What Color Ink can you use for Checks?

You’ve been searching for over 15 minutes and can only seem to find the bright and noisy-colored pens your children use in school. You need to sign a check to pay the delivery guy who’s been waiting for a while and you’re almost certain those colors aren’t right, but you can’t seem to figure out why.

Should you risk it and fill the check with the metallic pink pen you found in your daughter’s backpack and hope it sails through?

Have you ever been in this position and wondered what ink colors are acceptable to use to sign checks?

This article will give you some insight into the valid colors you can use to write your checks.

What Are the Acceptable Ink Colors to Use for Checks?

The standard color to use to write a check is black. It’s also the preferred color by most banks. Blue is a very good alternative to black and is also highly recommended. If you use either black or blue to fill out your checks, you are less likely to encounter any issues when they are presented.

To write a check, you have to fill out different information such as the date, the payee, the amount in numeric form, the amount in words, the memo, and then you append your signature. This information is very important and filling it out in black or blue ink, being bold colors, tends to make it more legible when processing the check.

Why Are These Colors Acceptable?

Though there’s no rule against filling out checks in varying colors, black and blue have been the standard colors for banks and financial institutions for several years. While some banks do not reject the use of other colors, it may make the process longer because the check, in most cases, will need to be approved manually.

Black is the best color because it contrasts better than other colors on white paper. For people who are colorblind, black is an easier color to decipher. It also displays well when scanned. Scanners don’t pick up lighter colors well (such as orange or yellow), making checks written in those colors harder to see when scanned.

Blue is generally accepted because it also contrasts well on white paper. Where original checks and documents signed in black ink may easily be confused with their photocopies, blue ink will not bring about such mix-ups. Some institutions insist on blue ink for this reason.

Can You Write Checks in Red Ink?

It’s not recommended to fill your checks in red ink as many banks will reject it. Red is a color often associated with errors or mistakes on documents (like when you would get an answer wrong in school), and the same applies in the bank.

Using red ink to sign a check has the highest possibility of delaying payment because it’s since been stigmatized in the banking sector and could draw undue attention to the payment, or even render it invalid altogether.

In addition to this, red doesn’t contrast well on paper and is not likely to show clearly when scanned. In some cases, it may even make the check show up blank and end up being sent to the fraud unit for investigation.

Can you Write a Check in Two Different Colors?

Yes, you can write a check in two different colors as this does not invalidate the check in any way. So far as the signature is valid, then the use of different colors is allowed. However, it’s recommended that you stick with the standard black and blue if you decide to do this.

Also, you may want to note that using two different colors on one check may result in additional scrutiny, depending on where you present it. If this happens, it may cause you a bit of delay.

Can You Write a Check with a Pencil?

It’s not advisable to write a check with a pencil because it could easily be erased, thus leaving you vulnerable to thieves who could erase the amount you actually wrote and cash a higher amount from your account. No one wants to be taken advantage of, especially when it comes to their hard-earned money.

Ultimately, financial institutions have the final say on whether they will accept checks written with a pencil, and most have a policy against this because using pencils makes it easier to commit fraud. Pens can’t easily be erased (if at all), so while there may be no actual law against signing in a pencil, it may be difficult to find an institution that will accept a check written with it.

In addition to this, a check written in pencil that has previously been erased is likely to be subjected to further scrutiny to determine whether it’s legitimate, leading to longer validation processes and delays.

What Colors Can You Use to Sign Bank Documents?

It is preferable to sign bank or legal documents in black or blue ink, just like checks. Generally, blue is more accepted for financial documents such as credit card applications, because it’s easier to determine the original from the photocopy which would not be the case if you use a black pen.

For legal or official documents however, black is most preferred and is even made mandatory in some cases. This is generally because it displays more clearly when scanned or copied, as opposed to other colors, including blue.

This does not mean that they won’t accept documents written in other colors. It’s just better to stick to the generally accepted colors.


If you need to write a check urgently and can only seem to find a light purple or metallic green one, you might want to take think again before making that decision. The few extra minutes it takes you to look for a black or blue one may be well worth it, because you might not want the additional stress that may come with giving out a check in other colors.

So if you write checks a lot, make sure you always keep a black or blue pen on you. And keep all of this advice in mind when you’re signing documents.

Trust me, you won’t regret it.