How to Properly Use a Notary Stamp

Using a self-inking notary stamp is the easiest way to inscribe the notary commission information on a document to be notarized; it is quick, easy, and neat.

However, notaries must take care when making an impression with the notary stamp so that the impression is made in a way that will allow the notarized document to be accepted by the document recipient or receiving authority.

It is important that the notary stamp information does not obscure the notary's signature or any of the text on the document or notary certificate. This is sometimes difficult if the space allotted to the notary stamp is too small or narrow.

One way to deal with this problem is to carry more than one notary stamp. Notary stamps come in different sizes and configurations; having both a small stamp and a large stamp gives the notary a choice when confronted with a document that doesn't have ample space for a large stamp.

If the area to be stamped is so narrow that neither stamp will do, this would be a time to attach a loose certificate of the same type as the notary certificate on the document, i.e. acknowledgment or jurat. Place one line through the existing notary certificate, initial near the line, and write the words, "see attached" at the bottom of the document. Then the notary can proceed to complete, sign, and stamp the loose certificate and staple it to the document.

It is a good idea when first purchasing a notary stamp to make a few trial impressions on a blank sheet of paper. By doing so, you can determine the thickness of the ink and the correct amount of pressure to apply to make a clean, readable, full impression. An impression that is too heavily inked may smear or blur some of the wording applied to the document; an impression that is too light may be unreadable or contain missing information, making the notarization invalid.

By practicing stamp impressions, you will also familiarize yourself with the size of the wording so that you can determine when it might be prudent to use a smaller stamp or attach a loose certificate. Always be sure to shred and discard the paper with the trial impressions on it so that it can't be misused by any unscrupulous individual.

Notary supplies, notary stamps in varying sizes are all available at

Legal Disclaimer: The American Association of Notaries seeks to provide timely articles for notaries to assist them with information for managing their notary businesses, enhancing their notary education, and securing their notary stamp and notary supplies. Every effort is made to provide accurate and complete information in the American Association of Notaries newsletters. However, we make no warrant, expressed or implied, and we do not represent, undertake, or guarantee that the information in the newsletter is correct, accurate, complete, or non-misleading. Information in this article is not intended as legal advice. We are not attorneys. We do not pretend to be attorneys. Though we will sometimes provide information regarding notaries' best practices, federal laws and statutes, and the laws and statutes of each state, we have gathered this information from a variety of sources and do not warrant its accuracy. In no event shall the American Association of Notaries, its employees, or contractors be liable to you for any claims, penalties, loss, damage, or expenses, howsoever arising, including, and without limitation, direct or indirect loss or consequential loss out of or in connection with the use of the information contained in the American Association of Notaries newsletters. It is your responsibility to know the appropriate notary laws governing your state. Notaries are advised to seek the advice of their states' notary authorities or attorneys in their state if they have legal questions. If a section of this disclaimer is determined by any court or other competent authority to be unlawful and/or unenforceable, the other sections of this disclaimer continue in effect.

Notary bonds and errors and omissions insurance policies provided by this insurance agency, American Association of Notaries, Inc., are underwritten by Western Surety Company, Universal Surety of America, or Surety Bonding Company of America, which are subsidiaries of CNA Surety.

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