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February 27, 2019

Notary Public Journal


Not all states require maintaning an official journal of Notarial acts, but 123notary requires it as that is the only evidence you have should you go to court or get investigated. There are identity thieves and cons all over the place. They might pretend to be a home owner to steal that person’s equity or con grandma into giving her fortune away to some crooks. If your notarization ever winds up to court, your journal is the only record of what happened and who signed what, etc. Most Notaries think keeping a journal is an annoying task that they do because their state requires it. It is the same attitude that children have towards doing their homework at age seven. But, your journal can save your neck, and I know many whose hides have been saved who ended up in court.



Most Notaries think that you create one entry for each signer and then cram in the names of all of the documents you are notarizing in that transaction. This is a very sloppy practice. If you pick up five packages from FedEx, do you sign once or do you sign five times, each for a particular tracking number? If you keep one journal entry per person per document, then you have a signature proving consent to be notarized for each document you notarize. Additionally, you must name the particular and complete name of each document, and not just say “loan docs.”



In your Notary Public Journal, you need to record the:

Full name of the document, not an abbreviation.

Date & Time of Notarization – Just consult your iPhone for this one.

Type of Notary Act – This might be Acknowledgment, Jurat, Oath, Affirmation, or another Notary act allowed in your state.

Document Date — many documents have a document date inscribed within that is an arbitrary date created by the document drafter. It could be the date the document was drafted, or the date it was intended to be signed, or a random arbitrary date.

Name & Address of Signer – Write down the name as it appears in the identification card.

Identification – Record the serial number, state and expiration date of the identification card.

Other distinguishing factors — if you are signing multiple documents with the same name such as Deeds of Trust, Grant Deeds, etc., you need to differentiate them somehow. Escrow numbers, names of grantors, grantees, APN numbers, property addresses, number of pages, or anything else can help identify a document after the fact in case you end up in court.

Signatures — each line of your journal needs to be signed by the corresponding person. If John and Sally are each signing three notarized documents, then John gets entry 1, 2, and 3 while sally gets 4, 5, and 6. Each signer must sign their three entries otherwise the entries are meaningless.

Thumbprints — I am skipping mentioning more about the other things that belong in a journal as most Notaries get it, however, few Notaries keep thumbprints. Your journal thumbprint is the one piece of evidence the FBI will ask for when they come knocking on your front door. Additionally, it discourages fraud as fraudulent people do not want to be thumbprinted.

Other Information — Although I am skipping elaborating about the other journal fields, I will make a quick note about the additional information section in a journal. That leaves space for information about credible witnesses, subscribing witnesses, unusual facts about the signers, the location, or the circumstances in which you are signing. If the signer claims that they are being kidnapped, write that down in the additional information section of your journal, then call the police. If the signer has a weird neck tattoo, you might need to remember that in court. Put it in your journal. The judge will think you are a very thorough Notary.



The purpose of journals is not only to please your state’s Secretary of State, but also to please judges, attorneys, investigators and FBI agents. Keeping a clean, correct and thorough journal will make a positive impression on the authorities and could keep you from being named as a suspect if God forbid you ever unknowingly Notarize an identity thief, fraud, or otherwise bad person. Notaries don’t get in trouble that often, but for those who make a career out of being a Notary, eventually you will be investigated at least once and perhaps end up in court, so keep your paperwork in order so the investigation is fast and smooth. Otherwise you might end up in court for a very long time — no joke! Roughly 1/7 of the Notaries on our site have had to spend time in court due to something that they notarized.

You might also like:

What entities might want to see your journal?

Journal abbreviation keys

Lady tied to train tracks vs. Notary Public Journal

Comparing Journal Entries to FedEx Signatures


September 16, 2018

Index of posts about Journals

Here is our index of posts about Notary journals

Notary Public 101 — Journals
This is a more comprehensive guide to understanding using Notary journals although we do have supplemental reading as well.

Notary Journals from A to Z

Everything you need to know about journals

How many journal entries do you create if you have two signers each signing three notarized documents?

Do you keep a journal to please your state, a judge, the FBI or 123notary?

Journals with check boxes

Do journals need to be kept under lock and key?

What is someone signs the wrong line in my notary book?

Journal abbreviation keys

Filling out your journal before the appointment?

Five things a Notary must do

Why keep a journal?

NNA is a great place for 1-stop notary shopping especially journals


September 5, 2018

An idea for safeguarding used notary journals

If you are a California Notary, you are required to safeguard your current journal and keep it under lock and key as well as your Notary seal. However, the used journals that stack up in your closet are not required to be locked up. This poses a problem. What if there is a fire, flood, or you lose them, or they get stolen?

I talked to my father, a retired programmer and retired Attorney. He thought the books should be returned to the county clerk. I told him that would be a bad idea because sometimes there are inquiries about journal entries and the county clerk might be sluggish about responding to queries.

Another solution could be to have local lock boxes for Notaries spread out throughout each big county. That way the Notary can keep their journals safe in a lock box exclusive to them, but have access without having to drive more than a few minutes. They could put copy machines in those storage facilities too. It is an expensive idea, but safeguards the integrity of our profession. What do you think?


January 29, 2018

Journal abbreviation keys

Filed under: Journals,Technical & Legal — admin @ 12:50 am

Many people take the easy way out with their journal. Journal keeping is seen as just an arduous task with no higher meaning. Many people feel that they can do a shoddy job doing their journal since it is not required in their state. However, if you are in front of a judge you need a clearly filled out journal whether your state requires it or not.

Many Notaries use the check box journal. I recommend against this. The check box journal says, “E&O” as one of the names of a document. If the real document says, “Errors and Omissions Compliance Agreement” that is a completely different document. E&O is an abbreviateion for the first three words, but what about the last two words? Don’t take liberties.

Then there are other Notaries who just write, “10 Grant Deeds.” If you are ever in court, you need to know which Grant Deed is in question and if you really notarized it. Keeping escrow numbers, names of parties involved and addresses helps to narrow it down.

DOT could be a good abbreviation for Deed of Trust. However, if you are in court years later what will the judge say? What if you have bad handwriting and use abbreviations?

My philosophy is to keep an abbreviation key in the inner cover of each journal you use. I had 70 journals in my career so I could have a lot of keys. You can have a key that says:

DOT = Deed of Trust
AFF = Affidavit
E&O Comp Agree = Errors & Omissions Compliance Agreement.
Corr Agree = Correction Agreement.

This way you have a system that is documented just in case.
Or, just write the entire name of the document out. Or you could only abbreviate Deeds of Trust since they are so common and not abbreviate the others just to keep reading the journal more straight forward.

The worst thing you can do is to write, “Loan Docs.” When you put the names of documents in your journal, each document is legally separate, and the fact they are part of a package does not make them legally all have the title, “Loan Documents.” Each document has a name that must be entered in your journal if you notarize it.


December 19, 2017

Do you keep a journal to please your state, a judge, the FBI, or 123notary?

Most Notaries do not keep a journal because their state doesn’t require it. This is a mistake. Your journal is your only evidence in court. Many Notaries who list with us end up in court. However, since most of our Notaries keep some sort of journal records, their time in court is normally just a visit to the judge’s chambers where the judge might dismiss the case due to good evidence provided by the Notary.

Some Notaries keep a journal, but do so in a fashion I call minimal, where they do not keep the book according to NNA best practices and do not record thumbprints. Since their law might not require any journal, the Notaries often figure that they are already doing more than necessary so why do the maximum?

The answer is that your journal thumbprint which most of you refuse to keep is the ONLY way a judge or investigator can figure out who the signer is in the case of a falsified ID given to the Notary. You don’t know if an ID given to you is real, fake or falsified. But, the thumbprint is real. So you accept ID that can be falsified but refuse to take ID which is genuine — stupid! Take both.

The bottom line is that the real reason you should keep a journal is NOT to please your state (although you must uphold the laws of your state.) California is the only state I have ever heard of who audits people’s journals. If you live outside of California, the chance of your state ever seeing your journal is minimal. However, it is very likely that a judge, an investigator, or the DOJ might need to look at your journal in the case of identity theft. So, keep your journal with the intention of making their lives easier AND making sure that they don’t consider you to be a suspect! Keeping inadequate journal records is suspicious, do don’t be shoddy — be thorough!

Additionally, Jeremy (that’s me) at 123notary is sick and tired of Notaries who are shoddy and don’t keep good records. Keeping a journal is not good enough. You must keep one journal entry per person per document and thumbprint for serious documents such as deeds to please Jeremy. Jeremy wants investigators to be able to catch bad guys, so if you deny them the critical piece of evidence (a thumbprint) to catch the bad guys, then in my opinion — YOU are a bad guy! I would personally throw you in a lion’s den for not keeping a thumbprint if I could have it my way. But, I am not in charge of the world — I’m only in charge of my site.

So, if 123notary gives you a little phone quiz and asks you some questions and we find out that you don’t keep your journal correctly we will deduct points from your score. If we find out you make excuses for your abhorrant behavior, you lose even more points. Why act like a disobedient third grader when nothing prevents you from keeping good books! Only you can prevent forest fires and only you can provide the missing link to catching identity thieves — so do a good job otherwise you will get into a little trouble with 123notary. But, your state won’t care because states other than California don’t seem to take the Notary profession at all seriously! Food for thought!

Don’t keep your journal to please your state. In real life they will never see it unless you live in CA. Keep your journal using the best practices possible to please a judge, jury, the FBI, KGB, the Mossad, and Jeremy from 123notary. I will penalize you if you don’t keep good books as that reflects poorly on my reputation!


You might also like:

Notary Public 101 – Journals

Do you keep a journal? Don’t wait until you get a call from the FBI.

How many journal entries do you use for two signers on three documents?


September 19, 2017

The signers claimed not to have signed the documents

Filed under: Journals,Notary Mistakes,Popular on Linked In — admin @ 12:54 am

A Notary’s commission was suspended for three months. His signers went to court and claimed not to have signed any documents. The Notary’s journal was the one piece of evidence that solved the case and got the Notary’s commission back. So, if you are one of these Notaries who says, “But, my state doesn’t require me to keep a journal.” Think again. Your journal is the one thing that can save your hide.

Your journal can save your hide, but you must hide your journal and keep it under lock and key when not in use!

But, what if you did have the signers sign your journal, but you used the “cram it in” style of filling in your journal where the signer signs once but for multiple documents. They could claim you added more documents after the signing since they only signed once. So, think about the logical reason why God invented Notary journals and read what the NNA says about filling in your journal. Nobody teaches it as well as they do.


You might also like:

$4000 in legal fees because a fraud added a name to an Acknowledgment

13 ways to get sued as a Notary

If you are named as an identity theft conspirator, it could cost you $20,000 in legal fees.


September 12, 2017

Why keep a journal? Don’t wait until you get a call from the FBI.

I have the worst time talking to Notaries in NJ, NY and Florida. They have the worst attitude. The minute ask them a journal quesiton the answer is usually — my state doesn’t require me to keep a journal. I have heard this so many times I just want to throw them off my site just for saying that. I am so upset, that I have decided to have formal standards on 123notary for what we require in our jurisdiction online. Journals will be one of the requirements.

When you are:
Investigated for fraud that you notarized
In court or
Need to look up a former transaction for some reason

Your journal is your only recourse. If you don’t keep a journal, you will not be able to answer to investigators. A journal thumbprint is sometimes the only way the FBI can catch an identity thief. If you don’t keep one because your state doesn’t require it, then you are empowering identity thiefs. Florida’s FAQ page states that they don’t want Notaries to require a thumbprint. That is like asking parents not to require their children to wear a seatbelt. When your child comes home with a fractured jaw, you will change the way you look at this “requirement.”

I was investigated three times.

#1. An investigator suspected an elderly couple of being ripped off. I told him I found the transaction in my journal and had a thumbprint. He said, “Investigation over.” I was off the hook because I kept good records.

#2 A routine inquiry with a journal entry copied and sent to the inuirer.

#3. Someone copied my seal using a xerox machine and pretended to be me. I looked in my journal and found the exact day when the crime was committed. I did a few other jobs that day, but not the job in question. The handwriting on the acknowledgment didn’t match mine either and they did not do the cross outs or use an embosser. Having a journal saved my neck. How can you not keep one?

Another story was that a shady guy wanted to be notarized by me. I told him that I required a thumbprint. The guy protested but I stood my ground. He declined and found another Notary. I detered a potential fraud from happening and it was easy. NNA sells thumbprinters for about $16. Buy a few. It is your best protection.

NNA teaches proper journal filling technique. Learn from them. They teach Notary knowledge better than anyone else.


You might also like:

What entities might want to see your journal?

Notary Public 101 – Journals

How many journal entries if you have 2 signers each signing 3 documents.

Notary Public 101 – Identification


September 5, 2017

Comparing journal entries to fedex signatures

Believe it or not, most Notaries on 123notary do not fill in their journal correctly. It is not rocket science. The rule is:

One entry per person per document.
Two people each signing three documents = SIX journal entries.
But, won’t that take too much time and use too much of your journal? It will only take a few minutes.

Let’s say that Johnny is signing ten documents that are to be Notarized. You put the date, type of notarization(s), document names, document dates, name of signer, address, ID information, notary fee, etc. Next, you draw an ARROW down for the date which remains the same for all ten entries, the name, address, and ID. Then, the signer has to sign for all ten entries. That takes less than a minute. 123notary suggests thumbprinting whether it is required by your state or not as a security measure to help the FBI when they come a knocking. They are bothering one of our Notaires as we speak (or type) and confiscated her journal. So be prepared!

What most Notaries do is one entry per person. Then, they put all the names of the documents in the document section. They have the signer sign once. This is stupid.

If Fedex delivers five packages to you do you sign once? No, you sign once per package and there is a corresponding tracking number next to your signature so you know what you are signing for. If you have a signer sign once in your journal for multiple documents, they could accuse you of having added more documents after the fact and having used them for fraudulent purposes. You would have no way to contest their accusation as the signer did not sign for any particular document.

The bottom line is to have the signer sign once for each document. That way you have proof that your work was authorized and your journal will then be up to standards. And once again, it doesn’t take more than a few mintues and it’s not rocket science.


August 27, 2017

How many journal entries do you use for two signers on three documents?

Filed under: Journals — Tags: , — admin @ 11:51 pm

Many states don’t require a journal. However, your journal is your only evidence if you are investigated. As a Notary, for every 3000 Notary appointments (not acts) you do, you will probably be investigated once based on my personal experience. If fraud is involved on anybody’s part and you don’t have a journal entry, you will have no evidence and could be pulled into court for weeks which would result in your loss of income.

Additionally, we recommend the use of thumbprints in your journal for all critical notarizations, especially those involving Power of Attorney documents Living Wills, or Deeds affecting real estate. It only takes a few seconds to thumbprint someone. A thumbprint cannot be faked, but ID can, so you have no reason not to take thumbprints, and plenty of security related reasons to do so. NNA sells inkless thumbprinters for about $15.

If your state doesn’t require journals, use one anyway for your protection.

Back to the question. If there are TWO signers and THREE documents, you will need SIX journal entries. One per document per signer. What some Notaries do is they create one journal entry per signer and then indicate a list of all the notarized documents they signed. This is wrong and perhaps illegal. Not only is it bad to only create one journal entry per signer, but you might forget to add a document, or if there are cross outs after the fact it will look very sketchy.

However, you don’t need to write all of the info for each journal entry. The signer’s name, address, and ID information can be copied by putting a down arrow or “ditto” quotation marks. However, legally, the signer needs to sign for each document that is notarized and the name of the document, date, time, and type of notary act needs to be indicated for each document.

Additionally, there is an “additional notes” section of each journal entry near the right. If the building looks unusual you can take notes about the building. If the signer is acting weird or looks weird or has a tattoo on his neck or anything else unusual, you should write that in your journal to jog your memory if you ever have to go to court.

I did about 7000 Notary appointments and they all became a blurr to me. The only people I remember were Gary, the guy who blew up his apartment while experimenting with explosives (not a good idea) and a Korean lady who had me notarize the sales of her massage parlors (she paid cash). I also remember Dr. Kwak (pronounced Dr. Quack) who was an acupuncturist. I vaguely remember an impatient rich guy who lived in West Hollywood, did business deals in his pajamas, and played golf. And of course Mr. Yee the Attorney who had me do all of the Health Care Directives each with 80 pages of which I embossed every single page every single time to be prudent.

So, the moral of the story is that if you don’t know how to use your journal like a pro, the NNA has tutorials that you can purchase, and they are highly recommended as they could keep you out of court (or jail.) Or both!


You might also like:

An idea for safeguarding used notary journals

What entities might want to see your journal?

NNA – what every notary needs to know about notary journals


August 13, 2017

The journals with check boxes? What does Jeremy say?

Filed under: Journals — admin @ 11:27 pm

Don’t use it!
Any time you check a box rather than writing something in by hand, you are risking making a mistake. You are dealing with legal documents here. Being a Notary is not the same as working for the circus. The consequences for a mistake could end you up in court.

Additionally, many document names have variations. If you check the box for an Errors and Omissions document where the real name is Errors and Omissions Compliance Agreement, you did not reference the correct document.

The more serious problem with check boxes is that many Notaries feel that the laws affecting proper journal filling procedure suddently change the minute you use the check box journal. Many Notaries feel you no longer have to obey the one document per entry law or principle. Not true! The principle is still the same. The signer or borrower has to sign for each journal entry and for each document in a separate journal entry — no exceptions and don’t cry about how much longer it will take you. You are Notaries, not clowns!

My suggestion is to use the regular NNA soft cover Official Journal of Notarial Acts. It is good for any type of Notary act, has room for a thumbprint, notes about the signer, room for credible witnesses, etc. It was all I ever needed and I went through about six dozen in my career.

I first saw a real journal with check boxes recently when Carmen showed me hers. She fills hers out by hand instead of checking boxes by the way (which is correct). However, the journal doesn’t mention that many choices of documents (only about 18) so if yours is a variation on a name of a document or not on the list you still need to write it by hand. The check boxes only encourage bad bookkeeping. So, no more check boxes. We don’t like it. It is not professional, safe or a good practice!


You might also like:

Notary Public 101 – Journals

Do Notary Journals need to be kept under lock and key?

What are Jeremy’s favorite blog entries?

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