Notary Glossary: Common Terms and Abbreviations

Welcome to our Notary Glossary, where you can find a comprehensive list of common terms and abbreviations used in the field of notary public. As a notary, it is essential to understand these terms and abbreviations to effectively carry out your duties and provide accurate notarial services. Whether you’re a seasoned notary or just starting your career in the profession, this glossary will serve as a valuable resource to enhance your knowledge and ensure clarity in your notarial practice.



Acknowledgment: An act in which a notary certifies having positively identified a document signer who personally appeared before the notary and admitted to having signed the document.

Administer: To formally give, such as “giving” an oath or affirmation.

Administrative Penalty: Punishment imposed by regulatory authorities on notaries, including revocation, suspension, denial of commission, fines, or mandatory education, for violating notarial regulations.

Affiant: The signer of an affidavit.

Affidavit: A written statement signed before a notary by a person who swears or affirms its truth.

Affirmation: A spoken, solemn promise made before a notary, with no reference to a Supreme Being, usually in relation to a jurat or as a separate notarial act.

Apostille: An authenticating certificate required by the Hague Convention to simplify the authentication process for notarized documents sent between participating countries.

Attorney in Fact: A person who has the legal authority to sign on behalf of another individual.

Authentication: The process of proving the genuineness of a notary’s signature and seal, usually through the attachment of a certificate of authority.

Awareness: The ability to understand what is happening and to act responsibly.


Bond: A written guarantee that ensures financial compensation up to a specified limit will be paid by a surety in the event of a notary’s misconduct.


Capacity: The specific role of a representative signer, such as an attorney-in-fact, trustee, corporate officer, or partner, when signing on behalf of another person, organization, or legal entity.

Certificate: A document completed, signed, and sealed by a notary that provides the particulars of a notarization, typically appearing at the end of a signed document or on an attached paper. Also known as the “Statement of Particulars” or the “Notary block.”

Certificate Form: Notarial certificate wording on a separate sheet of paper attached to a document when no provided wording complies with state requirements, there is no space for the seal on the document, or a preprinted certificate has already been used.

Certificate of Authority: A document stating that the signature and seal on an attached document belong to a legitimate notary or other authorized official. Also referred to as a “Certificate of Capacity.”

Certified Copy: A document certified by a notary or other official to be an accurate reproduction of the original.

Chain Certification: A traditional authentication procedure that requires the sequential attachment of certificates of authority, each validating the authenticity of the preceding one.

Chain of Personal Knowledge: The knowledge of identity linking the notary with the signer through a credible identifying witness, establishing the signer’s identity. The notary personally knows and can identify the credible witness, and the credible witness personally knows and can identify the document signer.

Civil Penalty: Payment of funds by a notary resulting from a lawsuit to recover financial losses claimed to have been caused by the notary’s misconduct.

Combined Acknowledgment Certificate: An acknowledgment certificate wording indicating a person signed in two or more representative capacities.

Commission: The authorization to perform notarial acts, typically issued by a state’s governor, secretary of state, or other empowering official. Also known as an “appointment” in some states and jurisdictions.

Copy Certification: A notarial act in which a notary certifies that a copy of an original document is true and accurate. The notary compares the copy to the original document and affirms its authenticity.

Credible Witness: A person who personally knows the document signer and appears before the notary to vouch for the signer’s identity when the signer lacks satisfactory identification documents. The credible witness takes an oath or affirmation to confirm the signer’s identity.


Deed: A legal document that transfers ownership of real estate or property from one party to another.

Disqualification: The act of a notary being barred from performing notarial acts due to legal or ethical reasons, such as a conflict of interest, relationship with the signer, or lack of impartiality.


Embosser: A notary tool that creates a raised or embossed seal impression on paper, providing a tactile mark of authenticity.

Error and Omission Insurance: Professional liability insurance that protects notaries from financial loss due to errors, omissions, or negligence in the performance of notarial duties.



Jurat: A notarial act in which a signer makes a sworn or affirmed statement under oath, and the notary certifies the acknowledgment of the oath.


Lien: A legal claim or right against a property as security for a debt or obligation.


Misconduct: Improper or unethical behavior by a notary, including violations of notarial laws, regulations, or standards of practice.


Notarial Journal: A chronological record maintained by a notary, documenting all notarial acts performed, including details of the documents, signers, and any additional information required by law.

Notary Public: A public officer appointed by the state government to serve as an impartial witness and perform certain legal acts, including acknowledgments, jurats, and certified copies.


Personal Appearance: The physical presence of a signer before a notary at the time of a notarial act, ensuring the identification and verification of the signer’s willingness to sign.


Seal: An official mark or emblem used by a notary to authenticate notarial acts. It may include the notary’s name, jurisdiction, commission number, and expiration date.

Signature by Mark: A notarial act in which a person who is unable to sign their name makes a mark (such as a thumbprint) in the presence of a notary, who then completes the notarization.

Solemnize: To perform or officiate at a marriage ceremony, with legal authority to solemnize marriages.


Venue: The geographic location, usually a county or jurisdiction, where a notarial act takes place.


Witness: A person who observes the signing of a document and affirms that the signature is genuine by signing the document as a witness.

By familiarizing yourself with these notary terms and abbreviations, you will be better equipped to navigate the complexities of notarial practices and provide professional and reliable services to your clients. Remember to consult the specific laws and regulations of your jurisdiction for precise guidelines on notarial acts and responsibilities.

Experienced Instructors: Our instructors are industry experts with extensive experience in the notary field. They bring a wealth of knowledge and practical insights to the training, ensuring you receive top-quality instruction and guidance.





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