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Frequently Asked Questions About PDF Signing

If you need to sign a PDF, there are a few ways to do it. Some methods are more acceptable as legal signatures than others. For example, you could do it the old-fashion way by printing it, signing it and sending it back to whomever requested it. If the requestor accepts a copy of the signature, you could also scan the signed PDF and then email it back to them. 

But what if the requestor wants you to sign a PDF file online? There are two methods we are going to talk about here. The first one is how you can add a signature to a PDF; however, that may not be a legally binding signature. The second uses a platform that is accepted by many as legally binding.

What is an electronic signature?

The “internet” defines an electronic signature as a document that you sign online. It could include a photograph of your signature, your typed initials or a drawn signature using a markup tool, like a PDF editor. 

E-signatures are not typically accepted as legal, because, obviously, they can be manipulated or falsified. So why would you want to use an e-signature? Here are some use cases:

  • You send a holiday letter to your friends and family and want to include a signature.
  • You write a letter of recommendation for a former employee or coworker and want to include an e-signature.
  • You want to include a cover letter for a job application and you want to personalize it with your signature.
  • You create an ebook or brochure and want to initial it to let recipients know it’s from you.

An e-signature is different from a digital signature, which will explain after we explain how to add an electronic signature to a document. 

How can one create an electronic signature?

Using PDF LIVE as an example, one can sign documents electronically in different ways: Add a photo of your signature or use their online signature tool to draw your signature.

Go to pdf.live and select PDF Editor. Then select Sign PDF. Upload the PDF that you want to sign. Follow the options to “Create Signature” by using your mouse or trackpad to create your signature. You can change the color of your “ink” and also the size of the pen. Don’t like what you see? Click the paintbrush tool to start over! 

If you’ve already got a photo of your signature, when you see the “Create Signature” window pop up, select Image and then upload it. You’ll be able to click and drag to drop the signature where you want. 

Can all documents be signed digitally, or are there specific ones?

If someone has locked or protected a PDF (if it’s copyrighted, for example), you won’t be able to make modifications.

What is a Digital Signature?

A digital signature is a legally binding signature done through a secure, password-protected site like Docusign, ReadySign, and mSign. Docusign is probably the best-known and most used. 

Why would you want a digital signature and not an e-signature? Here are some use cases:

  • Bank loan applications and/or closings
  • Job applications and/or offers and acceptances
  • Healthcare providers using patient intake forms
  • Sales contracts

If a person signs a document digitally, do all the parties involved also need to sign electronically?

The requirements for digital versus electronic signature will be set by whoever initiates the document. Generally speaking, yes, if one person has to use a secured digital signature platform, then all parties will need to as well. Usually, the entity that initiates the contract or document will “own” the account and invite signers as contributors to the document. 

Since the coronavirus pandemic hit the world, has it impacted the adoption of electronic signing?

The corona virus brought in a shift in how things operate. Several people were required to work remotely from home online. The change enforced digital signing, making it a status quo in daily operations. This is no longer a temporary change but a change that is here to stay.

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