How to create an electronic signature in Excel

Creating electronic signatures in Microsoft Excel is a straightforward process. Often, companies will use Excel sheets in the same way as other documents like PDFs and Word files.

Adding electronic or digital signatures to these documents, as opposed to pen-and-ink signatures, can save a significant amount of time and resources. This is especially the case when numerous people in an organization need to approve documents.

What’s more, providing clients with the option to approve documents quickly by adding a signature line will likely lead to an increase in your conversion rate and a decrease turnaround time for proposals, contracts, reports, invoices, etc.

In this post, we’ll outline the differences between the two main types of virtual signatures and show you how to add electronic signatures and signature lines to Excel documents.

What is an electronic signature?

So what is an electronic signature?

In a nutshell, an electronic signature is a virtual mark affixed to a document to signify approval. Let’s say that somebody receives a contract as an email attachment. They open up the document, add a photocopied signature image to the bottom of the final page, and send it back. They’ve just electronically approved the document.

It’s possible to add further layers of security to this process with specialized tools. After a document is signed electronically, a certificate generates automatically, and a copy is stored as a PDF in the cloud.

Generally speaking, electronic signatures are just as secure as typical handwritten signatures, if not more so. Governments worldwide have introduced numerous pieces of legislation (eIDAS, ESIGN Act, Electronic Communications Act, etc.). Furthermore, electronic signatures typically accompany an extensive “audit trail,” such as emails, which makes them very easy to verify.

What is a digital signature?

A digital signature is a highly secure type of electronic signature. Digital signatures rely on what’s called a public key infrastructure (PKI) to verify documents. It’s near-impossible to forge a digital signature or amend a document once signed.

Individuals that want to use digital signatures must first purchase a digital certificate (or digital ID) from a “certificate authority.” Whenever they approve a contract, proposal, invoice, etc., they affix this digital ID to the document, creating a unique encrypted file. This file can only be decrypted with a public key explicitly tied to that individual.

To add a digital signature in Excel (which will automatically recognize any digital certificates stored on your computer), you will need to purchase an ID first or create your own.

When should you sign in Excel?

You might need to add a signature (or signature line) to an Excel page for several reasons.

Here are some of the most common:

  • Approving internal accounting reports and data-heavy files.
  • Asking clients to approve invoices, pricing tables, quotes, or receipts.
  • For Excel documents containing calculations which require verification from management or accounting.
  • A client specifically asks for a document as an Excel file.

Even if you create most documents in PDF or Microsoft Word formats, it’s good practice to have clear processes for creating electronic signatures in Excel should the need ever arise.

How to create an electronic signature in Excel

You have the option to add either a visible or invisible signature in Excel. You can also create a signature line on its own, which will allow recipients to give their approval.

Take the following steps:

  1. Open the Excel document.
  2. Select the area where you want your signature to go.
  3. Click Insert tab and then select Text > Signature Line > Microsoft Office Signature Line.
  4. A Signature Setup dialogue box will appear. Enter the information you wish to appear:
      • Suggested signer – The recipient’s name (if you are signing the document, this will be your name).
      • Suggested signer’s title – The job role of the recipient, e.g., “manager” or “CEO.”
      • Suggested signer’s e-mail address – The email address of the recipient.
      • Instructions to the signer – Any instructions you wish to include.
  5. Tick the checkboxes at the bottom of the pop-up (“Allow the signer to…” and “Show sign date…”) if you want to show the signing date and/or allow the signer to add comments and click OK.
  6. Double-click on the signature line (or right-click and select Sign). You may be prompted to save the document.
  7. If you do not have any digital certificates currently available, a pop-up will appear, asking if you want to “Get a Digital ID,” if you wish to do so, select Yes and follow the instructions. Alternatively, you can create your certificate using these instructions.
  8. Enter your name into the field in the pop-up (or hit the select image button), including any additional details if you wish to do so, and click Sign.

How to create an invisible signature in Excel

Alternatively, you can add an invisible signature to Excel. Your signed document will have a Signatures tab at the bottom of the page:

Follow the steps below:

  1. Open the Excel document.
  2. Select the File tab and choose Protect Workbook > Add Digital Signature.
  3. Complete the pop-up fields and click Sign.

How to add an Excel file to a document in PandaDoc

If you prefer to create a separate written document rather than a spreadsheet for recipients to sign, you can do so in a tool like PandaDoc and attach any relevant Excel files.

Follow the steps below to add an Excel file to PandaDoc:

  1. Log into your PandaDoc account.
  2. Open a document in the Documents (left toolbar) tab or upload one by selecting New document (top right corner).
  3. Select More from the right-hand toolbar in the document editor and choose Attached files.
  4. Click Upload Attachment.

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PandaDoc is the web’s leading contract management solution. You can use it to quickly, securely add signatures and signature fields to your documents. You’ll also have access to a suite of time-saving tools like document templates, analytics, automation options, and more.

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