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February 7, 2017

Notary Wording

Notary Wording Varies from State to State
There is no official American Notary wording. Notary verbiage differs from state to state, and varies based on what type of Notary act you are having done. There are various common types of notarizations such as Acknowledged signatures, Jurats, Oaths and Affirmations. The vast majority of notarizations are Acknowledgments whose wording states that the signer appeared before the Notary, was positively identified, and signed the document.

Notary Certificates — what type of wording is included.
Your typical Acknowledgment or Jurat Certificate will include several sections with wording.

1. Venue
The venue states the state and county where the notarization is taking place. Please note that the Notary is not always commissioned in the county where the notarization is taking place. So, if you are in Orange county, but the Notary is from San Diego, please make sure they put the venue county based on where the notarization is taking place, and not where they live.

2. Boiler Plate Wording
The main body of the text could be worded in an infinite variety of ways, but normally state the date of the signing, name of the signer, the name of the Notary, the fact that the signer appeared before the Notary, the fact that the signer signed the document, and if an Oath was included (Jurats by definition have Oaths) then the fact that the signer swore before the Notary. The verbiage “subscribed and sworn to before me this (date)” is commonly used in many states especially in New York where the cabbies enjoy the swearing part more than any other part of the Notarization.

3. The Signature Section
The bottom of the notary wording or notary verbiage has room for the Notary’s seal which might mean their signature or their official notary stamp. In most states the Notary signs and stamps, or might even emboss with a non-inked embosser as a secondary form of stamp.

Types of Acknowledgments
Normally, when people want to be Notarized, they ask the Notary if they can notarize a Jurat for them. In actuality, most Notarizations are for Acknowlegments. Normally people can use an All Purpose Acknowledgment, but in Ohio, there is such thing as a Corporate Acknowledgment and Attorney in Fact Acknowledgment.

Where Can You Find Your State’s Wording?
If you visit our find a notary page, you can click on your state and find current notary wording for your state. Or Google your states notary wording. Example: “California Acknowledgment Wording.”

Sample California Jurat Verbiage

State of California
County of Lake

Subscribed and sworn to (or affirmed) before me on this 5th day of January, 2017, by Jedadiah Goldminer, proved to me on the basis of satisfactory evidence to be the person(s) who appeared before me.



Loose Certificates
Many documents have preprinted notary wording on them. However, it is legal to attach a loose certificate form using a staple. NNA is a great source for Notary certificate pads such as Acknowledgment Certificates, Jurat Certificates, and even Copy Certification by Document Custodian if you want to get fancy.

Filling out the Forms
It is common on Notary certificate forms to have sections where there is he/she/they or signature(s). You have to cross out the non-applicable word(s). If you are Notarizing a woman, cross out the he and the they and the (s). If you are notarizing a man and a woman in the same notary act, cross out the he and the she, but keep the (s). If you are notarizing a man who used to be a women — your guess is as good as mine — good luck, you’ll need it.

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November 30, 2016

Notary Acknowledgment Wording

If you are a Notary, or want to get something Notarized, you will have to deal with Notary wording and perhaps Notary Acknowledgment Wording. There are various types of Notary acts, and Acknowledgments are the most common with Jurats in second place. The process of getting something notarized normally involves the signer personally appearing before a Notary Public, showing ID, signing a journal, etc. The Notary needs to fill in the notary wording on the certificate and then sign and stamp the paperwork. Here are some facts about Acknowledgments.

(1) Certificates
The instrument that contains Notary Acknowledgment wording is called a “Certificate.” A certificate can be a separate piece of paper that is added by staple to a legal document. Or, the certificate wording could be embedded in the document below the signature section. In either case, the Notary certificate must contain notary verbiage specific to the state requirements where the notarization is taking place. The format of the certificate typically includes a venue, body of the acknowledgment and then a signature area at the bottom. There is often an additional or optional information section as well. The Notary’s seal must be affixed near the signature section of the certificate whether it is a loose certificate or boiler plate wording embedded in the actual document.

(2) State Specific Wording
If the notarization is being recorded in one state, but being notarized in another, then the Notary Acknowledgment wording must be substantially similar to the approved and required state wording where the document is being recorded. Notary Acknowledgment Wording differs from state to state. You can Google your state’s Notary wording if you like, or visit our find a notary page for more detailed information.

(3) Jurats
Please also keep in mind that some people call all Notary forms a “Jurat” while a real Jurat is substantially different from an Acknowledgment as it contains an Oath (by definition) and requires signing in the presence of a Notary. State rules for Jurats also differ from state to state, so you need to find out what the rules are in the state that you are being Notarized in are.

(4) Sections in an Acknowledgment

(a) Venue (State of Nevada; County of Clark)
(b) The words, “Appeared before me”
(c) The date (i.e. 08-04, 2012)
(d) That the signer acknowledges signing the instrument that their name is subscribed to within
(e) Name of the signer and the notary.
(f) Proof of identity of the signer
(g) Signature (seal) of the notary
(h) A place for the notary to affix their official notary seal.

(5) Optional Information
There is also an additional information section on Acknowledgments where you can indicate the number of pages in the document, the document name, and other identifying factors. To deter fraud, it is a prudent habit to fill out as much additional information as possible and even get a thumbprint on the certificate as well as in the journal.

(6) Sample Acknowledgment Wording

State of California
County of Los Angeles

On 5-15-2011 before me, John Doe, notary public, personally appear Joe Barber who proved to me on the basis of satisfactory evidence to be the person whose name is subscribed to the within instrument and who acknowledged to me that he executed the same in his authorized capacity and by his signature(s) on the instrument the person, or entity upon behalf of which the person acted, executed the instrument.

I certify under PENALTY of PERJURY under the laws of the state of California that the foregoing paragraph is true and correct.

WITNESS my hand and official seal

—————————————— (affix stamp here)
(Signature of Notary)


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September 18, 2016

He, She, or They?

He She or They

Jeremy and others have often mentioned the “requirement” (in quotes because the laws regarding this issue probably vary by state) to cross out the irrelevant sections in a notary section. They reason that the notary is responsible to redact entries that do not “match” the person being notarized. I disagree.

In the thousands of notary sections that have my signature and seal, over a decade of doing this; not a single one has had the redactions. Not one. And, I have never been “called to task” for not completing the section properly. There is no mention in New York State law requiring such action. The model for the Acknowledgement that I use has both “he she they” and “his her their”; and is taken directly from the handbook for NY notaries. My Jurat is even simpler: Sworn to and subscribed before me by _____.

Long before “gender identity” was a news topic I concluded that I was not the person to determine the gender of affiants. If I am not the one, who is? Well, the best answer is probably the affiant. However, some may consider a medical doctor more appropriate. It could also be a Judge. I do not see it as my function, in MY statement, to declare the gender of the affiant. Now the gender identity issue has become a hot topic in the media. To me it’s a personal issue, one for the affiant to declare or not declare as they see fit. Whatever gender identity THEY say, outside of the notary section; is fine with me.

My sharp eyed critics, and they are legion; will have noticed I included “they and their” as items that I do not redact. They are thinking “surely you should delimit the notary section to one individual when multiple names are not being notarized”. Perhaps, but I offer two defenses to leaving it as is. First, the sole name, when there is only one affiant signing, is clearly entered in the notarization. Secondly, and admittedly this is a bit of a “reach” – the affiant might identify as being of dual identity. One ID, but they consider themselves two persons. Possibly one gender sometimes, different other times. Technically it’s proper for me to enter two names in the notary section when only one person is before me and taking the oath. This comes directly from the NY County Clerk office. If the affiant has two passports with a different name on each document – they have “proved” both names and “they” have the option of having each name entered on the notary section.

With the rampant rise of identity theft and similar crimes; the role of the notary has become more, not less, important in commerce. More important yes, but not of greater scope in our basic function. Many are the “notary signature only” documents I have seen included with the packages. Fortunately for me it is illegal in NY as a notary; to make statements of fact. The most common being for me to state that I have determined the identity of the affiant(s) to an absolute certainty. The State standard is to view “adequate proof” – not absolute proof. These statements by the notary will only admit you to the litigation chain if, in fact, you were conned by a good looking forgery of the ID.

But, let’s get back to the gender issue. A person is a person, nobody will refute that. We notarize people, they come in a wide variety – and it’s our job to accommodate all of them; within the bounds of our respective state codes. I leave my notarizations “open” to be all inclusive. It’s for others to decide issues of gender. It’s so easy to make false assumptions. I have asked the Sister of the affiant to sign on the Spouse line. Ouch, that was awkward for a moment. Clearly including the name, as taken from the ID is what works for me. Of course care should be taken to not provide an “open ended” notarization to which some additional name(s) can be added at a later date. As the County Clerk told me: “You notarize the name as on the ID, nothing else”. Thus, I make no determination as to he, she, or they, and leave the form alone.

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September 15, 2016

One signing — two venues?

Filed under: Technical & Legal — Tags: , — admin @ 11:27 am

It happened many years ago. I had to do a split signing, but not for a split level building thank God. The husband was in Orange County, but the wife was in Ventura. Some marriage they must have had — but, I couldn’t say anything because — I’m just the Notary!

I couldn’t figure out what to put in the venue though. The signing was happening all on the same day, so technically, I could use one Acknowledgment. The signing company insisted that I only use one Notary Acknowledgment for both signers even though the law allows for the use of one per person. Legally, it is cleaner, but not necessarily more legal to do the signing using two separate acknowledgments since each signer was in a different county. But, the signing company recommended something completely different.

Put two counties in the venue? What? Yes, this is exactly what the signing company asked me to do after talking to one of their Notary experts on their panel of in-house specialists. I was to put:

State of California
County of Ventura & Orange

The surprising thing is that the county clerk didn’t complain about this. Lucky me. They could have thrown the whole signing back in our face on a whim but they didn’t. Perhaps because my seal was not smudgy. But, this will be a great story to tell my grandchildren if I ever have any. But, you can’t have grandchildren if you don’t have children and you can’t have (legitimate) children without a wife. Boy, I’ve got to get myself a girlfriend and fast!

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March 16, 2016

Can you send a loose acknowledgment? You should hear the answers

I asked a Notary the following questions.

Can you send a loose Acknowledgement if the Grant Deed you already Notarized and send it had a smudgy seal?

The Notary said, that yes you could. You just attach it to the Grant Deed.
I replied back that if you attach the certificate to the Grant Deed, that it would no longer be loose. It is kind of like asking if a virgin can be sent in the mail and you say — yes, she just has relations with Tim and then you can send her. If the virgin had relations with Tim she would no longer be a virgin just like the Acknowledgment Certificate on the Grant Deed would no longer be loose if it were attached to the Grant Deed. On a brighter note, if Tim were the only lady that the “virgin” had relations with, at least she would not be considered to be “loose” like the acknowledgment whose final words were, “Baby, I’ll attach myself to any document… anywhere… any time…”

Legal or not?
Many Notaries feel that it is fine to send a loose Acknowledgment in the mail. This is actually not legal in most states. Acknowledgments should be attached by a stable to the document they are associated with. If the stamp was smudgy on the initial acknowledgment, some states might allow you to destroy the original acknowledgment and add another non-smudgy one in its place. But, no state will allow there to be two acknowledgments for one Notarization floating around. That is just plain crazy.

California wants Notaries to completely re-do smudgy signings. You would have to go back and visit the signer all over again, get a new signed journal entry, and do the Notarization as if you were doing it for the first time if God forbid — there was a smudge.

The way to handle Acknowledgments with smudges varies from place to place. But, you need to know what the law says so you don’t do something stupid. Most Notaries that I talked to do not have a thorough understanding of the law about this topic.

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March 11, 2016

He Said She Said


Tracy visits a notary with an unusual request…

TRACY: I just became a woman and need the paperwork to legally document that I’ve transitioned into my new sex. I guess you have your work cut out for you.

NOTARY: I guess you had your… work… cut out… of… well, you know what I mean.

TRACY: Naturally. I’m the smarter sex now.

NOTARY: Duly noted. Well, I’d like to have you sign this acknowledgment. “On this date, you proved to me on the basis of satisfactory evidence…” Well, you don’t have to go nuts… as it were… (continuing) “to be the person whose name…” Tracy, was it?

TRACY: It was. And it still is.

NOTARY: “…Acknowledged to me that he/she/they executed the same…”

TRACY: You’re reading the form verbatim?

NOTARY: Well the ‘he’ and ‘she’ parts still kind of apply. And if you add the two up, so does the “they” come to think of it!

TRACY: (dismissive) Men.

NOTARY: I’ll lose the “they”. And should I put a “he” or “she” since you legally became a “she”?

TRACY: Pick one.

NOTARY: (continuing) “… in her authorized capacities, and that by her signature…”

TRACY: My signature is so much more delicate now.

NOTARY: “I certify under penalty of perjury that the foregoing paragraph is true and correct.”

TRACY: Which part? That I’m a he, she, or a they?

NOTARY: Pick one.

Later at the bar, the notary brings his buddy up to speed.

BUDDY: So he signed the acknowledgment?

NOTARY: No, she signed the acknowledgment. She needed me to notarize her. I mean he needed me to notarize him. Her. You see, he… is a she… or rather, he became a she physically. But she… he… hadn’t legally become a she, which is why she… he… needed me to notarize his-slash-her sex change affidavit.

BUDDY: Who’s “Slash”?

NOTARY: She was right. Men are the dumber sex.



February 17, 2016

If the lender has the Notary change a date on the Acknowledgment

I ask this question just to see if I can throw a curve ball at the Notaries.


If the Lender asks the Notary to change a date on the Acknowledgment, who initials the change? The Notary, the Signer, or both?

Common Answers

(1) That is illegal. I wouldn’t do it.
Commentary: It is illegal to falsify a date on a Notary certificate. But, if you change a date, you might be changing it from a wrong date to the correct date. “Oh, I didn’t think of that…” Besides, we are not asking you if it is legal to change the date, we are asking who initials.

(2) The borrower
Commentary: The borrower or signer has no business writing anything in the certificate section as that is the exclusive jurisdiction of the Notary. At this point the Notary being asked the question normally says, “Oh, I thought you meant the document.” If I meant the document, I would not have said the Acknowledgment.

(3) Both
Commentary: Only the Notary can touch the certificate section.

What about California
I have heard that in California you cannot fix a certificate. You have to notarize it all over again. Hmmm.


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November 17, 2015

Filing out your journal before the appointment?

One notary on Linked In wrote about filling in their journal before the appointment. Honestly, there is nothing illegal about this. However, if one of the parties doesn’t show up for the signing, you might have to do a lot of crossing out in your journal which might not look good if you ever get audited. I have not heard of notaries getting audited, but your state could raise its standards any time, so behave as it if could happen.

If you have limited time at a signing, you might be tempted to pre-fill the Acknowledgment forms and journal entries. It is illegal to stamp the certificates before the signer has signed your Notary journal and the document. However, putting the wording in is okay. The problem is that last minute changes do happen regularly. Signings can be postponed until the next day, and if you put the date in, or there is a last minute name variation change, you will not be able to use that form.

Personally, I feel that you should not fill in forms before or after the appointment. It is easier to make career-ruining mistakes if you divide these tasks into two sessions. You are more present at the signing (at least I am) and you should fill in the forms with the signer in front of you. As a Notary, saving a few minutes at the signing is not an important goal. Filling out these Notary certificate forms is generally very quick if you have experience. The main goal for signing agents should be to develop good practices which keep your error rate near zero.

So, my advice is — avoid the possibility of messy situations. Don’t preword your forms or journals. Do it at the time of the notarization. Be safe! You could call this a “Best Practice” or the avoidance of a “Non-Best Practice”

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August 13, 2014

Notary Nook — a fast food restaurant for notaries

Filed under: Virtual Comedy Themes — Tags: , , — admin @ 7:37 am

Drive-Thru Notary

The signer drives up to the drive-thru window at Notary Nook, where there is a giant hand with a menu and a microphone in the middle.

Welcome to Notary Nook
Girl: “Welcome to Notary Nook, may I take your order?”
Signer: “Yes, I’d like large acknowledgement.”
Girl: “You have a lovely voice!”
Signer: “No, not that type of acknowledgment!”
Girl: “One large acknowledgment coming up, would you like veri-fries with that?”
Signer: “Can you verify what a veri-fry is please?”
Girl: “Sorry, I can’t hear you, can you speak louder?”

Talk to the hand…
Girl: “Can you please back your car up. You are very far from the microphone. Talk to the hand!”
Signer: “Can you verify what that is?”
Girl: “A veri-fry is a fry that has been authenticated by one of our Apostilles”
Signer: “Oh, I thought an Apostille was a type of authentication.”
Girl: “In real life it is, but at our place, we call an authenticator an Apostille.
Signer: “Can I also get a small order of certi-fries from the value menu?”
Girl: “That’s a lot of fries! We need you to swear under Oath that you’re really hungry.”
Signer: “I swear it, so help me god! (belch)”
Girl: “I heard a belch, it sounds like you already had something to drink and perhaps eat. It looks like you just committed what we call Drive-Thru Notary Perjury!”
Signer: “Actually, I just had a beer, and now I need some solid food in me!”

Please sign the journal
Girl: “Please drive up to the window and sign the journal.”
Signer: “Okay, I’ll sign right here.”
Girl: “Can you let me see the document that you are acknowledging?”
Signer: “Can you promise me you won’t acknowledge this document with a huge grease stain?”
Girl: “You’re safer with an electronic signature. If you get a digital signature, we only use digital grease!”
Signer: “I’ll stick with a paper signature & acknowledgment. Let’s do the notary work first, and get my document back in the folder before you hand over the certi-fries and veri-fries.
Girl: “All ready. Here is your Acknowledgment. Would you like to get two blue pens for an additional 25 cents?”
Signer: “I swear I don’t. By the way, your dumpster is infested with JuRats!”
Girl: “Here are your fries sir. Please visit our other restaurants. We have a New England seafood restaurant called The Rusty Embosser. We have a fondue restaurant called, The Leaky Seal. And for Notorial fried chicken, try Journal Sanders.”

(1) Notary fast food items: Veri-fries, Certi-fries, Notorial friend chicken at Journal Sanders!
(2) Notary Value Menu: Veri-fries $1 — authenticated by one of our in-house Apostilles!
(3) Welcome to Notary Nook, may I take your order?

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June 20, 2013

Optional info on Acknowledgment Certificate

So, you are a notary? But:

(1) Do you fill out your certificates thoroughly?

(2) Do you know what the optional or additional information section of the acknowledgment certificate is?

(3) Do you know what a certificate is?

(4) Do you know what the Acknowledgment wording is in your state?

(5) Do you cross out the his/her/their or (s) in capacity(s)?

Most notaries don’t do their cross outs which is illegal to skip. And the Secretary of State is too busy to catch up with all of the notaries in their respective state.

What is in the optional information section, and should it be optional?
(1) Number of pages in the document

(2) Document name

(3) Document date

(4) Capacity of signer

(5) Other signers who signed the document but, were not notarized on that notarization

(6) Right thumbprint of signer

Why is this important?
There are a lot of frauds out there. California law requires notaries to STAPLE (legally, the word used is attach) the notary certificate to the corresponding document. But, do you know how many people detach the staple? Title companies complained about my staples because they detached everything I stapled. They are inviting fraud if you ask me. It looks tampered with if they detach documents. Very sketchy. If I were the Secretary of State, I would investigate anyone who unstapled a notary document and might have them arrested for suspected fraud!

If a fraud wants to take an Acknowledgment OFF one document and attach it to another, it will be hard work if the optional information is all filled out. The number of pages would have to measure up. The document date would need to correspond. The Document name would have to be consistant as well. Most frauds would have not go that far, and might make a mistake matching all of the statistics since they were not trained well (probably). But, imagine if you submit an Acknowledgment certificate that has none of this information? You could conceivably reattach it to ANY document that the signer signed — an invitation for others to commit fraud.

Therefor, I believe that it should be required by law in all states to fill in the optional information section — hence renaming it the required additional information section. Be square and deter fraud today!

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