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What Color Pen Should Be Used for Legal Documents?

Written by Robert S. Brown / Fact checked by Helen B. Harris

what color pen should be used for legal documents

When you’re adulting, chances are you’re starting to deal with some necessary legal documents. These could involve processing credit cards, home loans, insurance, and a whole lot more.

Apart from the serious legal concerns, one of the common questions frequently asked is what color pen should be used for legal documents.

The safest way to write on legal documents is to use standard black and blue pens. However, there may be exceptions and disadvantages. Keep reading to learn more.

Proper Ink Color for Legal Documents


When it comes to legal documents, you may not be allowed to use just any pen color you like.

There are two pen colors that are often preferred: black and blue. Other colors are not necessarily restricted, but note that they may cause you trouble or delays for a couple of reasons, such as the signatures appearing less visible and not registering on scanners or photocopiers.

The pen color selection might also depend on the legal document you refer to. There may be no official law that states the exact ink colors allowed for legal documents. Still, institutions and organizations often set their own rules on that matter.

What’s more, in psychology, ink colors can create different human perceptions. Red ink is often associated with error or danger, for example, and banks often think of red ink as suspicious or fraudulent.

Common Scenarios Where Ink Color May Be Relevant

1. Bank transactions


When you sign a check, apply for a credit card, or process other bank transactions, some banks would specify you use a specific pen color that could either be black or blue.

There are two reasons for this practice. First, most bank documents are printed in black and white. Practically, a blue ink signature is a lot easier to recognize on these types of documents.

Second, making several copies of your document is part of most bank processes. It’s easier to distinguish an original copy from a photocopy when blue ink is used, as black ink tends to just blend in.

Other colors, such as red should be avoided as your check may instantly be invalidated or worse, the signature may disappear during scanning or photocopying.

In this case, it’s clear enough that the ideal pen color to be used when writing checks and other bank documents is blue. That’s it if you want to have a smooth transaction.

Related: Blue or Black Ink: What Colour Ink Is More Professional?

2. Notaries


Another common scenario where pen color is important would be signing notaries. Using a blue or black pen for a notary signature is generally acceptable. Other colored pens are permissible as well, since states often have no laws regarding this matter.

However, these documents need to be reproduced, and the ability of the pen color to be scannable is crucial. With that in mind, using a blue pen would be more advantageous than other pigments.

Other than the color of the signature, getting the legal ink color of the notary stamp for most states in the US is way more important. Requirements can vary, with some states stipulating black while others demanding another shade like purple, blue, or green.

3. Passports


The next example would be pen colors for signing a passport. It is important to note that a passport should be signed by the bearer to make it valid.

When we talk about government-issued documents, like passports, rulings such as ink color requirements do vary across issuing countries. Some countries are not that particular, but others like the UK are very specific.

The UK government wants a passport signature written in black with a ballpoint pen, while in the US, you have the option to use any black or blue pen for signature, except ballpoint pens.

Those are the most common scenarios. Now, how about other professional documents? The first thing to do is to ask or check for instructions to see if your organization requires specific pen colors before signing.

Moreover, whenever you are unsure, it is safe to use a blue pen for signatories involving financial documents. Reserve black color ink to sign legal documents, contracts, and other formal documents.

The Significance of Ink Colors on Legal Papers


When discussing legal documents, the ink color used is significant for various reasons. The primary concern is ensuring that the written details are clear and easy to read for all parties concerned.

  • To ensure readability, it is best to utilize dark-colored inks like black or blue that are both legible and visible. This also gives assurance that the written details register well when scanned or reproduced.

Light-colored inks are not recommended, since they may be too faint to read or fade easily, resulting in ambiguity.

  • Additionally, it is advisable to choose permanent inks, preferably those with archival quality, to ensure that the written details remain legible and resist fading over time.

Things to Keep in Mind When Signing Legal Documents

  • Avoid using pencils and erasable pens on legal documents. Otherwise, you are exposing these documents to unfavorable amendments. Use permanent pens instead.
  • Always read and scrutinize the whole document before signing. If you see vague areas, it is best that you clarify them first or consult a lawyer before signing.
  • Make sure your signature is written legibly.
  • Do not forget to have it dated.
  • Get one original signed copy of the document for safekeeping and future reference.


What color pen should be used for legal documents generally depends on the type of document and the policy surrounding it.

In normal settings, standard pens in black and blue are typically preferred. These colors are more formal, scannable, and legible as compared to any other pen color.

Blue pens are best for anything that involves financing, such as signing checks and credit card applications. On the other, black pens are excellent for signing contracts, notaries, or any legal documents.

Additionally, always make it a habit to read instructions and check if a pen color is specifically stated before anything else.

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