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Mrs. Covert's Spying Lesson #5: 

Secret Writing

There are many types of invisible ink. Before we talk about where to get them or how to make them, it’s important to know how to use them. If you write on a blank piece of paper with invisible ink, you might forget why you are carrying that blank paper around. Or somebody who suspects you have a secret will suspect that you wrote on it in invisible ink. Why else would you carry around a blank piece of paper?

A note pad is normal looking. But not a blank one. You should write in your notepad. Write as if you have no secrets. Write neatly, in large letters with space between the lines. Then you can use the space between the lines later when you write secrets in invisible ink.

A letter also looks normal. In fact, if you let your girl friends know you are carrying a love letter, they’ll be eager to read it, but they won’t suspect the love letter also has a secret hidden message. And even if they read it, they’ll put it back because they won’t want you to know they’ve been snooping.

Letters are also a useful way to send messages to other agents. You can use the neat large writing technique to send a normal letter and put your secret message between the lines in invisible ink. If you are really intent on keeping the message secret, you can also write the secret message in code.

Cell Phones allow for short text messages. You and your agent can agree on code words to convey preset messages. For example, if you are following someone, you can tell your agent that you have found the suspect at the ice cream shop, or the mall, or the library by sending an agreed upon word such as hat for ice cream shop, fly for mall or pig for library.

Email can be encrypted. Or you can have every other line be your true message, or every other word. You can find many systems of hiding messages in letters at your library. All of them can be applied to email. You can even send a series of links to web pages. The first word on the first page can be the first word of your letter. The second word on the second page can be the second word, and so forth. Play around with this and come up with something original that only you and your agents will know.

Here's a website with codes and other secret messages that were sent over 200 years ago:  Spy Letters of the American Revolution  The methods are still workable today.

And don’t forget to destroy secret messages as soon as you have memorized them or done what they described. Spies don’t keep records for others to find. A spy’s work is only judged by results – not by a paper trail. And a paper trail can tip others off to your secret plans.

An easy invisible ink is lemon juice. You can write with it, and then you can reveal the writing by briefly placing your paper on a light bulb. You can buy inks that are visible under ultraviolet light, and you can buy a UV bulb at most hardware stores. Some more sophisticated inks require special solutions to make them visible.


Mrs. Covert

Click here to see a joke that depends on a code book.
Click here to go to the next lesson: Magician's Tricks
Ask Mrs. Covert Write Mrs. Covert. Click here: 
Decipher a coded message:  http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/venona/cipher.html#
3 Methods to make invisible inks: http://www.kidzworld.com/site/p3844.htm
If you want invisible ink that stays invisible, check Ebay for "spy pen"

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