A promissory note is written and signed document where one party, usually a borrower of a loan, promises to pay a specific amount to the other entity, usually a lender on a predetermined date. Currency and bank notes are examples of promissory notes too. The amount to be paid can be the debt amount or the interest can be added to the principle and the total amount can be paid in the promissory note.
They are often confused with IOUs, which are a simple acknowledgement that one party owes the other and a debt exists, but promissory notes specifically mention the promise to pay back the money. They are also different from loan contract, which contain a description of all the terms and conditions related to the loan. A promissory note is an unconditional written commitment by one party to pay a sum of money to the other on demand or on a fixed date.