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Test Yourself: How good are your Notary journal practices?


1. What should you do with your journal when it’s not being used?

A. Put it on my bookshelf in a visible place so I know where to find it.
B. Keep it on my desk in easy reach in case I’m asked to notarize something on short notice.
C. Lock it in a safe or desk drawer so it can’t be stolen or improperly accessed.
D. Turn it over to my manager or boss to make sure it’s in safe hands when not in use.

Answer: C. A journal contains sensitive private information about signers that, in the wrong hands, could be used for identity theft or other crimes. That’s why your seal and journal always must be stored in a secure location under your sole control when not in use. Also, remember that your tools aren’t ordinary office supplies like staplers or pencil sharpeners. Your Notary journal can’t be handed over to someone else for safekeeping; you are responsible for storing and protecting it.

2. True or False. In most states, if your employer pays for your Notary commission, the employer keeps your Notary journal if you quit your job.

A. True
B. False

Answer: False. Just because an employer paid for your Notary seal and journal doesn’t automatically entitle them to keep those tools if you leave the business. In most states, you always keep your Notary tools. However, a few states, such as Arizona and Oregon, have exceptions to this rule. Employers and Notaries must familiarize themselves with state laws regarding ownership of a Notary’s tools and always follow those rules.

3. Can a Notary use ditto marks when recording the same information for multiple journal entries?

A. Yes, this practice is always acceptable.
B. Yes, but only if state law does not prohibit doing so.
C. Yes, but only when notarizing in an office setting.
D. Yes, but only when notarizing real estate documents.

Answer: B. When entering duplicate information in multiple journal entries, some Notaries have asked the NNA if they may use ditto marks instead of filling in the same information several times. The answer is yes for Notaries in most states. However, not every state allows the use of ditto marks in a Notary journal. California and Hawaii require Notaries to make a full journal entry for each notarial act, for example.

4. What should I do with older journals once they are full?

A. Keep them in a safe place until you must turn them in or destroy them.
B. Recycle them, making sure you turn them in personally to a recycling center.
C. Throw them out after marking an “X” across each page.
D. Mail them to your local district attorney’s office by certified mail.

Answer: A. Generally, states with journal laws have rules for keeping and disposing of Notary journals. Some states, such as Colorado or California, require you to keep all journal records until you stop being a Notary, then turn them over to a government agency. Other states allow you to destroy journals after a certain period of time. Always follow your state’s requirements regarding storage and disposal of completed journals.

5. True or False. It’s better to wait to write the journal entry until after the notarization is completed and the signer has left.

A. True
B. False

Answer: False. The journal entry should be recorded while the signer is still there with you and before you complete the notarization. This way you’ll be able to obtain all necessary information needed for the journal entry to protect yourself, such as a signature and thumbprint. Also, if the customer leaves before you complete the notarization, you will be left without the customer’s signature in your journal entry, which is required in some states. 

David Thun is the Assistant Managing Editor with the National Notary Association.

Related Articles:

How to handle requests for your Notary journal entries

2007 Notary of the Year recalls how keeping a journal validated her best practices

Notary's journal key evidence in high-profile criminal trial

Additional Resources:

NNA Webinar: How to Complete a Journal Entry

View All: Quizzes


Add your comment


09 Jan 2017

It helps me to keep me up to date with state laws and I got them all right.

Mona Meza

10 Jan 2017

Question: what should notaries do if there are any abundance of notarizations in a single singing?? There is hardly any room to record all notarized docs in my modern journal.

National Notary Association

10 Jan 2017

Hello Mona. Notaries should always follow the rules of their state regarding journal entries. If you can tell us what state you are from, we can provide a more detailed answer.

Karolyn Helms

13 Jan 2017

I got all the questions right. Common sense and keeping on the current state laws is likely to protect you and your notary practice.

Freddie Kennedy

15 Jan 2017

Exercises like this will help notaries keep up with undates that will enhance their capabilities. Keeping current with today's laws is essential.

Clyde Taylor

20 Feb 2017

In California, when notarizing loan docs that may have 5 docs that need to notarized, does the notary public need to make separate journal for each doc with a signature and thumb print for each?

Neil kleeger

15 Mar 2017

Yes you do. 5 notarization, 5 entries

Martha Melgoza

05 Feb 2019

Hi I am from California. Can I notarize a permission to travel for a minor for my niece?

National Notary Association

06 Feb 2019

Hello. Yes, as long as you do not have a direct financial or beneficial interest in the document.

Al Johnson

06 Feb 2024

U got all of the questions correct. It’s good to stay fresh about the basics

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