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How to create a digital signature

If you digitally sign documents and PDFs on a regular basis, then you’re probably familiar with how electronic signature software works. But you may be less familiar with the concept of a digital signature.

Many people think that a digital signature is the same thing as an eSignature, but they are actually two different things. And it’s important to understand the difference, so you’ll know when each type of solution is required.

What are digital signatures?

The terms “digital signature” and “electronic signature” are often used interchangeably, but they are actually two different things. And the most significant difference is that a digital signature provides an additional layer of security than electronic signatures.

An electronic signature is an electronic signature that’s attached to a document or contract. An eSignature is typically added to a proposal or contract, and it indicates an individual’s intent to sign that particular document.

In contrast, a digital signature is an encrypted version of that document, and it guarantees that the document is authentic. To create a digital signature, you’ll need to create a special certificate, which can only be done with certain types of software.

Both electronic signatures and digital signatures are legally binding, so in many instances, an electronic signature will be enough. But a digital signature will be necessary for those rare instances when an additional layer of security is necessary.

A digital signature may be necessary for the following situations:

  • High-value contracts
  • It’s legally required
  • You need to be able to enforce a contract
  • You need to eliminate the possibility of tampering

How do digital signatures work?

To create a digital signature, you’ll need a digital signature certificate. This certificate is a personal key that encrypts the documents and guarantees its safety.

A digital signature certificate will also contain pertinent information about each user, including their name, email address, and location. You can store this certificate on your hard drive, so only you can access it.

When you sign a new document with your digital signature certificate, the document is hashed, and the information is translated into a code. The document is then encrypted with your personal key.

These extra steps are what makes a digital signature more secure than an electronic signature. Instead of just using a symbol, it contains your personal key, which verifies the validity of the document.

The document will then be returned to the original sender, who will create their own hashed version of the document. If the contents of the document are altered after both parties sign, then it won’t match the hash in the digital signature. This way, you know all of your documents are secure and tamper-proof.

Electronic signature tools

If you want to create a digital signature, then you’re going to need the right supporting software. Fortunately, there are several digital signature tools on the market that can give you the resources and support you need.

Let’s look at two popular resources:

Adobe Sign

Adobe Sign is cloud-based eSignature software offered by Adobe Acrobat. Adobe Sign allows its customers to create digital signatures that comply with all necessary legal regulations.

You can create a digital ID and signature, knowing that it’s accurate and provides a high level of security.

After you sign a document using Adobe Sign, both your signature and the PDF document are secured with a tamper-proof seal. You’ll receive a unique PIN and digital certificate that will help you verify your identity.

And if the contract’s validity is ever questioned, Adobe Sign makes it easy for both participants to revalidate the document for up to 10 years.

DocuSign

DocuSign provides digital signature software that is compliant with all eIDAS regulations. That means you can conduct business globally without worrying about varying electronic signature standards.

The company’s digital signature tools are available on mobile devices and in the cloud. And you can embed the company’s tools on your website and company app. This makes it easier to quickly collect legally binding digital signatures.

How to add a digital signature using PandaDoc

If you want to create a digital signature using PandaDoc’s software, you’ll start by logging into your account. You can either upload a new document or choose an existing document.

Once you’re ready, you can drag and drop the signature field into your document. Then you can either add your signature or forward the document to your client. The software will prompt you on how to forward documents to all the relevant parties.

If you aren’t currently a PandaDoc customer, you can get started by trying out our Free eSign Plan. This plan provides free, legally binding electronic signatures and documents to everyone who signs up.

And you can always upgrade your account later if you find that you need more functionality.

A streamlined solution for your company

One of the benefits of using software like PandaDoc is that it’s about more than just collecting electronic signatures. PandaDoc is really a one-stop-shop for all of your document management needs.

With PandaDoc, you can create your own digital signature. You can also create, approve, and send off proposals and contracts. And while you’re waiting for the document to be signed, you can easily track the activity within the analytics dashboard.

If you’re interested in learning more about PandaDoc, you can either sign up for a free trial or utilize our Free eSign Plan.