealistic self-image or that their public image is nothing like their private behavior.  Obama’s signature is different from his controlled, vertical writing which denotes coolness. It’s obvious that Obama uses over-inflated capital letters. The bigger the letter, the bigger the pride…or, a compensation for a feeling of smallness. He wants to stand out in public and call attention to himself. His writing his legible but his signature is pretty much illegible apart from the capitals.   While he wants to communicate his thoughts, the illegible portions of the signature is another indicator of someone who doesn’t want to really communicate who is he IS—it’s a hint of secrecy.  Some texts say that illegible portions of a signature can indicate self-effacement or even hostility to toward that specific part of the name.

In other words, he has a very “theatrical” signature. Obama wants to communicate his thoughts but not his identity.

The Capital “I” The personal pronoun “I” is another indicator of the writer’s ego, self-worth and self-image.  We have only one example in the two samples. The printed “I” is slanted to the left. A printed letter standing out from otherwise cursive writing indicates a desire to stand out as well as clear thinking.  If Obama is right-handed, then the left lean would be hard to write…again indicating some reserve or defensiveness. If the “I” is simply reclining, it can mean personal conflict.


There are many more aspects of Obama’s writing that could be examined, but this look should give the reader a sense of what’s going on and what issues seem to come up most often.


Some of the books I used for reference include:

A Dictionary of Graphology—The A-Z of Your Personality (Gloria Hargreaves & Peggy Wilson)

The Analysis of Handwriting: Personality and Character (Diane Simpson, my UK contact)

Handwriting Analysis: The Complete Basic Book (Karen Amend & Mary S. Ruiz)

Handwriting Analysis Self-taught (Joel Engel)

Handwriting Analysis: Putting It to Work for You (Andrea McNichol with Jeffrey A. Nelson)

There is also an analysis I found online which might be of interest and there is more fascinating information in a comment by a handwriting expert.  This piece is at AmericanWantstoKnow.com.