How easy is it to get "readable" fingerprints on paper?

Writing a mystery-type story, and trying to figure out the clues. I have a possibility, but need to know: how easy is it to get readable fingerprints on normal typing/printing paper? I know from what layman research I’ve been able to find online that it’s harder than one might think to do so, since people’s hands are usually dry and clean. What conditions would need to exist? How much sweat would need to be present to get prints, generally? Is my impression that, all things being equal, that the odds of people leaving fingerprints on paper is better than their odds of doing so, accurate?

Any information that would help me figure out how viable my clue is would be appreciated. :slight_smile: Thanks!

Not sure but there was an old episode of Columbo in which a similar matter came up.
The murderer,wearing gloves, removed a piece of paper from the printer and put it under the dead mans hand.
Columbo was confused as to how the victimes fingerprints were only on one side of the paper when both sides have to be touched in order to pick a piece of paper up.

So if the Columbo writers got it right then it seems that fingerprints on paper is easy.
Or they may have gotten it wrong.

Just one more thing…

The FBI don’t give a clue but they do have terrific resources like The Handbook of Forensic Services that may prove helpful.

You can get great fingerprints off glossy magazine and ad-insert paper, but you can get recognizable fingerprints off of newpaper.
To try it, go to your car and rub two fingers over the tread to get oily dirt, then roll a print onto newspaper. Lots of broken lines, but you can easily tell your two fingers apart.


Leaper is clearly asking about latent prints, ristrance.

It is possible to “develop” latent prints on paper using chemical sprays, dips, etc. This is a different process than the “dusting” method used for hard surfaces. There have been different methods described, one of which is described by the inventors here.

I think the OP was asking about non-inked fingers, ristrance. :smiley:

The foremost fingerprint expert in the US if not the world lives in Tennessee. He can get fingerprints off of almost anything including skin. He developed a process using Instant Glue to develop hard to record prints. If he can’t get the print no one else can either.

Did you know that children do not leave fingerprints that last more than a few days at most. No oily residue from their perspiration. Moms with little ones leaving prints on windows etc. might think otherwise.

The simple fact is it depends what the perp did. If he killed a cop or the President of the U.S., they would grab a face print off a pillow. If someone breaks into your house and goes through your underwear, the cops are going to try and print glass or good metal for latents. It’s not CSI, they don’t always employ all the goodies. Trust me…

Your OP reminded me of a forensic show I saw on cable several months back, concerning Archbishop Valerian (Trifa) of Romania. After WWII he emigrated to the U.S. and became a priest in the Romanian Orthodox Church. Eventually he was elevated to the status of Archbishop and worked in N.Y. Buzz started that he had been a Nazi in WWII (more specifically, a member of the Iron Guard in Romania, which oversaw the deaths of many people), which he vehemently and repeatedly denied. Writings of a member of the Iron Guard named Trifa were compared to those of the Archbishop with some concluding they were one in the same. The thing that finally caught him was a single fingerprint found on a postcard that identified the Nazi and the Archbishop as one and the same.