When a signer is physically unable to write his or her signature and can only make an X, the X is called the signer’s “mark” and the procedure is called “signature by mark.” For you to notarize such a mark, two people must watch, or witness, the signer make his or her mark on the document. One of the two witnesses must print the signer’s name next to the mark, and both witnesses must sign their own names on the document as witnesses to the mark (Civil Code, section 14).
When you make your journal entry for a signature by mark, the signer must make his or her mark in the column where the signer normally would write his or her signature. One person must witness the signer make his or her mark in the journal. That witness must print the signer’s name next to the mark and must sign his or her own name in the journal as a witness to the mark. The witness to the mark in the journal may be one of the witnesses to the mark on the document, or you (the Notary) can do it. Unless one of the witnesses to the mark on the document also serves as the witness to the mark in the journal, you are not required to record the names or signatures of the two witnesses in your journal (2012 California Notary Public Handbook). The NNA recommends, however, that you record at least the names of the two witnesses in your journal, because this information could prove useful if there were ever a question about the transaction.
Notaries in states other than California who are faced with performing a signature by mark should consult their state laws for additional requirements.
For more information on this topic, you can also check out the NNA’s Signature By Mark Webinar in our webinar archives.