Black vs Blue Ink: What Color Ink Is More Professional?

What color ink is more professional? Black ink, blue ink, old ink, new ink, home ink, work ink, what the heck do YOU think? It’s confusing! The debate over black vs blue ink goes something like this: 

  • Legal documents: Blue
  • Passport paperwork: Black
  • Credit card application: Blue
  • Check endorsement: Black
  • Taking notes in class: Blue

Holy moly! Where’s the rhyme? Where’s the reason? When addressing the black vs blue ink conundrum, seems like our best bet is to recommend a multi-ink pen and call it a day (FYI, here’s a good one: Soft Touch Paragon Multi-Ink Stylus Pen). But we love a good riddle and we’re going to dig a little deeper than that. Below we unpack which color ink to pack for signing, filing, endorsing, and otherwise taking care of business on the daily. 

When Is Blue Ink Best?

When you want to see that signature easily against a sea of black print, and confirm the signature’s not a copy, blue is best.   

  • Credit Card Applications: Trying to get a credit card? Reach for the blue ink pen! Banks prefer blue because it’s easier to verify that the signature is legitimate and the documents are original when they’re signed in blue ink. Unlike black ink, a blue ink signature isn’t as easy to reproduce. If a document is signed in blue, it offers fraud detectors an easier “tell” if the signature isn’t the original, inked version.
  • Other Financial Documents: Similar to credit card paperwork, a blue ink signature on other financial documents is harder to reproduce and easily differentiates an original document from a copy.
  • Legal Documents: What color ink should be used to sign legal documents? When you’ve got to initial here, check there, and sign on the dotted line, page after page, the person checking the document wants to spot your John Hancock easily and differentiate quickly between the original document you signed, and the million copies they need to make for distribution to various and sundry interested parties. For these reasons, blue ink is best (and sincerely appreciated) by legal professionals far and wide.
  • Notarizing: Although there is no law about which ink color should be used to notarize documents (in fact, a law requiring that notary public signatures be in black was repealed in 20131) most notaries prefer blue ink. It’s easy to tell an original from a copy.
  • Students, Studiers, Memorizers Alike: Blue is a cool, calming color and contrasts well, though not jarringly, against black. This means if you’re reviewing printed text, which is usually black, and you make notes in blue, your notes stand out more on the page—and in your head on test day.

When Is Black Ink Best?

For documents that will be scanned or photocopied or where your signature is ultra important (like in a passport application), it’s best to use black ink. Though dark blue ink may be acceptable, who wants to take the chance and run the risk of a paperwork rejection just because you didn’t have a black ink pen handy? Tip: If you’re the one handing out the forms or helping with the paperwork, set your customer up for success by giving them a customized black ink pen to complete their paperwork and keep afterward for long-term branding. 

  • Making Copies: Black ink tends to copy and scan better than any other ink color. Go with black and save everyone the hassle of hard-to-read documents.
  • Check Endorsements: The best pen for signature of a check is one with black ink. The contrast between black ink and a white or light-colored check is ideal for authentication, and black ink scans better.
  • Passport Application: Passport forms should be filled in using black ink.2 Passport forms get copied and digitized, and black ink tends to scan better than blue, which can show up very light depending upon the shade of blue ink used.
  • Tax Forms: If you’re only signing your tax returns, blue or black ink is fine. On the other hand, if you’re filling out tax forms by hand, only black ink can be used so the forms can be easily scanned.3

What Colors Should I Avoid in Business Documents?

Though what color ink is more professional, blue or black, depends upon the business circumstances, there are a few colors you can safely avoid. For form filling and signing, steer clear of red, purple, and green, along with any light or metallic shades.  

  • Red is hard to see when scanned or copied. It’s also used to make corrections and to flag suspicious or fraudulent activity, so unless you’re checking someone’s work or catching numbers that don’t add up, stay away from red.
  • Purple and green do not scan or copy well, increasing the chances you’ll need to resubmit documents.

Where Can I Find Blue Ink or Black Ink Pens with My Logo?

Help your customers and keep your name top of mind long after every transaction with custom pens that work for your paperwork and your branding.  

Blue Ink: Working at a law firm? Shopping for students? Check out our wide selection of blue ink promotional pens.  

Black Ink: If black ink’s the color you need at your bank’s customer service counter or your passport services office, add your logo to a selection from our customized black ink pens.  

Our top choices for pens that are professional and promotional in blue and black ink:   

Full Color Executive Alpha Pen & Flashlight Gift Set: The ultimate in professional gift giving, this set includes a soft touch keychain flashlight and an executive Alpha Soft Touch pen (with stylus!) in blue or black ink. 

Satin Finish Paragon Pen with Rose Gold Trim: Satin finish, mineral barrel colors, rose gold trim, and professional black ink? Doesn’t get more executive level than this!  

P.S. Looking to go beyond black vs blue ink? For more on pens including tip types, ink types, best brands, and more, check out these blogs: 

Sources: 

  1. https://www.nationalnotary.org/notary-bulletin/blog/2021/02/hotline-color-ink–notaries-sign
  1. https://www.us-passport-service-guide.com/passport-application.html#:~:text=How%20do%20I%20fill%20out,or%20denial%20of%20your%20passport.
  1. https://www.bluesummitsupplies.com/blogs/tax-resources/can-you-handwrite-a-1099
Karleen Wise Andersen

From marketing tips to product recommendations, I’m here to help small businesses be their best.

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