How are contracts usually signed

Contracts are usually signed with either handwritten or electronic signatures. Increasingly, e-signatures have become the norm. 

With physical signatures, a contract has to be printed, hand signed, and either scanned and emailed (or posted in the mail) for other signers to approve. 

While handwritten signatures are still commonplace, a growing number of organizations have come to view hand-signing as an inefficient practice.

What’s more, physical signatures are open to error and forgery.

An electronic signature can be added at the click of a button and then sent digitally to all relevant parties. This can be very worthwhile and cost-effective even for a small business.

What makes a contract legally binding?

Contracts are agreements made between two or more parties used to lay out specific terms and bind each party to those terms.

To create a valid contract, it’s generally best for a document to be produced in writing, and this is necessary for contract law for some agreements, such as those involving the sale of real estate. 

It should then be signed by each relevant party as a symbol of their acceptance of the terms of the contract.

This record of acceptance is extremely important when it comes to securing any payment specified by the contract, or resolving any disputes that may arise during the agreement.

If you’re unsure how contracts are usually signed, what type of signature is required to ensure a legal contract, or what the best way to get your John Doe down in the signature block is, then this article will briefly explain the different methods for you.

What are the different ways of signing a contract?

There are two possible answers to this question.

Up until fairly recently, the only way to sign a binding contract was to physically write your signature onto the signature page of a physical copy (also called the “dotted line”), and this method is still extremely common. 

Electronic signatures are an alternative to this and are growing rapidly in popularity. An electronic signature, or eSignature, is simply a digital form of an old-fashioned written contract signature.

Why sign using electronic signatures?

Physical signatures might be how contracts are usually signed, but that doesn’t make them the best method. More and more organizations are adopting eSignatures as their primary method of signing for a number of reasons.

E-signatures save time, increase the speed and strength of authentication, resulting in a definite audit trail, make it easier for all involved parties to sign documents, and enable the saving of documents and signatures in electronic form. 

Another good reason to use eSignatures is that they can fulfill all the same functions as a normal signature, in that they can still help to make a contract valid.

This means they are accepted in many countries as legal documents and will hold up in court as proof of an agreement. 

How to use electronic signatures

There are now many ways to add an electronic signature to a legal agreement.

Microsoft Word has an eSignature function built-in, although this can be somewhat complicated to use. 

Other more dedicated software also exists, such as HelloSign, PandaDoc, and eSignLive. These platforms make it extremely simple to esign.

Some, such as PandaDoc, also have a range of other helpful features like contract templates, approval workflows, and document tracking.

So what’s the best way to sign contracts?

With so many different options, you should do whatever is most convenient for you or the person signing and the organizations involved.

If you choose to use eSignatures, then your software choice should be informed by your preferences.

If you’re a business owner or part of a sales team that spends a lot of time writing up documents, and sending and signing contracts, then an all-in-one software like PandaDoc may be your best bet.

Also, remember to seek out the legal services of a reputable law firm if you are in any doubt about the validity of a contract. 

PandaDoc: all-in-one contract signing

PandaDoc streamlines the signing process by providing you with everything you need to create legally binding digital signatures and written agreements.

When a signatory provides their approval, a signed copy of the contract, along with a time-stamped certificate, will automatically be generated and stored online. 

Moreover, PandaDoc offers an extensive library of written contract templates, with professionally prepared contract terms, to take the hassle out of creating new documents.

If you’re a business owner or part of a sales team that spends a lot of time writing up, sending, and signing contracts, then an all-in-one software like PandaDoc may be your best bet.