Electronic Signatures

Online Services: Electronic Signatures

Signing electronic documents on your computer

There are two commonly used phrases that are often confused for each other: Electronic Signatures and Digital Signatures. An Electronic Signature is a version of your signature that you draw on (or scan into) your computer or electronic device, and this image of your signature is then added to an existing digital document. A Digital Signature involves cryptographic security, is more complicated, and doesn’t usually include an actual image of your signature. This article discusses Electronic Signatures only.

My procedures often involve the use of a PDF file, which is currently one of the most common formats for electronic documents, that require one or more signatures. One way to accommodate this is to print the document, sign it, and scan it back into your computer or device.

A more convenient way is to open the PDF file on your computer, tablet, or smartphone and sign the document using software that allows signatures to be added.

One of the most common programs used to open PDF files is Adobe Reader. This is a free program that can be used on any computer, tablet, or smartphone. If you do not currently have Adobe Reader installed you can download it for free from Adobe’s website: https://get.adobe.com/reader/

Once you have Adobe Reader installed, and you have opened the PDF file requiring your signature, you will need to click on the “Fill and Sign” option. This is found in the menu under “Tools” or by clicking on the pen icon along the side of the screen. If you have not used this feature before, when you click on the “Sign” button you will need to add a signature. Select the “Draw” option at the top of the box, and using your mouse, stylus pen, or finger, draw your normal signature as large as you can to fill the space provided. If you make a mistake, or are unhappy with your signature, click on “Clear” to start again. Once you are happy with your signature, click on “Apply” to store it.

Adobe Reader does allow you to “save” your signature for future use, but only do this on your personally owned computer that has a secure, personal login account. Do NOT use the “save” feature on a shared or public computer, or if someone else can use your account. If you use the “save” feature then you will only need to go through this procedure once, but keep in mind that if you permit someone else to use your computer login account, they will be able to access your saved signature.

To sign the PDF document, after you have selected “Sign”, click or tap where you would like the signature to go. You can resize, reposition, or delete the signature as needed.

Once you have your signature in place, save the document in a place that you can find it and email it back. No printing or scanning required. 🙂

If you need additional help in signing a PDF document with Adobe Reader, the official “Fill and Sign” Help page is here: https://helpx.adobe.com/ca/reader/using/fill-and-sign.htm

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