Document Format Requirements

See also the maps, plans and surveys requirements checklists and documents requiring a treasurer's stamp for additional requirements.

All documents submitted for recording in Washington State must conform to standards set by Revised Code of Washington (RCW) 65.04. Documents which do not meet the requirements will be returned for reformatting. If the only requirement not met is a minimum margin specifications, the document can be recorded by including a signed cover sheet with an emergency nonstandard surcharge of $50 included.

RCW 65.04.045: Recorded Instruments - Requirements
When any instrument is presented to a county auditor or recording officer for recording, the first page of the instrument shall contain:
  • A top margin of at least 3 inches and a 1-inch margin on the bottom and sides, except that an instrument may be recorded if a minor portion of a notary seal, incidental writing, or minor portion of a signature extends beyond the margins.
  • The top left-hand side of the page shall contain the name and address to which the instrument will be returned.
  • The title or titles, or type or types, of the instrument to be recorded indicating the kind or kinds of documents or transactions contained therein immediately below the 3-inch margin at the top of the page.  
  • The auditor or recording officer shall be required to index only the title or titles captioned on the document.
  • Reference numbers of documents assigned or released with reference to the document page number where additional references can be found, if applicable.  
  • The names of the grantor(s) and grantee(s), as defined under RCW 65.04.015, with reference to the document page number where additional names are located, if applicable.
  • An abbreviated legal description of the property, and for purposes of this subsection, "abbreviated legal description of the property" means lot, block, plat, or section, township, range, and quarter / quarter section, and reference to the document page number where the full legal description is included, if applicable.
  • The assessor's property tax parcel or account number set forth separately from the legal description or other text.  
  • All pages of the document shall be on sheets of paper of a weight and color capable of producing a legible image that are not larger than 14 inches long and 8 and one-half inches wide with text printed or written in eight point type or larger. All text within the document must be of sufficient color and clarity to ensure that when the text is imaged all text is readable. Further, all pages presented for recording must have at minimum a 1-inch margin on the top, bottom, and sides for all pages except page one, except that an instrument may be recorded if a minor portion of a notary seal, incidental writing, or minor portion of a signature extends beyond the margins, be prepared in ink color capable of being imaged, and have all seals legible and capable of being imaged. No attachments, except firmly attached bar code or address labels, may be affixed to the pages.
    • A cover sheet is required for documents in which the first page does not contain the necessary index fields or the 3-inch top margin.
    • All pages must conform to formatting requirements for margins, page size, font size, color, legibility, seals, and attachments.
    • A cover sheet will not relieve you of the responsibility of meeting the formatting requirements for all subsequent pages.
Documents which were signed prior to January 1, 1997 may be recorded without reformatting, but a cover sheet will be required.