Henry Fingerprint Classification System: Key, Major, Primary, Secondary, Subsecondary and Final

In Henry’s fingerprint classification system, there are 6 main divisions with 3 common extensions. Primary, major, secondary, sub secondary, final, and key classifications are the six main classifications. While the second-sub secondary, WCDX and special loop division are three extensions.

More precisely, these six divisions with extensions are referred to as FBI modified Henry fingerprint classification system.

The above paragraph is a short introduction to fingerprint classification modified by the FBI.

But, before jumping directly to the six divisions of Henry’s fingerprint classification system modified by the FBI, let’s take a look at the original Henry’s classification system of fingerprints with a simple calculator.

Henry Classification Calculator For Fingerprint

Simply click, and the calculator will do the rest.

To use the calculator, follow the steps:

  1. Select either one: “Whorl” or “not Whorl”
  2. Select values for all 10-digit patterns (All need to be filled)
  3. And you get your number.
  4. Try Henry Classification Calculator

Forensic Fingerprint Tool: Henry Fingerprint Calculator
-> Check only Whorls or Not Whorls
-> Simple As Click
-> 1024 possible group values
Check Now: Henry Fingerprint System Calculator

Original Henry Classification System

Henry Classification System also called 10-digit system

In 1896, Sir Edward Richard Henry developed a fingerprint classification system that uses all fingerprints (hence, also called a 10-digit system).

Prior to the modification by the FBI, the Henry system consisted of 4 classifications system. These were:

  1. Primary
  2. Secondary
  3. Sub-secondary
  4. Final

With this system, every finger in this world can be registered in one of the 1024 possible groups. In the early 1900s, the system was no longer effective for the effective searching of fingerprints.

But Why Not effective? Why does the original fingerprint division need modification?

Why the original henry fingerprint division needed modification

Because, when 1M prints got registered, this classification system by Henry became complex and inefficient to manage.

In the 1920s, the FBI established its fingerprint identification division, which eventually led to the addition of two more divisions to the original Henry system.[1] Similarly, other federal agencies around also came up with their own version of Henry’s fingerprint division.

List of Fingerprint Classification System Originated From Henry

S.No.Henry Modified SystemCountry/ Location
1.Henry Australian SystemAustralia
2.AmericanNew York City
3.RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police)Canada
4.Henry FBI ExtensionWashington, DC
5.Windt KodicekGermany
6.BudapestBudapest, Hungary
10.SpirletThe Hague
11.ConlayFederated Malaysia
12.Flak ConleyNewark, New Jersey

Filling a Henry 10-digit Fingerprint Card

In a fingerprint card, there is a specific layout and position of each finger of the hand. 

The following is the typical layout of a ten-digit fingerprint card.

Filling Henry 10-digit Fingerprint Card

From the above 10-digit fingerprint card, the common interpretation is:

  • The right thumb is to be the first finger.
  • The left little finger is the 10th.
  • Adjacent finger numbers of opposite hands are followed by an addition of 5. 

All the fingerprints are patent in their respective position on the fingerprint card. The process of inserting information such as appropriate numbers, letters, and symbols onto the card is known as blocking the card.

You should check our dedicated article on how to fill 10-digit fingerprint cards with rules.

The following is a typical example of the classification of fingerprints using Henry’s System modified by the FBI.

example of classification of fingerprints using Henry's System modified by the FBI

Henry Fingerprint Classification System Modified by FBI

Henry Fingerprint Classification System Modified by FBI also included sub secondary

In the FBI-modified version, the classification system consists of 6 main sub-classifications. 

  1. Primary Classification
  2. Secondary Classification
  3. Sub-Secondary Classification
  4. Major Division Classification
  5. Final Classification
  6. Key Classification

Main Extension of the Henry Classification System

There are 3 main extensions of the Henry classification system.

  1. Second sub-secondary classification
  2. WCDX classification
  3. Special Loops extension

With the introduction of the AFIS system—an automated one, the 10-digit classification system has come to be known as the manual method of fingerprint classification and identification.

Watch On YouTube How to Calculated Henry Classification of Fingerprint

Overview of the Henry Classification System (FBI Modified)

Sub-divisionsFingersPatterns in  ConsiderationValues 
Primary10 fingersWhorlsSpecific assigned values
MajorThumbLoops and WhorlsRidge count or trace value
SecondaryIndex fingerAll PatternIndicated by capital letters
Secondary Small LetterOther than index fingersArch, tented arch, or radial loopIndicated by small letters
Sub-SecondaryIndex, middle, & ring fingersLoops and WhorlsRidge count or trace value
Final Classification Little fingerLoops (rarely whorls)Ridge count
Key ClassificationAll fingers excluding little fingersLoopsRidge count
Second SubSecondary*Index, middle, & ring fingers LoopsRidge count
WCDX Extension*All fingersWhorlsCapital and Small letters
Special Loop Extension*Index, middle, & ring fingersLoopsSpecific values of ridge count
*Extension to the fingerprint classification system

#1 Primary Classification

The process of manual fingerprint classification always starts with primary classification. In this classification, numerical values of the finger with whorl are considered. If the finger has a whorl, the following value is going to be assigned.

How to Calculate Primary Classification Number
Know how to calculate the Primary Classification Number of a Fingerprint?
Rt Thumb (1)
Rt Index (2)
Rt Middle(3)
Rt Ring (4)
Rt Little (5)
Lt Thumb (6)
Lt Index (7)
Lt Middle (8)
Lt Ring (9)
Lt Little (10)

In the case of fingerprints other than whorls such as loops and arches, the value is assigned to be ‘0’.

Article (Note1): Primary Classification of Fingerprints
-> Rules
-> Easy Way to Learn Pair Values [Image]
-> Why ‘1’ is added
-> How Primary Values are arranged in the FBI database
-> Why Other Classifications Also Need

Check Now: Primary Classification of Fingerprint: Rules, Procedure And Worksheet.

#2 Secondary Classification

henry Secondary Classification system

In secondary classification, the pattern type of the index fingers is designated by a capital letter. In general, the following are the most commonly encountered pattern types:

  • A = Plain arch
  • T = Tented arch
  • R = Radial loop
  • U = Ulnar loop
  • W = Whorl
Identify Patterns of classification secondary
Know more at Secondary Classification of Fingerprints

Article (Note 2): Secondary Classification of Fingerprint With Small Letter Group
-> Rules
-> Images
-> Calculation Formula
-> Worksheet
Check Now: Secondary Classification of Fingerprints With Small Letter Grouping with practical examples.

# Secondary Small Letter Grouping

In this classification division, the patterns are indicated by small letters when they appear other than the index finger.

Rules While Using Small Letter Fingerprint Grouping
Check how to Calculate small letter values for the Henry fingerprint system

They are given by following pattern type.

  • Arches= a,
  • Tented arches =t,
  • Radial loops =r,
  • Ulnar loops (U) and Whorls (W) are indicated by a hyphen (-)

While classification, as stated earlier, these small letters appear next to the secondary capital letters. And they are listed in the order of their occurrence. 

Article (Note 3): Small Letter Group in Secondary Division
-> 4 Rules
-> When Small groups are used
-> Calculation Formula
-> Worksheet
Check Now: Secondary Small Letter Grouping With Practical Examples.

#3 SubSecondary Classification

In the sub-secondary classification system,

  • ridge counting or tracing performed for loops and whorls, respectively that are
  • present on the index, middle, and ring fingers.

Like others, ridge counting values of the right hand are placed in the numerator and the left hand in the denominator.

How to Calculate Sub Secondary Classification Number
Check how you can easily calculate sub-secondary classification numbers easily.

Article (Note 4): Sub-Secondary Classification of Fingerprint
-> Rules
-> Calculation Formula
-> Worksheet
Check Now: Sub Secondary of Fingerprint With Practical Examples

Also Read:

#4 Major Division Classification

It was based upon the pattern present in the thumb only. The right thumb value is placed in the numerator followed by the left thumb as the denominator.

In the fingerprint card, the major division’s ridge count or ridge trace values are placed immediately to the left of the primary classification column.

Example of Major Division Classification

Example of henry Major Division Classification

For the above 10-digit card values, the following is the major division value.


Article (Note 5): Major Classification of Fingerprint
-> Rules
-> Sets of Values
-> Calculation Formula
-> Worksheet
Check Now: Major Division of Fingerprint With Images and Explanation

#5 Final Classification

In this classification, the little fingers of both hands are employed, and ridge counting is performed on loops and whorls patterns.

The right-hand finger counting value is placed in the numerator and the left hand is the denominator. However, only one value is used to classify it in the henry classification line.

The ridge counting of the whorls in the final classification is very rarely used. That’s why the majority of final classification is known to be only loop pattern-driven.

Example of Key Classification System

Let’s take the following example,

Example of  henry final Classification System

Following is the example of a Henry fingerprint Classification system modified by FBI extension, based on the above example. 


Article (Note 6): Final Division of Fingerprint
-> Important Rules
-> When to use
-> Procedure
-> Worksheet
Check Now: Final Classification of Fingerprint With Images

#6 Key Classification System

In the Henry key classification system, you have to count the first loop that appears on the card except for loops on the little finger. In doing so, you just have to place it in the numerator, and place immediately left of the major division value

Example of Key Classification system

Example of Key Classification system

Article (Note 7): Henry Key Classification of Fingerprint
-> Rules to follow
-> Why little finger is excluded?
-> Procedure
-> Worksheet
Check Now: How to Calculate Key Classification of Fingerprint With Images

Extension to Henry Classification By FBI

There are three most common extensions used by the FBI to subdivide large Henry search groups. These are:

  1. Second sub-secondary classification
  2. WCDX classification
  3. Special Loops extension 

#1 Second Subsecondary Classification

Second sub-secondary division is an additional classification that is rarely used for classifying the fingerprint in Henry’s classification.

In this sub-division classification system, the patterns present in the index, middle, and ring fingers are considered and symbolized by the specific ridge counting and ridge tracing values.

Representation of second subsecondary in Henry Classification line
Know how second sub-secondary values are calculated.

Article (Note 8): Second Sub Secondary Classification of Fingerprint
-> When to Use
-> How they align on Henry Line
-> Procedure
-> Worksheet
Check Now: Second SubSecondary Classification of Fingerprint

#2 WCDX Classification

WCDX is an acronym for Whorl, Central Pocket, Double, and Accidental Loop Whorls. It is a special extension majorly used to classify the large groups of whorls patterns such as 32/32.

In this classification, only whorls are classified and named down based on the pattern appearing on all of the fingers.

representation of WCDX classification on henry line

Article (Note 9): WCDX Classification in Henry Fingerprint System
-> When they are used
-> Which Groups are most common
-> Procedure
-> Worksheet
Check Now: WCDX Extension for Classifying Fingerprint

#3 Special Loops Extension 

This extension is used to subdivide the primary classification groups where all the fingers have loop patterns.

The value of the special loop extension is brought by ridge count values of the index, middle, and ring fingers (sometimes left little fingers) of both hands. They are assigned specific values for a specific range of loop counts.

Representation of Special Extension in Henry Line

Article (Note 9): Special Loop Extension of Fingerprint Classification
-> When to Use
-> How they align on Henry Line
-> Procedure
-> Worksheet
Check Now: Special loop extension of fingerprint With Worksheet

Short Summary of Henry Fingerprint Classification System

The following is the overview (a step-by-step) guide on how you can fill the Henry 10-digit card.

1. Primary Classification: Specific allotted value based on prints of whorl pattern. Values vary from 1/1 to 32/32.
2. Secondary Classification:

  • Capital Letters Group: Index finger patterns designated by capital letters. 
  • Small Letter Group: All fingers other than the index finger. Designated by small letters.

3. Sub Secondary Classification: Ridge count or trace of the index, middle, and ring finger. Designated by specific letter (I, M, O).
4. Major Classification: Ridge counts or trace values of loops and whorls on the thumbs. Designated by letters: for loops (S, L), and for whorls (I, O)
5. Final Classification: Ridge count of loop appearing in the little fingers
6. Key Classification: 1st loop count on the card excluding little finger.

Extesnion to FBI Henry Classification System


  • Fingerprints Analysis and Understanding By Hawthorne [Book]
  • Advances in Fingerprint Technology by Fisher [Book]
  • Fingerprint Analysis Laboratory Workbook by Daluz [Book]
  • The Fingerprint: Source Book by NIJ.Gov
ANUWANSHI SHARMA the guest author

This article is made possible because of the efforts of Anuwanshi Sharma. She writes a part of this blog post. You can know more about her form here.

Anuwanshi Sharma


6 thoughts on “Henry Fingerprint Classification System: Key, Major, Primary, Secondary, Subsecondary and Final”

    1. In the Henry Classification System, there are multiple sub-classifications beyond the primary classification. These include secondary, sub-secondary, final, and key classifications. While the primary classification largely depends on the presence and distribution of whorls, the other classifications also take into account loops and arches. Most of these classifications involve ridge counting and tracing, although these methods are not applicable to arches. Nonetheless, arches and other pattern types are assigned specific values within these classification systems. This detailed categorization results in a more precise and smaller set of groups for each individual. It’s noteworthy that having all ten fingers with arch patterns is extremely rare.

    1. the value for the primary classification is 1/1. Secondary classification=U/U, subsecondary= UUU/UUU; and other classification values governed by respective ridge counts.

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