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 is committed to providing accurate and up-to-date information. However, it is important to note that the information provided on this page is for general informational purposes only and should not be relied upon as legal advice. We do not claim to be attorneys and do not guarantee the accuracy, completeness, or reliability of the information provided. It is your responsibility to know the appropriate notary laws governing your state. You should always seek the advice of a licensed attorney for any legal matters. In no event shall the American Association of Notaries, its employees, or contractors be liable to you for any claims, penalties, losses, damages, 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 on any of the American Association of Notaries website pages. Notaries are advised to seek the advice of their state’s notary authorities or attorneys if they have legal questions. 

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.