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September 10, 2004

Kern-el of truth

Okay, time for me to get into the amateur document analysis act.

One of the characteristics that the alleged forgeries exhibit is called kerning. This is a feature whereby two characters can be moved closer together than they ordinarily would if they "fit" properly. For example, the character pair WW needs to have a certain degree of spacing between them. The character pair AW, on the other hand, can be placed closer together, because the left-to-right slope of the right side of the A matches the left-to-right slope of the left side of the W. Computers can and do kern text. Typewriters are mechanically incapable of doing so.

The below is three letter-pairs. All three are taken from the alleged May 19, 1972 memo. In fact, all three are taken from the same sentence: "I told him he could do ET for three months or transfer."

As you can see, the pairs consist of a lowercase C, D, and F followed by a lowercase O. The blue lines are vertical. The lowercase O's are all lined up.

With the O's lined up, the C and the D line up, more or less. Actually, the C is slightly closer to its O than the D is, but it's not much of a difference. The FO pair, on the other hand, is kerned. The O fits under the overhang of the F, and so they're placed closer together. Although the F is about the same width as the C and the D, the left edge of the F is far offset from the left edges of the other two letters. In fact, the F's overhang actually overlaps its O by a little bit.

This wasn't done on a vintage 1972 typewriter.

September 10, 2004 in Election '04 | Permalink


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The Killian documents were not kerned. Overlapping of characters is a separate issue, and was something even mono-spaced typewriters could do (e.g. when using a "script" ball). I don't know whether any typewriters used an "overhanging" 'f' character, but it would not have been technically difficult.

Of course, whether the document /could/ have been produced using 1972 technology is irrelevant given that it so obviously /wasn't/.

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