Basic Fingerprint Patterns

The types of fingerprint patterns are plain arch, tented arch, radial loop, ulnar loop, double loop, accidental whorl, plain whorl, and central pocket whorls. That’s a total of eight print types.

Arches are found in about 5% of fingerprint patterns. The ridges run from one side of the pattern to the other, without making a backward turn. Plain arches have an even flow of ridges from one side to the other of the pattern, no significant up thrusts. The ridges of a tented arch show large up thrusts that create an angle resembling a tent. A subclass of arch prints called radial arches containing arches that slope toward the thumb. This also holds true for ulnar arches except the tilting is toward the little finger rather than the thumb.

Tented Arch

Plain Arch

Loops occur in about 60-70 % of fingerprint patterns. The ridges run straight then loop back on themselves in at least one part of the print. Radial loops are named after the radius bone in the forearm that connects to the hand on the same side as the thumb; therefore, the pattern in radial loops runs in toward the thumb. Radial loops are not very common and most of the time they are found on index fingers. Ulnar loops are named after the ulna, bone in the forearm. The ulna is on the same side as the little finger so the flow of an ulnar loop pattern runs toward the little finger.

Double Loop

Radial or Ulnar Loop (based on hand and finger)

Whorls are seen in about 25-35 % of fingerprint patterns and contained patterns that complete a circle- like shape at least once. Double loops consist of two separate and distinct loop formations. Accidental whorls consist of two different types of patterns with the exception of the plain arch and fail to meet the specifications for any other classification. Central pocket whorl ridges make one complete circuit which may be spiral, oval, circular or any variant of a circle. Plain whorls consist of one or more ridges which tend to make a complete circuit to form a circle resemblance. These differ from central pocket whorls because they are more uniform in pattern structure.
Central Pocket Whorl

Accidental Whorl

Plain Whorl


  1. I never knew that arches were so rare.

  2. Yeah, weird right? Loops are the most common but I would have thought arches would be easy to find. Let's just say if you have arches, don't commit a crime. You won't get too far. :)

  3. wow you gave such great information! the images correspond correctly and everything is neatly organized.
    well done