Formatting Standards

In order to comply with national standards, Iowa has adopted Document Formatting Standards. Senate File 371, which takes effect July 1, 2005, states that all documents presented for recording (except those listed below) must meet the following requirements:

All documents shall consist of 1 or more individual pages not permanently bound or in a continuous form. A page means a writing, printing, or drawing, other than a plat or survey or a drawing related to a plat or survey, occurring on 1 side only, and not larger than 8 and 1/2 inches in width and 14 inches in length. The document shall not have any attachment stapled or otherwise affixed to any page except as necessary to comply with statutory requirements. However, individual pages of a document may be stapled for presentation for recording. Labels that are firmly attached are acceptable.

The first page of each document shall have a top margin of at least 3 inches of vertical space from left to right which shall be reserved for the recorders use. All other margins on the document shall be a minimum of 3/4 inch. Nonessential information such as page numbers or customer notations may be placed in a margin except the top margin.

All preprinted text shall be at least 8 point in size and no more than 20 characters and spaces per inch. All other text typed or computer generated, including but not limited to all names of parties to an agreement, shall be at least 10 point in size and no more than 16 characters and spaces per inch.

Each document shall be of sufficient legibility to produce a clear reproduction.

Each document shall be on white paper of not less than twenty-pound weight without watermarks or other visible inclusions.

All signatures on a document shall be in black or dark blue ink and of sufficient color and clarity to ensure that the signatures are readable when the document is reproduced. All names shall be typed, printed, or stamped beneath the original signature.

Embossed or inked stamps shall not cover or otherwise materially interfere with any part of the document.

Each document that is presented for recording shall have the following information on the first page below the 3 inch margin
  • a) the name, address, and telephone number of the individual who prepared the document
  • b) the name of the taxpayer and a complete mailing address for any document or instrument of conveyance
  • c) a return address
  • d) the title of the document
  • e) all grantors names
  • f) all grantees names
  • g) any address required by statute
  • h) the legal description of the property and parcel identification number, if required. If insufficient space exists on the first page for all of the information previously described, the page reference of the document where the information is located shall be noted on the first page
The following documents are exempt from document formatting requirements:
  • A document that was signed before July 1, 2005
  • A military separation document
  • A document that executed outside of the United States
  • A certified copy of a document issued by a governmental agency, including a vital record
  • A document where one of the original parties is deceased or otherwise incapacitated
  • A document formatted to meet court requirements
  • A federal tax lien
  • A filing under the uniform commercial code, chapter 554
  • A plat or survey or a drawing related to a plat or survey
  • On or after July 1, 2005, a document that does not conform to the document formatting standards shall not be recorded except upon payment of an additional recording fee of 10 dollars per document or instrument