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Economics/Cheque signature.


QUESTION: Dear Prof Raza

Is this a universal law in banking system that the cheque color has to be in blue or black color?


ANSWER: Hi Prashant,

Please clarify whether you want to know if the color of signature should be blue/black or the page of the cheque should be blue/blac.


---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Dear Prof Raza


The signature which we sign on the cheque has to be in Blue or Black color only?

Any specific reasons for selecting blue or black colors if a universal banking law?

What could be the alternative colors adopted instead of blue or black colors in the color spectrum if this is not a universal banking law?


ANSWER: Dear Prashant,

It is good that you have asked this question about what color of pen ink should be used in putting signature on a bank cheque. As you will come to know at the end of this answer, it is equally important for important documents –more so in this modern world than what used to be in the past.

This is a very important and interesting question which most people don’t know and probably don’t much need to know, even though not knowing this critical matter may on rare occasions bring about far-reaching untoward consequences. Here is gist I am trying to explain why blue ink may be of utmost importance.


Is black ink the best? Contrary to what many might think, black ink is not the best. Why? First, the document validity could be challenged. Because black ink is the most widely used printer-ink color, this color is apt to be used most easily to duplicate or copy via home software and printers. Officials at the bank or credit-card company, by looking at blue-ink signature, may not be able to tell whether they are looking at a photocopy of a signature or an originally inked signature. So, when you are applying for a credit card in person, the bank may ask you to sign the application in blue ink. The black-color ink, the wrong-color ink, could trigger a fraud alert or nullify the check. Endorsing a check in wrong-color signature can have unpleasant legal ramifications. Normally though this does not happen. But you never can tell.  

One more point: red ink is even more dangerous. Signing a check or endorsing the back of a check in red ink could trigger trouble by delaying payment of the check. In extreme instances of fraud prevention, it could even void the check’s validity. Red ink is also considered a warning color: years ago, bank proofers used a red pen to circle the signature on a check if they suspected it to be fraudulent. As a result, the color remains stigmatized in the financial industry. Besides, in this digital world, scanners that read documents use a red laser light. When the red laser light scans the document, it turns the entire document a red color. So a signature written in red ink appears to vanish. Because it would appear faint or non-existent on a photocopy, red pens were considered taboo for signing or endorsing checks. In general, most checks are imaged, or scanned, using a super high-speed scanner. Some types of scanners are unable to detect or decipher unusual colors like pink or green, which means that a check might not be properly applied or might have processing issues.

Why blue color? Blue ink is harder to reproduce and easier to spot on paper that’s typically filled with lots of black (fine) print. “Blue ink is preferred because,” says Cina L. Wong, CDE, a certified and court-qualified forensic handwriting expert. “It's easier to assume that the document is 'original' if it is signed in blue ink.” They advise signers of our documents to use blue ink as it offers contrast to our applications, which is especially beneficial should there be any ID issues in the future.

The bottom line is: one should never use red ink in signing cheques. Though black-color signature is not uncommon, it is safer and more appropriate to use blue-color signature on cheques.

I hope this serves your purpose. Best of luck, Prashant.

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QUESTION: Dear Prof Raza


There are many other colors in the color spectrum.

Examples - Green,Orange,Brown,Pink,Purple,Magenta etc.

If we sign in those color ink, will the bank dishonour the cheque and in case if they dishonour the cheque, what reasons the bank will give for dishonouring?

Awaiting your reply,


Hi Prashant,

I am sorry that I was a trifle busy and could not attend to your query earlier.

Actually, the bank normally does not object to black signature, though blue signature would be to your security.

Orange, brown, pink and purple have some problem. The scanning machine may face problem in reading every bit of the signature accurately because of the wavelengths of light that go through the machine. If this occurs, the bank may dishonor the check, and that is a valid reason. Other than that I do not think there could be any reason for the bank to dishonor cheques. However, it is customary for people, in the bank and outside, to assume that red (and so magenta or pink) is a "warning" color. In some schools, even though marking exam scripts in red ink is allowed, some teachers prefer not to use red ink, simply out of courtesy or deference to studentship.

As far as cheques are concerned, if the bank finds these are clearly machine-readable, no bank will generally dishonor such cheques. However, in rare instances the bank may put a proviso. This, however, need not bother a customer, since banks usually provide pens at the counter. In case of sending somebody post-dated cheques it is to the interest of the customer to use the appropriate ink (blue or black, preferably blue) because in some cases a dishonored cheque may involve some fine from the party to whom cheque is written, even though that may not involve extra charges from the bank. Besides, sometimes non-payment of dues in time may be costly, too. Since blue or black are the colors normally not disputed, it would be better to use blue or black colors, preferably blue.

If it is not written in the statute of the particular bank about particular color to be used for signature, the bank legally cannot dishonor any cheque. However, the bank has the right to dishonor cheques where signature is not properly visible which may happen in case of red ink.

I hope this gives a rough answer to your query. Best of luck.


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Eklimur Raza


It appears some students in this website are confused about elasticity of demand and the slope of the demand curve when they are trying to figure out why rectangular hyperbola comes up in case of unitary demand curve. First, they don't know that RH can be depicted in a positive quadrant of price,quantity plane. Secondly, they make the mistake that the slope of RH is constant at -1. Two points could help them: first, e=1 at each and every point of the RH, because the tangent at any point shows lower segment=upper segment (another geometric definition of e); yet slopes at different points,dQ/dP, are different; second, e is not slope but [(Slope)(P/Q)]in absolute terms. Caveat: only if we measure (log P) along the horizontal axis and (log Q) up the vertical axis, can we then say slope equals elasticity --in which case RH on P,Q plane is transformed into a straight-line demand curve [with slope= -tan 45 deg] on (log Q),(logP) plane, and e= -d(log Q)/d(log P). [By the way, logs are not used in college textbooks --although that is helpful in econometric estimation of elasticity viewed as an exponent of P, when demand equation is transformed into log-linear form.] I have not found the geometrical explanation I have given in any textbook followed in undergraduate and college classes in Canada (including the book followed in a university where I taught for a short time and in the book followed in George Brown College, Toronto, where I teach.


About 11 years' teaching economics and business studies, and also English, history and elementary French.Practical experience in a development bank, working with international donor agencies like the World Bank and the ADB. Experience in free-lance journalism, including Canada's "National Post."

I teach micro- and macroeconomics at George Brown College (continuing education), Toronto, ON, Canada.

Many articles and editorials, on different subjects, in English newspapers. Recently an applied Major Research Paper, based on a synthesis of the Solow growth model and the Lewis two-sector model, has be accepted by Ryerson University, Toronto. Professors Thomas Barbiero and Eric Cam, Ryerson University, accepted the paper.

Master degree in Interantional Economics and Finance and diploma with honours in Business Administration from Canada.

Awards and Honors
Received First Prize in an inter-university Literary Contest.

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