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How To Correct Notary Journal Entries

POAJournalNew2Updated 2-19-19. Your journal entries provide an important record of your notarizations, so it's important to get the details right. But if you make a mistake in your journal, here's what you should know.

While most states either require (like Pennsylvania) or recommend (like Florida) that Notaries keep a journal, none offer specific rules about making corrections to an entry. The NNA’s Hotline counselors frequently receive calls from Notaries who have made all kinds of mistakes, including:

  • Entering the signer’s wrong address or inappropriate ID information (Texas Notaries are prohibited from recording ID numbers in their journal entries).
  • Entering the wrong document title or omitting it altogether.
  • Having signers write their signatures in the wrong space.
  • Failing to obtain the signer’s signature and thumbprint (California requires the signer's thumbprint for the journal entry if the document is a power of attorney, deed, quitclaim deed, deed of trust or other document affecting real property).

Here are a few things to keep in mind.

When The Signer Is Still There
 

Most of the time, you will discover a mistake while you’re completing the journal entry. Say, for example, you wrote the wrong street in the address box. The simplest way to make the correction is as follows (note: for the purpose of describing these tips, we’ll assume you are using the NNA’s Official Journal of Notarial Acts):

  • Line through the incorrect information.
  • Write the correct information in the same box, if there is room to write it legibly.
  • If there is not enough space in the same box, use the box in the line below the entry. There is no rule that says you can only use one line per journal entry.

You also may make a notation about the correction in the “additional information” box.

If you have two or more signers and multiple notarizations, it can be easy to get information mixed up between journal entries. For example, you're handling a loan signing for a couple and one partner signs the box for the other’s journal entries and vice versa.

  • Cross out the signature and have the partners sign the correct signature spaces.
  • If there isn’t enough room for the signers to sign the correct entries — if, for example, you’re a California Notary and the signers also have placed their thumbprints in the wrong spaces, then correct the other line entries (Name and Address of Signer column, Identification of Signer column, etc.) to make them match.
  • Note an explanation in each journal entry.
  • If the resulting corrections will render the entries illegible, then start over and create new entries. It is better to be legible and correct than illegible.

When The Signer Has Left
 

What happens if you discover a mistake after the signer is long gone? If your state requires you to record the signer’s ID number in the journal, for example, but you forget, you can try to contact the signer to see if they will give you the information, but that may not be possible in many instances. Your best course of action is to note the omission in the “additional information” box of the journal entry.

Do's And Don’ts
 

If you rush the process of completing journal entries, you’re more likely to make a mistake. So take your time and make sure to record all the information correctly. It also can help to double-check an entry.

Don’t use correction fluid or tape to cover over a mistake and then write on top of it. The fluid or tape could come off.

If you discover a mistake sometime later, don’t cross out the entire entry and make a new one. Many states have laws that require the entries to be in sequential order, meaning they must be recorded chronologically. The Notary Public Code of Professional Responsibility recommends entries be made at the time the notarization was performed. If you make a new entry, it is likely to be out of order.

If the notarization is called into question, the fact that your journal entry is out of order could damage your credibility in any legal proceeding.

Michael Lewis is Managing Editor of member publications for the National Notary Association.

 

 

15 Comments

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Leona Jeffery

11 Feb 2017

Am browsing for helpful info

integrityoffice@yahoo.com

13 Feb 2017

reading

usha CHALASANI

13 Feb 2017

thanks

Verne Gordon

15 Feb 2017

I'd like to make a comment. As a California Notary; if there are two persons or multiple signers, it's my policy to do each journal entry separately for one signer at a time. That lessens the chances of mixing up signers identifications, signatures, etc. Sure..I've had a couple of instances where I make mistakes on journal lines, but they are more readily correctable on a single signer. I normally line through the error; initial and date it and then make the correction.

James Wallert

19 Feb 2018

How can there be an error in a journal that Florida does not require being kept? If a Florida Notary keeps "notes" on notarizations that they perform in a "journal" would it not be just their personal notes?

National Notary Association

20 Feb 2018

Hello James. While keeping a journal is not required by law in Florida, if a Florida Notary chooses to do so it is still important to enter accurate information, but sometimes a Notary may make mistakes doing so. (For example, spelling a signer's name incorrectly or writing an incorrect date of notarization) In those situations, it is still iimportant to know how to correct errors in the journal entry.

Mary Feaster

19 Feb 2018

Good comment, Verne. I’m a long time CA notary and do the same thing. Each signer gets a line in my journal. I make corrections like you do, as well, with my initials. All of this helps me stay organized and my journal looks neat and tidy.

John W. Knight Sr.

20 Feb 2018

These articles are so very informative. I really appreciate them. THANK YOU!

Jennifer

21 Mar 2018

What should you do if signer doesn’t sign your book but you watched them sign their documents?

National Notary Association

22 Mar 2018

Hello Jennifer. To help us answer your question can you please tell us what state you are commissioned in?

Josh

31 Jul 2018

what if someone fill-out the book with out your knowledge.

National Notary Association

01 Aug 2018

Hello. In most states, the journal is required to be under the Notary's sole control. Can you tell us what state you are in and provide more details, please?

Michelle Riesenberg

25 Feb 2019

I am a notary with the state of Iowa and have been since 2001. Although I have not looked at the laws regarding notary practices and multiple signers specifically, I have always made it a practice to have each signer on a separate line because the journal I have does not have room for multiple signers for one entry. And, due to people having various styles of handwriting, it is just easier to have each signer on their own separate line. It's also more legible that way.

Michelle Riesenberg

25 Feb 2019

I am a notary with the state of Iowa and have been since 2001. Although I have not looked at the laws regarding notary practices and multiple signers specifically, I have always made it a practice to have each signer on a separate line because the journal I have does not have room for multiple signers for one entry. And, due to people having various styles of handwriting, it is just easier to have each signer on their own separate line. It's also more legible that way.

Hugh (WA)

25 Feb 2019

"While most states either require (like Pennsylvania)...notaries to keep a journal." - also Washington. I realize printing the whole list would disrupt the paragraph, how about a footnote to the complete list of states requiring journal in future editions of this topic?

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