How to create eSignatures and why it's smart for business
Table of Contents:
- How do eSignatures work?
- How to create electronic signatures
- Factors to consider when choosing an eSignature provider
- How to create an electronic signature in Contractbook
- Frequently asked questions about eSignatures
Imagine if you needed a notary to witness your signature every time you signed a contract or document. This would significantly restrict the number of contracts you could sign in a day while also disrupting any workflow that relied on those people being in one place at a time. Meanwhile, you could e-sign documents anytime, from anywhere, with ease without any notary.
Electronic signature, also known as eSignature, is revolutionizing the way businesses sign and execute contracts and any legal documents. The traditional method of using wet signature is quickly becoming obsolete—the proof is in the numbers. Within the past five years, electronic signature transactions increased from 89 million to 754 million, and the number hasn't stopped growing.
Electronic signatures, such as digital signatures, offer more robust security to the digital documents transferred between signees.
This article explains different ways of creating electronic signatures, how electronic signatures work, and how to select an excellent e sign provider. We will also explain how you can add electronic signatures to your digital contract using our contract automation software.
How do eSignatures work?
Electronic signatures work by embedding the signer's name, email address, and timestamp into the document. This information is then used to verify the signature at a later date. It eliminates the need for printing, scanning, and faxing. With electronic signature, users can sign everything from one-page documents to multi-page legal agreements.
And if other signatories to the contract are not present to contribute to the document, you won't have to involve costly couriers to get the document across. Signing electronically in contract automating platforms ensures that all signatories can fill their part at their convenience.
How to create electronic signatures
How to create electronic signatures in a PDF
Generally, it’s a little challenging to edit a PDF document, let alone include an electronic signature in it. Despite that, numerous software platforms have managed to curtail this challenge. It’s no wonder that there are several ways to add electronic signatures on this type of document, regardless of the device you have.
Adding eSignature to a PDF using Android
Android devices do not have built-in software that can add a signature. So you will need to install third-party applications, such as Adobe Acrobat Reader, SignNow, SignEasy, and so many others.
With Adobe Acrobat Reader:
After downloading Adobe Acrobat Reader, access your PDF document and click the fountain pen icon. A list of options will pop up. Choose “Fill and sign.” This will provide you with signature features that will enable you to sign your document. You can also share the signed copy by clicking the “Share” icon.
Adding eSignature to a PDF using macOS
Unlike Android devices, it's much easier to sign your documents with a Mac. macOS has a built-in feature for document signatures and all you need to do is to:
Step 1: Open your PDF document.
Step 2: Tap the “Show Markup Toolbar” button and click the “Sign” icon.
Step 3: It will prompt you to either draw your signature on the trackpad or scan a handwritten signature with your webcam.
Adding eSignature to a PDF using an iPhone or iPad
To sign your PDF on your iPhone or iPad:
Step 1: Open the PDF document
Step 2: Tap on the “Annotate” tool from the top toolbar
Step 3: Choose “Signature.” Draw your signature with your finger or an Apple pencil. If you want to adjust the size of the signature, simply pinch two fingers together and then spread them apart.
Step 4: Tap “Done.”
You can also add a full name under the signature by tapping on “Full name” and typing it out. Tap “Done” when finished. Tap anywhere in the document where you want to place your signature and then tap on it again. If you want to share the document after signing, tap on the Sharing icon (it looks like a square with an arrow coming out of it) in the top right corner of the screen.
Advantages of e-signing documents in PDF formats:
- PDF documents are recognized universally. You can open it on any platform or device, whether it’s an android or an iOS device.
- PDF files are a reliable and portable format for sharing documents. The receivers don’t need to have the same software or platform as you to open it. They don’t also need to have the same fonts installed.
Downsides of e-signing documents in PDF formats
- They are difficult to modify. If your contract changes or you need to update information after signing, you may have a tough time making those edits without starting over from scratch.
- They aren't very secure. They don't have audit trails or biometric authentication features, so they're less than ideal for sensitive information.
- They aren't great for collaboration. Getting signatures is only part of the process; in many cases, you'll want multiple people to collaborate on a document before it gets sent out for signing. PDFs by themselves don't offer any collaboration tools, so you'll have to rely on other apps or file-sharing services.
How to create eSignature in Google Docs
Google Docs has a customized feature that allows you to add a signature to your document. To sign a document electronically in Google Docs, follow these steps below:
Step 1: Open the document in Google Docs.
Step 2: Position the cursor to where you want to insert the signature.
Step 3: Choose “Insert” from the Ribbon menu at the top pane.
Step 4: Choose “Drawing,” then “New.”
Step 5: In the Drawing menu, choose > Line > Scribble. Draw or scribble your signature using the mouse.
Step 6: Save and Close if you are happy with the results.
Advantages of e-signing documents in Google Docs
- Google docs have a good number of shareable options. For instance, you can send a link to the document or share it as a Word document.
- It has easy-to-use features that enable the contracting parties to edit and collaborate on the same document at the same time.
Downsides of e-signing documents in Google Docs
- It doesn’t offer a certified electronic signature for contracts. You’ll need add-ons from specialized e-signing tools which elongate the contract signing process.
How to create an eSignature in Microsoft Word
Microsoft Word is the most common type of platform for creating documents. So it's only logical that it offers electronic signature services. You can also insert a digital signature in Word by following our 5-step guide. The two ways you can create electronic signatures in Microsoft Word are:
Step 1: Add a signature line. You can create a pre-formatted signature line from the “Insert” option. It will serve as a placeholder until you can add your signature later.
Step 2: Upload a scanned signature. All you need to do is sign on a plain white sheet of paper using a black pen. Then, capture a picture of your signature with your phone camera. It’d be best to save it in your gallery and then upload it to Microsoft Word.
Advantages of e-signing documents in Microsoft Word
- Almost everyone can easily access an electronic document such as a word document, making it an appealing option for dealing with contracts.
Downsides of e-signing documents in Microsoft Word
- Microsoft Word doesn’t track document creation and editing histories. This means that you won't have access to any document audit trail once your document has been sent for signature. You or your signer may end up having duplicate versions of the same document, which is a nightmare from a compliance perspective.
- Documents are vulnerable to unauthorized access when shared through email and cloud storage services, such as Dropbox and OneDrive. Multiple copies of documents can be created and accessed by people who are not authorized to view them, and there is no way of knowing who those people are or what they did with the documents.
- You cannot tell your contracting partner has seen your document when you use Microsoft Word. The lack of tracking capabilities makes it impossible to follow up on documents that have been sent out.
Factors to consider when choosing an eSignature provider
There are a tremendous number of electronic signature providers online, many of which are free. However, when choosing an eSignature provider, it's important to consider all of the different factors that will be important to your business. Some platforms may meet your needs now but not be able to grow with you in the future.
How flexible is the signature tool your eyes are on? You'll want a provider that can adapt to your business processes and workflows. So you must opt for a platform that can integrate with your CRM system and other collaboration tools.
2. Custom branding
There are many eSignature providers, but only a select few offer custom logos, colors, and branding to make your signature look like an extension of your company. It may even allow you to create your templates so that all of your documents have the same look and feel. You may not know it yet but consistent branding boosts trust among customers.
3. Ease of use
Ideally, you'll want a platform that's simple and easy to navigate, with clear instructions for completing each step. Whether you're new to electronic signatures or an experienced user, the best providers make it easy to navigate. Contractbook is one such provider: we offer a simple, user-friendly platform with all the features you need to get the job done. We also offer helpful tutorials and support if you need help getting started.
4. Security & Compliance
You must ensure that the eSignature provider you choose complies with all relevant laws and regulations. The provider should be able to provide you with a detailed overview of their compliance measures. They should also have a robust security infrastructure to protect your data. Don't forget to ask the provider about their policies on password protection, data encryption, and firewalls.
Your eSignature tool’s mobile-friendliness will go a long way in showing your customers how much you care about eliminating traditional contract bottlenecks. So, it would be best if you looked for an electronic signature solution that optimizes the signing process on all mobile devices and platforms. This way, your customers or partners can have a tailored experience when e-signing documents.
Adobe reader, DocuSign, SignEasy, and so many other e-signing specialized tools are great but they have limited signing functionality. This means that you can only sign with these tools and will need a third-party platform to complete your contract processes.
Alternatively, Contractbook, a cloud-based contract management software, offers powerful forms, workflow automation tools, and sophisticated electronic signatures at no additional price. It enables you to automate the creation of contracts at scale, drive approval workflows, sign, and examine post-signature tracking. This is an ideal choice, especially if you handle large volumes of contracts. All you need to do is sign up on Contractbook to streamline your contract workflow processes.
How to create an electronic signature in Contractbook
Contractbook offers a full suite of electronic signature solutions including digital signatures to meet any business need. To create your electronic signature:
Step 1: Determine the number and identity of signatories to the contract. You can do this by selecting “Who will sign the contract.” This section had three options: “Me and others,” “Only others,” and “Only me.” After choosing amongst these three options, insert your details and other signatories' details into the designated fields. If these details are already in your “Profile settings,” they will be imported automatically.
Step 2: Select “Document” at the top menu if you want to sign pre-existing documents. Then click on create new and select “Sign a PDF with Contractbook” at the bottom of the box. The platform will automatically create a new draft where you can now edit the document as you wish.
Step 3: If the contract requires more than one signee from a company, you can easily add new fields for more signatures. To do this, scroll down to the bottom of the draft under the signatures section and tap the “Add signee.”
Step 4: If it's a document you share with other signees, you'll have to send it to them to capture their input. Contractbook's default settings order the signing activity so that the sender signs first before it disperses to the other parties. But you can change this setting in the signature order too. And before sending out the contract to capture the external party's signature, you can attach a message to it in a comment box on the page.
When it comes to embedding electronic signatures, you needn't be intimidated. Request a free trial with us today and we will help you get started on your electronic signature journey.
Frequently asked questions about eSignatures
What is an eSignature?
Esignature is an electronic version of a handwritten signature. It is a digital impression, markup, or element used to signify that the person electronically signing a contract agrees to the terms of that contract.
Who benefits from electronic signatures?
Here are three primary groups of people who gain from this technology.
1. Authorized signatories
Authorized signatories are the people within a company with the full right to sign contracts on behalf of the company. This group can include the company's CEO, president, or administrative director. Electronic signature enables these individuals to sign contracts faster and with minimal error.
2. The counterparty
The counterparty is the business or individual trying to establish a new business relationship. They could be business owners or contracted workers. Whichever one they are, they benefit from the increased security and compliance that electronic signatures provide.
3. Sales team
The sales team can use electronic signatures to speed up the sales process. Since the digital system automatically tracks and records all signatures automatically, they can reduce the time it takes to sign and approve contracts. Such a streamlined process affords them more focus on boosting sales and earning their commissions instead of dealing with messy paperwork or missed signatures.
Are electronic signatures vulnerable to forgery?
Yes, basic electronic signatures are vulnerable to forgery, especially if the signatories do not encrypt the document. And that's why digital signatures are highly recommended for sensitive information. Learn more about the benefits of digital signatures.