In this article we will learn how to sign a document electronically. Sometimes you need to sign your electronic documents (office documents or emails) digitally to assure its receiver that the file is authentic and was in fact sent by you. By doing so, you will give the receiver assurance that you are truly the person that created the document and that the content has not undergone modifications without your consent. This can be done in several ways and we will explore some of these in this article. Also see how digital signatures work.
Using Digital Signatures With Word Documents
Microsoft Word provides the capability to sign documents by adding lines (on which you can sign digitally) or by inserting invisible digital signatures.
Signature Lines – How to Sign a Document Electronically
Microsoft Word’s signature lines resemble printed signature lines of conventional typed documents. However Office’s signature lines contain more features. In a typical Office digital signature scenario, the author provides information that is related to the intended signer. The signer can insert a digital signature in the line by using a previously created digital signature component or use touchscreen enabled monitor’s inking capability to “write” on the line a signature. On signing, the document’s digital signature is inserted and the document changes from being editable to read-only.
Add Signature Line(s) to a Document
In order to insert one or several signature lines into an Office document, follow the guidelines listed below:
- Move the pointer to the location intended for a signature line on the document.
- Choose Microsoft Office Signature Line from the Insert Tab > Text Section> then Signature Line.
- Enter information concerning the signer in the Signature Setup dialog box. The signer’s information will be displayed below the signature line on selection. The signer’s information fields will include:
1. Suggested signer: Enter the signer’s name in this field.
2. Suggested signer’s title: Enter the signer’s work title/position, for example Assistant Manager.
3. Suggested signer’s e-mail address: Enter the signer’s email address in this field.
- In the Instructions to signer field, you may provide text that instructs the signer on any actions that they should take before, during or after signing the document. These instructions will appear on the Signature dialog box, when signer attempts to sign on that line.
- Choose Allow the signer to add comments option to give the signer the capability to attach any text that will offer more information concerning the digital signature.
- Choose Show sign date in signature line option to enable a date to be added to the digital signature when the signer attaches a signature.
- Confirm the settings by choosing OK.
Additional signature lines may be added to the document by repeating these steps in another part of the document.
Signing a Signature Line
In Microsoft Word, the act of signing a signature line adds both the created signature and marks the document as digitally signed. To sign a document that has signature lines, follow the steps below:
1. Locate a document’s signature line and double-click it to activate the signing dialog box.
2. Add your digital signature using any of the methods listed below:
- Enter you name in the field marked by X to generate a signature of your typed name.
- Choose Select Image from the Select Signature Image dialog box to enter an image representation of your handwritten signature. Browse the image from the computer then confirm the selection by choosing Select.
- If you have a touchscreen capable monitor, sign your handwritten signature in the field marked by X.
- Confirm the digital signing by choosing the Sign option.
Adding Invisible Digital Signatures
In some instances, you may want to retain the assurances that are provided by digitally signed document but may not want the document to contain signature line(s). In this case, an invisible digital signature will suffice. A digitally signed document that does not contain signature lines can be identified by a Signatures button that activates in the Office status bar when a digitally signed document is opened. An activated Signatures button will indicate that the document’s integrity has not been compromised since the document’s signee appended a digital signature.
To add an invisible digital signature, follow the guidelines listed below:
1. Choose Add a Digital Signature from the Microsoft Office Button > Prepare option.
2. As an option you can state your reasons for signing the document in the Sign dialog box, in the Purpose for signing this document field.
3. Confirm the insertion of the digital signature by choosing Sign.
Removing Digital Signature(s) From Word Documents
If you want to remove digital signature from an Office document and make it modifiable due to the removal of the read-only status that is caused by the signature(s), follow the guidelines listed below.
- Locate and open a document that contains digital signatures that need removal.
- Choose View Signatures from the Microsoft Office Button > Prepare option.
- Choose Remove Signature from the Signatures task pane after selecting the digital signature(s) to remove.
- Office will ask you to confirm the deletion. If sure, choose the Yes option to confirm permanent removal of the signature(s).
Adding Digital Signatures in PDF Files
You can also create a digital signature for your PDF document by using Adobe Acrobat’s certificate signature. It will allow you to sign PDF files with a digital ID. With a digital certificate signature, you can verify the authenticity and integrity of the file. You can also create a signature box anywhere on the document showing your digital signature. If the document needs to be signed by more than one person, Adobe Acrobat will allow you to do that as well.