Is A Fountain Pen Good For A Signature?

To establish whether it is a good idea to sign in fountain pen, we must consider the type of documents being signed and the type and color of the ink you use. A signature is supposed to be unique to the person signing and must not be easily reproduced or altered afterward.

You can sign legal documents, bank forms, cheques, and official papers with a fountain pen, but the ink must be blue or black, permanent and waterproof. Some lawyers and officials won’t allow signature with a fountain pen. If you are signing business or social correspondence, ordinary ink is fine.

The reason for the signature, the type and color of the ink, and the quality of the paper are all important considerations when using a fountain pen to sign. If the document is to be stored in an archive for later use or legal purposes, as a record of a transaction or a contract, it is important to sign using the right materials.

The Reason For The Signature

Before the invention of the ballpoint pen, documents of all kinds were signed with fountain pens and, before them, quill pens. The signature was often made in conjunction with sealing wax and a seal. The ink used for signature in days gone by was likely to be iron gall or Registrar’s ink, which are more durable but, in the case of iron gall ink, also more acidic.

If the document to be signed is a will or a contract that needs to last for many years, do not sign it with ordinary fountain pen ink or fancy colors. Your signature must stand the test of time. The ink must also be as tamperproof as possible, so ordinary, water-based fountain pen inks are out of the question.

If a document needs to be archived for a long time in government or other official records, such as a birth or death certificate, acidic inks are not a good idea.    

The importance of your signature on a document is that it shows that you personally created it, witnessed it, accepted it, agreed to it, or acknowledge the truth of its contents. A signature is like giving your word in writing.

You can be identified from your signature if there is a subsequent dispute, and you can use it to show that someone else fraudulently executed the document pretending to be you. Your signature can also hold you legally bound by what you have signed.

While black ink is still acceptable, blue ink is increasingly preferred nowadays because the color makes it easier to show that the document is original, as opposed to a copy. This is because ordinary photocopiers show the signature as black. As the ink fades with time, a document signed in black ink could be confused with a photocopy.

US Presidents in recent years have used the Cross Townsend pen with black or blue, medium felt tip refills to sign official documents. Some of them favored Sharpies.

The Type And Color Of The Ink

Although today’s iron gall inks are far less acidic than they were in historical times, they may still damage some of the flimsy types of paper we use today. If you sign a credit card application or a check with the wrong color ink, this could trigger a fraud alert or even nullify the check. Banks commonly ask people to sign in blue ink when applying for a credit card.

This is because the blue stands out on a page filled with black print and distinguishes the document from a photocopy. Fraudsters tend to use photocopied documents because they can’t get their hands on the original. A certified and court-qualified forensic handwriting expert has said that it is easier to see that a document is the original if it is signed in blue ink.

Signing a check in red ink could delay the honoring of the check because it raises suspicion. This harks back to the days when banks would circle a signature in red ink if it were suspect, so the financial services industry sees red ink as a “red alert” that something isn’t right.

When a document is scanned using a laser, the red light turns the whole thing red. If the signature ink is also red, it doesn’t show up when scanned. Some types of document scanners can’t detect or identify unusual colors and raise an alarm that there may be processing issues with a check.

Many international contracts are now signed in blue ink because black ink lends itself to fraud and forgery disputes. Most modern fountain pen inks are water-based, which means that they will dissolve in water and be washed from a document using acetone. When signing any kind of legal document or form, always use black or blue ink.

While ballpoint is generally a lot safer than most fountain pen inks, it is not infallible when it comes to money business by fraudsters.

If you regularly sign many legal documents in the course of your work and want to use a fountain pen, make sure that the ink you use is permanent. Keep the fountain pen filled with Registrar’s ink and use only that pen for signatures. Diamine makes a blue-black archival Registrar’s ink based on an iron fall formulation.

Iron-gall inks are destructive to fountain pens, so don’t use them in any expensive pen. Some people have said that Diamine Archival Registrar’s ink is not safe to use on a long-term basis because it did not perform well and is associated with pen corrosion.

Inks in the Noodlers Warden’s Series are some of the most fraud resistance inks available. If a Noodlers ink is described as “bulletproof,” it means that it resists forgers’ tricks such as UV light, alcohol, and other solvents such as carpet and oven cleaner and petrochemicals alter signatures.

Noodler’s Polar Inks are also classed as bulletproof, and according to the website, they sell more than 220 inks with this classification. These Noodlers inks are also waterproof after drying on cellulose paper.

The Type Of Paper

Fountain pens don’t work well on poor quality, flimsy paper, and the ink may blot and bleed through to the other side. This is a problem if you are signing multiple copies interleaved with carbon paper. Some people have reported that in the US, many notaries will not allow you to sign official documents with a fountain pen.

If the paper is too flimsy, the sharp nib of the pen might tear or damage it. Thus, it would be wise to carry a blue ballpoint pen or rollerball with you for signing lightweight papers such as till slips, certain forms, and legal documents if an institution does not allow signature with a fountain pen.

While most fountain pens can write on regular paper without any trouble, you should choose inks that will write well on a wide range of paper and a nib that is not too wet.

It is a good idea to keep a fountain pen with a fine nib that does not release a great deal of ink onto the paper only for signing documents, since you will need to use waterproof ink in it, which may damage a valuable pen. You will need to clean the pen out often with this type of ink because it can clog the feed more easily.


You can sign many different types of documents with a fountain pen but be aware of the risks associated with legal documents. For these, you need to use ink that is waterproof and permanent. In some situations, lawyers, bank officials, and other professionals will ask you to sign with their chosen pen, which could be a blue or black ballpoint.

Please note that nothing in this post must be taken as legal advice.

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