The Significance of Ink Colors on Legal Papers

By Wayne Thomas
Image of man signing a document.

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Ink color may havr different meanings in different lines of work. For example, teachers customarily use red ink to grade papers, and in the business world, black ink is generally considered more professional than "louder" colors like purple or pink. In many cases, these preferences are simply a matter of industry practice rather than binding rules. However, when it comes to papers filed with courts, some jurisdictions have specific rules regarding the color of ink to be used when signing original documents.

Ink Colors

Documents submitted to a court, including motions, complaints, and other requests, must follow the formatting guidelines contained in the court's local rules of procedure. These rules can be strict and vary considerably from court to court. In some jurisdictions, the rules do not specify what color of ink should be used on legal documents. But, other jurisdictions, such as the Ross County Court in Ohio, require that blue ink be used when signing documents. This rule is in place to ensure that the judge is able to distinguish between the original document and any copies. Failure to sign the document in blue ink in jurisdictions that require it can result in a court order to resubmit the documents, and you also may be reprimanded by the judge. It is always good practice to research the local rules of procedure or consult an attorney before you submit any paperwork to the court.

About the Author

Wayne Thomas earned his J.D. from Penn State University and has been practicing law since 2008. He has experience writing about environmental topics, music and health, as well as legal issues. Since 2011, Thomas has also served as a contributing editor for the "Vermont Environmental Monitor."

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