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Can I Alter Wording On An Acknowledgment Certificate?

New Hotline Resized 3Update 10-10-16.

Is it true that you can no longer alter California Notary certificate wording to be specific to the gender/number of people that you are notarizing for?  For example, if a certificate said “he/she/them” could I cross off “she” and “them” if I was notarizing a document for a single male signer? C.J., San Mateo, CA

Effective January 1, 2014, California Civil Code Section 1188 was amended to clarify that the form of the certificate of acknowledgment as prescribed in Section 1189 must be used for all acknowledgments taken in California that will be filed in the state. The California Secretary of State has told the NNA that while all of the words prescribed for the certificate of acknowledgment must be present, Notaries are permitted to line through the “he/she/they” on pre-printed wording to make it specific to the person that is appearing before you. Here is a link to the acknowledgment wording as it appears in the CA Notary Statutes.

However, as a best practice, the NNA recommends that you refrain from circling or crossing-out the “he/she/they” and “his/her/their” wording. Instead, line through any remaining blank space on the “Name(s) of Signer(s)” line after the name of the signer or signers has been entered. This will prevent additional names from being added to the certificate after the notarization is completed.

Hotline answers are based on the laws in the state where the question originated and may not reflect the laws of other states. If in doubt, always refer to your own state statutes. – The Editors

David Thun is an Associate Editor at the National Notary Association.

Confronted with a tricky notarization? Unsure how to proceed? NNA members have unlimited access to our expertly trained NNA Hotline counselors to help you with all of your notarial questions. Call (888) 876-0827, Monday through Friday, 6 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. PST; Saturday, 5 a.m. to 5 p.m. PST.

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Add your comment

Candy Powell Caruso

18 Aug 2014

Does this apply in Florida?

National Notary Association

18 Aug 2014

Hello Candy, The situation described in this question is specific to California. Hotline answers are based on the laws in the state where the question originated and may not reflect the laws of other states. If in doubt, always refer to your own state statutes.

Gailyn Cossey

18 Aug 2014

However, if an attorney is preparing a document with a Notary Acknowledgment attached, can the acknowledgment leave out the "hers" and "theirs" and only have the "his" and "him" if only one male is signing? This would alleviate the need to strike out words in the acknowledgment.

National Notary Association

18 Aug 2014

Hello Gailyn, As mentioned above, we have been told by the CA Secretary of State's office that the wording must be printed verbatim, so options such as "he/she/they" must be present.

Joyce Sutton

18 Aug 2014

If after crossing through the wording that is not applicable, should the notary initial each cross-through as well?

National Notary Association

19 Aug 2014

Hi Joyce. I spoke with our Hotline team about your question, and here's what they suggested: When simply crossing out certificate wording that's not applicable (such as "she/they" when notarizing for a male signer), the Hotline team said it should be OK to simply line through without initialing and dating the change. However, if you are correcting an error appearing in the certificate (such as an venue that reads "State of Ohio" when the notarization is taking place in California) you should line through the error, write in the correct information and initial and date the change. If you have additional questions, you can email the Hotline team at Have a great day.

Christine Amos

18 Aug 2014

I am a CA notary, can I Notarize an Acknowledgment that has been preprinted specific with the signers information already correctly in place, as long as the rest of the California Acknowledgment wording is correct.... For example State of California County of Sacramento On August 18,2014 before me, Christine Amos Notary Public personally appeared Jane Doe, who proved to me on the basis of satisfactory evidence to be person whose name is subscribed to the within instrument and acknowledged to me that she executed the same in her authorized capacity, and that by her signature on the instrument the person, or the entity on behalf of which the person acted, excuted the instrument. I certify under PENALTY OF PERGURY under the laws of the State of California that the foregoing paragraph is true and correct. WITNESS my hand and official seal. Signature_____________________. (seal)

National Notary Association

19 Aug 2014

Hello Christine. As mentioned previously, we have been told by the CA Secretary of State's office that the wording must be printed verbatim, so options such as "he/she/they" must be present.

Nori Kieran-Meredith

19 Aug 2014

NNA -- did you tell us about the change of law around the first of the year? On another note, I've been using incomplete acknowledgments all year with no rejections, so it looks like the law is not being enforced. Still I shall reform my ways . . .

National Notary Association

20 Aug 2014

Hello Nori, thank you for your question. We did sent out an email to Notaries on December 23 with information about the new CA law change, and also ran a Bulletin article about the Secretary of State's position on correcting certificates on January 22. Here's a link to the Bulletin article for more information: You can also find information on recent state law updates in our searchable law database. Here's a link with details on AB 464, the bill affecting CA certificate wording: I hope this information is helpful to you. Thanks for your feedback and have a great day.

21 Aug 2014

Re: Acknowledgment I have received loan documents where the acknowledgment has the persons name already printed on the acknowledgment. Example: John Doe, trustee of the living trust.... I have have been putting a line through, ( trustee of the living trust...and putting my initial after the correction). Have I been doing it correctly?

Eileen Botta

23 Aug 2014

I have always put a circle around he, she or thier and not lined through anything. is this alright to do?

National Notary Association

27 Aug 2014

Hello Eileen. I checked with our Hotline team. They said that your practice of circling is OK, though as a best practice we recommend lining through the unused information so that there is no confusion.

14 Sep 2014

Thank you for the clarification. The Hot Line editor has explained it very well.

Lancine Sharp

17 Sep 2014

I recently notarized a couple of documents and realized that the Acknowledgement has the wrong year listed on the date of notary. Can I put a line through it and write in the correct date and initial? Also do I have to cross out the words he/she/they accordingly to who's signature I am notarizing, or can I just leave it as is? I am in California.

National Notary Association

19 Sep 2014

Hello Lancine, Thanks for your question. We contacted our Hotline team for assistance and here's the response: "According to the Secretary of State of CA, there are no provisions in the law that state 'yes a notarization can be corrected.' If there is an error that is found after the signer has left the Notary’s presence, then notarize the signature again. Make sure that the signer appears before the Notary, fill out the certificate with the current date and make another entry in the journal. If you have made a mistake while in the signer’s presence and there is room to correct the mistake, you can line through the mistake, correct and initial. Crossing off the he/she/they to make the notarization specific to the signer that has appeared before you will help prevent any other person from adding another person that did not appear before you. This will help prevent a document from being rejected by the agency that will receive the document and also protect you and the signer."

John Tran

12 Jul 2015

I have seen documents with incorrect wording. I have seen many different variations to fix it. (1) Notaries have lined through the incorrect wording and wrote ("See attached all purpose CA Acknowledgement (date)" Then they would stamp both documents side by side to show half the seal on the signature page and the other half on the new CA acknowledgment attachment and then they would attach the All purpose Acknowledgement. (2) They did the same thing above without diagonally lining through the incorrect notary language. Is there a standard?

National Notary Association

15 Jul 2015

Hello. CA Notaries should not affix an incomplete seal impression to a document (so stamping 'half on the signature page and half on a loose certificate' would not be appropriate.). Regarding correcting information in a certificate, CA Notaries may correct certificate information during the notarization by lining through the error, writing in the correct information and initialing and dating the change, but not after the notarization is completed. The CA SOS 2015 Notary newsletter states: "There are no provisions in the law that allow for the correction of a completed notarial act. If you discover an error in a notarial act after completing the act, then notarize the signature on the document again. All requirements for notarization are required for the new notarial act, including completing and attaching a new certificate containing the date of the new notarial act and completing a new journal entry."

Kris Lee

31 May 2017

If a notary has entered the incorrect date in the acknowledgment, would the document need to be re-signed and re-acknowledged or could the notary simply cross through the incorrect date, complete the correct date and initial?

National Notary Association

31 May 2017

Hello. The signer should contact the receiving agency and ask which option they will accept for the correction.

Donna Fitzgerald

02 Aug 2017

I recently had new health directives made by my lawyer and he only put she on the notary form he prepared. My previous lawyer, who was also a notary, never put he/she/they

Jaswant Singh

28 Jul 2020

can I change the preprinted county name on an acknowledgement in California?

National Notary Association

29 Jul 2020

Hello. You can correct incorrect information in a California Notary certificate, but only during the actual notarization while the signer is still in your presence. For more information, please see here:

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