He opens a folder and extracts a sheet of paper. Taking a large magnifying glass he narrows his eyes and roams the script. Mike Maran is a graphologist, analysing handwriting and signatures to ascertain character traits and detect fraud.

He is the only graphologist advertising his skills in Auckland and for the past 25 years  has examined documents for private detectives, insurance companies and lawyers.

"I started reading books about it. Then I practiced on my family and friends. It is scientific, it comes from your brain and flows to pen and paper," says Mr Maran, who gained a diploma in the craft from the American Association of Handwriting Analysis.

"It was established by French monks in the 17th century and in Germany you can get a degree in graphology."

Each week Mr Maran receives documents ranging from "malicious letters" to issues with wills and forgery.

"People get themselves into all sorts of terrible tangles. You wouldn't believe what's out there," he says.

"In some instances I've had to go to the High Court or Small Claims Court. If the outcome's successful and I've contributed to that then that's a real highlight."

Recently, the graphologist managed to identify an employee sending hate mail to their employer and helped clear a man of credit card fraud.

Graphology works by assessing various aspects of an individual's handwriting, from the slant, to the size and spacing of the letters, to literally the way one  dots Is and crosses Ts.

The Aucklander took along a hand-written submission to a local board for Mr Maran to assess.

Picking up his magnifying glass to exaggerate the font, he pauses over certain sections, commenting as he goes.

"Whoever this person is, they're a little bit mentally unstable. Because their writing goes into capitals; some of it's connected, some of it's not.

"The margins are quite wide," he says switching his magnifying glass for a calliper to measure distance.

"So they probably like a lot of room and space to themselves. The I dots show they have quite a good memory.

"They have a sense of humour, but it may not be to everyone's liking," he says, handing the paper back.

He explains although a lot of documents he receives are photocopies, pen pressure can be a tell-tale sign of a person's level of enthusiasm.

"To me, looking at writing is like looking at a piece of art. It's how you write it," says Mr Maran, who also runs a small garden tours company.

"I can also pick up minor health issues but I can't tell between genders."

As well as corporate work, Mr Maran has taken his unique skill to mind, body and spirit events and runs demonstrations for local clubs.

"It's an unusual topic. People are always curious about their own character. But sometimes you tell people about their character and they'll deny it."

Asked if he's rejigged his own handwriting he laughs and denies the suggestion.

"But I do have a look at it and might say, 'Oh. I'm a bit worried about something'."

Off the Script

Mike Maran offers free graphology demonstrations for clubs and is available for corporate services.

Phone (09) 846 5350