When a printed name on a doc is not exactly the same as the signature

Hi again (!)

I understand the ‘less not more’ rule for names and sigs on documents compared IDs but what about signatures and how they compare to the printed name on the document where this signature is placed? So is it okay for a borrower’s signature on a loan document to not include their middle name even when the printed name that they are signing above includes a middle name or initial? Thanks (again!)

No…they MUST sign as their name is printed on the doc. With loan docs, that’s how they took title, that’s who owns the property, so that’s how they have to sign. As annoying as they think this is, it’s important that they comply.

1 Like

Hi Linda,
Sorry! Just to clarify…so if the printed name on the loan doc says John D Bloggs their signature must include the ‘D’ in it? Even if that signature will then be different to the one on their driver’s license or whatever ID they have used? And even if they normally sign as John Bloggs rather than John D. Bloggs?

Or, like that ‘less not more’ rule, as long as they don’t add an initial or name in their signature, they can sign John Bloggs when the printed name says John D Bloggs?

Thanks again!

So I’m worried that this means the signature they are writing on the loan documents can be different to the signature on the ID they’ve given you? Also, that they may never use this signature style except on this loan document… Is that okay?


The borrower MUST sign exactly as the printed name under the signature line. If it says John D. Bloggs then the borrower MUST sign exactly that way, no matter what document it is. You may not allow the borrower to vary his signature from the way it is printed. It is not uncommon for the borrower’s name to be John Bloggs on one document and John D. Bloggs on another document. You must tell the borrower to sign exactly the way the name is typed or printed on each document. Any variation can result in document not being accepted by the County Recorder.

…thanks Janice, and for your other answer.

There are people who sign their name as a scribble. It is not readable. They insist that they never sign their middle initial or name. They state, “if I sign my name with my middle initial, then that is not my signature.” I have read many, many articles about this. Basically, if you have them sign their name or force them to sign their name other than what they are used too, then you may be asking them to “forge” their signature.

Then I would suggest the confirmation is in the wording - just let them know the lender requires them to sign their name as printed under the signature line…then confirm that the “scribble” says everything under the line. As far as forgery? If their name is John D. Doe and their ID shows John D. Doe and they sign John D. Doe, even though they normally don’t sign that way, there’s no way that’s forgery.


1 Like

As stated, the research I have done - you cannot force someone to sign a signature different from the signature that they use.
We can agree to disagree. If they are adamant and clearly state, “it is not my signature.” Place a call to the lender and keep meticulous notes.

As a Notary, you can’t force anyone to do anything. You simply tell the individual, this is the lenders request that you sign exactly as your name is printed under the signature line, because this is the way you took Title on the property. Signers want to argue about legal signature.

I simply ask if they wanted to change their signature tomorrow, who is stopping them from doing so? I am there as an impartial witness to watch them sign the document with the signature that is printed under the signature line. I tell them, you have your customary signature and this is the signature you must use on these Mortgage docs or they could be rejected by Lender. I can’t tell you what to do, just saying what the lender is requesting.

I still get arguments with people saying, if someone asked, I can say that’s not my signature. My response, well you appeared before me, I watched you sign, I have your signature and thumbprint on each document I notarized for you in my journal. Usually they will concede. However; if they want to proceed with their customary signature, I do let the party know that contracted with me, that the individuals do not want to deviate from their customary signature. Let Title or Lender speak with them. My job is not to argue with anyone.

1 Like

As a notary we must all be aware that the ID a borrower provides you for identification “must match” or “exceed” the signature required on the document. For example: ID says John Joe Doe and the Document says John D. Doe he can sign as John D. Doe. On the other hand If the ID Says John D. Doe and the document requires John Joe Doe, then you cannot notarize as it is NOT the same person as shown on the document.

…thanks Jmalone, that recounting of your thought process and experience helps a lot. Can I ask you one more question? So do you think it is okay to apply the NNA’s ‘less not more’ rule here too? In other words, if the printed name is John James Bloggs and their signature is of the form J J Bloggs is that considered okay? Or do we really have to be super exact and make sure their signature contains each of their names written out fully?
kind regards

You might have a typo here…neither one of the instances are valid. “If the ID says John Joe Doe and the doc says John D. Doe”, that’s two different people too.

Well, John Joe Doe can also be John J. Doe

Your are correct It was a typo


…thanks Jmalone, that recounting of your thought process and experience helps a lot. Can I ask you one more question? So do you think it is okay to apply the NNA’s ‘less not more’ rule here too? In other words, if the printed name is John James Bloggs and their signature is of the form J J Bloggs is that considered okay? Or do we really have to be super exact and make sure their signature contains each of their names written out fully?
kind regards

Danny, Hard to explain on a forum, but if you have asked the borrower to sign as their name is printed under signature line by request of lender and they sign J J Bloggs and they say that is John written out for them and the other J is James written out for them, fine. Especially if they have an illegible signature. I know, clear as mud.

Some people sign their names with one initial for each name. Like John D. Doe. If they already sign with the necessary signature and it matches ID, then you’re good to go. Common sense does enter into equation.

All rules and laws go out the window though when dealing with Provident, one of the strictest and pickiest lenders out there. Good Luck!

Always remember to follow your State laws and not rules that are not " law" by various people and organizations.

The title company and lender will be happier if the signature is either illegible (so no one can say it doesn’t match the document) or is exactly the same as the document. But title and/or lenders often impose their own made-up rules that go beyond what is legally necessary, to make it easier to sell the loan with no hassles. I strongly suspect if someone tried to get out of paying their mortgage because they signed “John Doe” and the document said “John P. Doe”, at the end of the day the sheriff would toss them out of the house on his behind.

The “more not less” rule seems to be a myth as far as I can tell; no one has ever been able to show me any binding law or rule that says that. The Revised Uniform Law on Notarial Acts, which has been adopted by several states, says in the commentary on page 18

Identification of an individual based on an identification credential requires some flexibility. For example, it is not uncommon that an individual’s name as used in a record may be a full name, including a full middle name; however, the name of the individual as provided on the identification credential may only use a middle initial or none at all. The inconsistency may be vice versa instead. The notarial officer should recognize these common inconsistencies when performing the identification of an individual. However, if a notarial officer is ultimately uncertain about the identity of the individual, the notarial officer should refuse to perform the notarial act (see Section 8.)

So an influential organization and the several states that have adopted this act don’t agree with the “more not less” rule.

…thanks Ashton (sorry for the radio silence), that was very helpful and so is your link to the Revised Uniform Law on Notarial Acts. It does seem like common sense, rather than binding rules, are the main guide in a lot of these grey areas where the title co/lenders haven’t explicitly said what they want.

If some ID issue is not spelled out in the laws and rules of your state, and you decline to notarize because you’re not confident that the person who appeared before you really is known by name he/she is using, then you are declining as a notary. Of course, if the ID meets the lender or title company requirements, but not your state laws and rules, then you must decline even though the lender or title company wants you to continue.

If the person’s ID meets all the laws and rules for your state, and you are confident the person is known by the name he/she is signing, but the ID doesn’t meet the requirements of the lender or title company, then you are declining as an agent of the signing company or lender, rather than as a notary. An example of that would be if a title company required me to view current government photo id, but the signer is an old friend of mine who’s driver license just expired. The law in my state allows me to notarize on the basis of personal knowledge, but that wouldn’t be ok with the title company.

1 Like

there is usually a document included in the package that contains the valid signatures of the borrower(s) including with a middle initial or without one, only first and middle initials with the last name, or even full first, middle and last names, or other variable signatures. These are usually taken from the merged credit report and the borrower(s) swear that these are all valid variations of their name and signatures. It is not the duty of the notary to determine what the valid signature is, but it is the duty of the notary to have the borrower(s) sign the documents the way the lender has prepared them.