How to download a digital signature
Understanding how to download a digital signature is becoming ever more important.
In the modern business environment, digitally signing documents has become a popular choice.
It’s easy to see why: eSigning documents is quick, easy, and convenient.
But how does the signing process actually work?
First, let’s look at a few different kinds of digital signatures and the differences between them.
What types of digital signatures are there?
If you’re thinking about using a digital signature online to fill and sign documents, it’s important to understand the different types of eSignatures available:
A simple digital signature is, well, the simplest type, and isn’t protected by an encryption protocol.
For example, the check box that confirms your identity on an online permission form would count as a simple digital signature.
Another example would be when you take a handwritten signature and scan a PNG of the signature image, then paste it into a document.
These days, it’s best not to rely on digitally signing documents this way.
That’s because the lack of encryption means it can’t be secure. In practice, what this means is that a signer can’t use them for legal authentication purposes.
One step up is the basic digital signature.
The main difference with this type of eSignature is that it has one additional functionality that simple digital signatures lack.
That is, they can show any changes that occur after the document is signed.
The encryption methods used are still too simple to be able to establish a legally watertight digital ID, though.
Advanced & Qualified
The reality is, if you’re wondering how to add digital signatures to PDF documents or how to use them for other professional purposes, you need to use advanced and qualified eSignatures.
These verify the identity of the signer via two-factor authentication on your desktop or mobile device.
In most jurisdictions, this generates a digital ID that has the same legal force as a handwritten signature for document authentication.
What are the benefits of using digital signatures?
There are a number of advantages to using digital signatures to authorize your documents.
1. Saves time
When you don’t need a handwritten signature, it speeds up the signing process.
2. Saves on costs
It’s much easier to go paperless and save on printing and postage costs if you can just digitally sign pdf files.
3. More convenient for customers
If your customer can eSign documents or contracts on their mobile device without having to come into your office, they’ll have a much more satisfying experience.
4. More efficient workflow
With digital signature certificate (DSC) technology and solutions like PandaDoc, you can simply drag and drop signature fields into your documents and send them to the intended recipient.
5. Legally valid
The advanced encryption protocols ensure that the signer is who they say they are.
The inbuilt tracking functionality is also useful for transparency and compliance purposes.
6. Highly secure
Because digital signatures use two-factor authentication such as sending a code to a mobile device or using a physical USB token with a token password, they’re very secure.
Is there a difference between digital signatures and electronic signatures?
This is sometimes a source of confusion. In fact, the terms are often used interchangeably. Strictly speaking, however, a digital signature is a special kind of electronic signature.
Electronic signatures include any digital method of signing and authenticating a document (such as ticking a check box on a declaration, for instance).
An electronic signature counts as a digital signature if it has a rigorous enough approach to establishing your identity through a digital signature certificate.
What counts as a legally binding eSignature varies from country to country.
How can I create and download a digital signature?
So you may be wondering how to create and download a digital signature. The truth is it couldn’t be simpler:
Creating a digital signature
The first step is turning your handwritten signature into a signature image in JPG or PNG format.
There are several options:
- Scanning your signature
- Taking a photograph of your signature with a high-resolution camera
- Writing your signature directly onto a tablet with a stylus
At this point, you may be thinking: “how do I know the image of my signature won’t just be copied and used by someone else?”
It’s a great question, and that’s the point of digital signatures.
Unlike electronic signatures, digital signatures are authenticated against an electronic fingerprint that validates your identity.
Downloading a digital signature
When we talk about downloading a digital signature, what we really mean is downloading the digital signature certificate that authenticates it.
Digital signatures are encrypted using something called Public Key Infrastructure (PKI).
What this essentially does is prove that your digital signature belongs to you and you alone.
These download certificates are issued by third-party certification authorities, and the easiest way of getting one is to sign up to a professional platform like PandaDoc, which provides them as part of the service.
What are some use cases for digital signatures?
Digital signatures are becoming an essential element of modern document workflows.
Whether you’re creating documents in Adobe Acrobat, Microsoft Office, or Google Docs, it’s likely you’ll need to get many of them signed as quickly and reliably as possible.
A few examples of where you can use them are:
- Employment contracts
- Sales agreements
- Supplier contracts
- Purchase orders
- Legal agreements
- IP licensing agreements
A better option for downloading digital signatures
A scanned signature is just the starting point for managing document workflows.
With PandaDoc, what you get is a pack of useful features and integrations that help take your documents from concept to finished result with ease.
Choose from over 750 options in our business template library.
There’s also dedicated proposal, quoting, and contract management to simplify your work processes.
And when it comes to considering how to download a digital signature, it’s equally important to think about what happens next.
Once you’ve created your digital signature online, our eSignature tools integrate with an online payment solution, so you can collect any payment due immediately after your documents are signed.
All in all — a better, quicker, and more secure way of downloading the digital signatures you need for your business.