Fingerprint Impression Types


Rolled impressions are the ten individually taken fingerprint images rolled from nail to nail. The plain impressions are used to verify the sequence and accuracy of the rolled impressions.


Identification flat impressions are taken simultaneously without rolling. These are referred to as plain, slap, or flat impressions. The individual’s right and left four fingers should be captured first, followed by the two thumbs (4-4-2 method). Instituting this finger capture method ensures the highest level of fingerprint sequence accuracy.

Fingerprinting Process

  • The recommended height for recording legible fingerprints is approximately 39 inches from the floor. This allows the forearm of an average adult to be parallel with the floor. This is the recommended position to record fingerprints.
    • When capturing fingerprints electronically, ensure the live scan fingerprint device is properly calibrated and the platen is free of dust, dirt, and any residual fingerprint images.
  • Instruct the individual to look away from the fingerprint device, not to assist in the fingerprint process, and to relax. Grasp the individual’s right hand at the base of the thumb with your right hand. Cup your hand over the individual’s fingers, tucking under those fingers not being printed. Guide the finger being printed with your left hand.
  • When taking the rolled impression, the side of the finger bulb is placed upon the platen. The finger is then rolled to the other side until it faces the opposite direction. Care should be exercised so the bulb of each finger, from tip to below the first joint, is rolled evenly. Generally, the weight of the finger is the maximum pressure needed to clearly record a fingerprint. To take advantage of the natural movement of the forearm, the hand should be rotated from the more difficult position to the easiest position. This requires the thumbs be rolled toward and the fingers away from the center of the individual’s body. Roll each finger from nail to nail in the appropriate space.
  • For a Type-4, plain impressions are typically printed last. The technician simultaneously presses the individual’s four fingers (of the right hand), keeping the fingers together on the surface of the live scan device (at a 45-degree angle) to capture all four fingers in the allotted space. Repeat this process for the left hand and then print both thumbs. Type-14 capture protocol requires the technician to simultaneously press the individual’s four fingers on the surface of the live scan device at a 90-degree vertical angle. Repeat this process for the left hand and then print both thumbs simultaneously (4-4-2 method).

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