How do you sign documents online?

Handwritten signatures are a thing of the past. Simple but incredibly useful technology means that it’s now easier than ever to sign documents without having to go anywhere near a printer or scanner.

But how exactly do you sign documents online? And what are the different options available to both document-creators (those seeking a signature) and signees?

There are a number of options for people that want to sign online, from basic Google Docs integrations to multi-feature paperless solutions. Let’s take a quick look at each.

What is an eSignature?

An electronic signature is a virtual signature – in the form of an image of a hand-signed signature, a digital rendering, or a hand-typed name – included at the end of a document to signify agreement.

There are various types of electronic signatures, each with differing levels of security. At the less secure end of the spectrum, an example would be a scanned image of a handwritten signature uploaded to a Google Doc document. The most secure example is a digital signature, which requires a special signature certificate or “key” from an awarding organization. The verification of a digital signature includes checks, ID verification, and numerous levels of encryption.

Between these two examples are electronic signatures that don’t require special keys but come with extra security features. When signing online, you usually add these kinds of signatures to a document or request one from your recipients. They require the use of a third-party electronic signature tool, like PandaDoc, DocuSign, Adobe Sign, HelloSign or SignNow, which can be integrated with web apps and interfaces.

What are the benefits of electronic signatures?

Aside from the obvious time and money savings that online signatures bring, there are a number of other benefits:

Fully legal and secure

There are numerous pieces of legislation that ensure the legality of electronic signatures, including but not limited to ESIGN, UETA, and eIDAS. Because electronic signatures can be traced, especially if they have been made using an online tool, they are also usually much easier to verify than handwritten signatures.

Improves close rates for senders

Companies and individuals that add electronic signature options to their documents usually see a sizeable increase in close rates for proposals, quotes, contracts, etc. This is because it’s far easier for recipients to quickly type their name and hit send then it is to print, scan, and re-scan a document.

Easy to add multiple signatures

Online documents with eSignature options are accessible for numerous signees, which reduces the time and effort needed to coordinate with multiple people.

How to sign in Google Docs

Google Docs is the most popular in-browser word processor. To add a signature to a Google Doc, follow the steps below:

  1. Open the Google Docs document and place your cursor where you want the signature to go.
  2. Click Insert on the top toolbar and select Drawing from the dropdown menu. Click +New.
  3. Click the Line button and choose Scribble. You can now hand-write your signature.
  4. Click the Save and close button.
  5. Download the document in your format of choice (PDF, Microsoft Word, OpenOffice, etc.).

How to sign in a web app with PandaDoc

There are two ways to add a signature to a document in software using PandaDoc, whether the app in question is a CRM like HubSpot or Salesforce, accounting software, cloud storage, or any other online browser-based software. The easiest, and by far the quickest method, is to use an integration. Alternatively, if you want to add signing tools to your own app, you can use the Javascript Developer Kit.

The method below is for those who want to add eSignature functionality to their online apps:

  1. Log into the PandaDoc app and navigate to the Settings tab from the toolbar on the left-hand side of the screen.
  2. Select Settings and pick the Integrations option.
  3. Pick the app which you want to integrate with and click Enable.
  4. You will then be given instructions showing you how to set up the integration with your chosen app. Once everything’s set up, you can then sign documents from within your app of choice.

How to sign PDF and Word documents online with PandaDoc

The final way to sign online is to upload a document directly to PandaDoc. Signing PDFs and Word Documents like this allows you to take advantage of the extra security. Simply follow the steps below:

  1. Log into your PandaDoc account and click “New Document”.
  2. Select the Upload tab and locate the file that you wish to sign. It will upload to PandaDoc and be viewable through the interface.
  3. If you do not wish to edit any of the text in the document, click the Display As Is option.
  4. Select the Signature tab from the toolbar on the right and drag-and-drop a field to the appropriate place in the document.
  5. Click on the signature box and assign yourself as the recipient (you may need to add yourself as a new contact if your details are not already in the database).
  6. Click on the signature field again and create the signature by either hand-drawing one, uploading an image, or typing in your name.
  7. Click the Complete button and either download the file in your desired format or send it directly to the original sender.

Conclusion

Unless you want to settle for the basic functionality available in online apps like Google Docs, signing documents online requires dedicated electronic signature software. This software allows you to sign practically any document in your app of choice across your iPhone, iPad or Safari on Mac, while also providing you with a host of features that ensure that your contracts, proposals, quotes will be secure as possible.

If you would like to give PandaDoc a test-drive and see first-hand how an electronic signature tool works, you can sign up for a free 14-day trial.