How to convert signatures to digital signatures

In the modern business world, digital signatures are a powerful tool.

They serve as an alternative to handwritten signing when remote approvals are needed. 

Legally binding and with solid guarantees, a virtual or digital signature can be used for tasks such as notarizing documents, signing contracts, and authentication.

With today’s flexible approach to working, digitized signatures are fast becoming a necessity.

Moreover, given the ease and speed of converting handwritten signatures into an electronic version, there’s no reason not to create one. 

E-signature software allows you to draw or manually upload scanned signatures in minutes.

Read on to learn how to digitize your signature effectively.

Key takeaways:

  • Wet signatures are physical documents signed with ink. You can convert these into electronic signatures by scanning or photographing them.
  • Electronic signatures are often more flexible, convenient, and secure than standard analog forms. 
  • The most secure and professional way to create an electronic signature is with a reliable electronic signing tool.

What is the difference between a wet signature and an electronic signature?

A wet signature describes the process of signing a physical document with ink — in other words; you’re physically present to put your signature on a document using a pen, seal, or some other identifying mark. 

Although electronic signatures are fast becoming the norm, a few private businesses and government organizations still require parties to produce in-person physical marks on signed documents.

An electronic signature, by contrast, is a mark generated using a digital certificate, which indicates the acceptance or approval of an agreement/record. 

According to the Federal ESIGN Act of 2000, an electronic signature is ‘an electronic sound, symbol, or process, attached to or logically associated with a contract or other record and executed or adopted by a person with the intent to sign the record’.

Electronic or e-signatures can take many forms.

Some of the most commonly used today include digitized handwritten signatures, personal identification numbers (PINs), scanned wet signatures, and typed names. 

Is a scanned signature an electronic signature?

An electronic signature is typically digitally drawn using e-signature software.

However, a scanned image of a handwritten wet signature also qualifies under the Federal ESIGN Act of 2000 and has the same legal validity as any other electronic form.

A scanned signature involves taking a photo or uploading your handwritten image to a computer, whereas you create an electronic signature from scratch. 

How to create a signature digitally

Trying to work out how to create digital signatures? The best way is via an electronic signing tool.

Unlike scanning or photographing a wet signature, electronic signing tools create a digital signature from scratch.

This exists in a digital format at the outset, with no need to digitize or convert it later.

Online signing tools work by allowing users to draw or type their signature and download the final image in a ready-to-use PNG or JPG format.

The best digital signatures provide more than a virtual depiction of your handwriting — essentially, they’re digital fingerprints that confirm authenticity.

Resources like PandaDoc’s e-Sign are particularly secure, with ESIGN and UETA compliance.

There are also options that enable you to generate an electronic certificate with every document so information is securely protected. 

Signing tools like this are customizable, with a drag-and-drop editing tool alongside document templates, an integrated CRM, and payment functionality. 

What are the benefits of a digital signature?

Essentially, digital signatures are more convenient and secure than their traditional predecessors.  

It’s not always possible to gather together all the required signatories to provide wet signatures.

Allowing clients to use digital signatures can streamline workflows and boost contract close rates

Additionally, they’re easy to use and inexpensive.

They eliminate the need to store paper documents and cut down on all the admin required to set up in-person signings. 

If you execute a digital signature correctly, it will be legally binding and add an extra layer of protection unavailable with paper signatures.

For example, some e-Signature software (PandaDoc included) can require recipients to verify documents via passcode and SMS text. 

How to convert signatures to digital signatures

You can follow a few simple processes to convert your signature into a contract-ready digital version.

You can do this either by scanning your wet signature or photographing it.

Draw and scan

Handwriting and scanning your original signature is the standard way to digitize a wet signature. 

The steps to do this are pretty simple:

  1. First, write your signature clearly on a paper document. Black ink on white paper is preferable as it’ll have maximum contrast and show up most clearly.
  2. Next, scan your document using the highest possible resolution. When your image is uploaded, crop it to remove excess white space and adjust the brightness if necessary.
  3. Finally, save your image as a JPG or PNG file. Remember that a PNG format will create a transparent background ideal for attaching to electronic documents.

Take a photo

If you don’t have a scanner to hand, another option to create a digital signature is to photograph the written text. 

  1. With an iOS or Android mobile device, snap a picture of your signature (again, you should write this in black ink on a white sheet of paper). 
  2. Next, crop the photo to remove excess space and save it as a JPG or PNG. Remember to take your photo in a well-lit room and take a few snaps before deciding on the highest quality image with minimal blur.

Digitize your signature and signify your agreement to digital documents

Now you know how to create an electronic signature, you can start expediting the contract signing process.

Electronic signatures allow you to sign documents remotely, making it safer and more efficient. 

If you’re new to e-signing and want a trusted and reliable tool to get you started, PandaDoc provides an all-in-one simple and secure solution.

You can sign up for a free 14-day trial or schedule a demo to try out e-signatures for yourself.