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印章 appear all over chinese works, especially in the past. Most noticeably in documents relating to business and arts, companies and individuals would use seals in place of signatures.

In modern China, how commonly used are these in opposition to western-style handwritten signatures? Celebrities obviously have handwritten autographs, and many institutions do still use 印章 to authorize or mark documents associated with them, but how likely is a common person to use one? In legal documents, do people require 印章 (as Japan does), or are written signatures accepted?

Under which scenarios is each used, and how commonly are either seen in modern China (both the mainland and Taiwan, which I take are different in how much they still use seals).

  • I like this question, but how much does it really have to do with language, as opposed to culture? I would love to keep it on the site, but I'm not sure if it fits the "rules" of the site... – user3306356 Jun 3 '15 at 14:31
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    I have a 印章, but used only once, for the contract of buying house. (From mainland) – songyuanyao Jun 3 '15 at 15:37
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    @user3306356 Where do you suggest him to ask that then? If the site rules don't accept Chinese culture's questions, then the rules should be changed. Unless there is some other Stack Exchange community for that (which there isn't). – Enrico Brasil Jun 7 '15 at 19:52
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Organizations often use 印章 while signatures are used personally.
If you are representing an organization, 印章 usually are required, but signature is acceptable for a person representing himself.
Example:
A bank is providing a loan to me, on the contract there will be bank employee's signature, bank's 印章 and my signature, this is acceptable.
Of course, if you have a personal 印章, you can use it with your signature, that's fine.
PS: This is in mainland China, not sure the what the situation is in Taiwan

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i'm native speak and talk from personal experience. 印章 is an old word, only appropriate for ancient seals. In modern language, it's called 印。when you print a seal on paper( my bad English ), it's called 盖章。people barely use seals. for example if you are going to buy a mobile phone SIM card (3G or 4G), just sign a couple papers with your name, and you're done. By the way it's called 签字 or 签名。in other words, if you just getting services for yourself just sign. If you're representing some company, you'll need to 盖章。

  • I think you misunderstood the OP. He is asking about 印章 which is a noun. You're talking about 盖章 which is an action. As far as I know, 印章 is still widely used both in China mainland and Taiwan. You may not have to use it when you buy a cell phone. But, you need to use it for formal occasions ( you actually gave a good example, when representing a company.) – scaaahu Jun 5 '15 at 8:24
  • well, i'm just trying to help with his vocabulary, so I said 盖章。by 印章 is old, I'm from mainland by the way, I just mean people don't use it in daily life, or the spoken language. – Brutal Honest Philosophy Jun 5 '15 at 8:28

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