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How are contracts usually signed

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 in 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, 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, 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 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.

The most obvious reason is that, as a general rule, eSignatures simply save time. With physical signatures, a contract has to be printed, hand signed, then either scanned and emailed or posted in the mail for the following person to sign. This is inefficient, wasteful and prone to error. An electronic signature can be added at the click of a button, then sent digitally to every relevant person. This can be very worthwhile even for a small business.

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 fully accepted in many countries 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, for example, 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 preference.

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.