How to create a virtual signature

Virtual signatures, also known as “electronic signatures” or “digital signatures,” are far more efficient than traditional pen-and-ink signatures. If you’re not currently using virtual signatures or large sections of yours or your company’s workflows still rely on wet signatures, then now is a great time to switch to digital alternatives.

Companies that opt for electronic signatures can expect to see a range of benefits, including higher proposal and contract close rates, greater customer satisfaction, and fewer wasted employee hours.

Even better, leveraging electronic signatures in your business is a straightforward, inexpensive process. Furthermore, suppose you decide to use an e-signature or document management tool like PandaDoc. In that case, you’ll have access to a suite of features for streamlining and automating a range of everyday signature-related tasks.

What is a virtual signature?

There is a lot of misunderstanding around the term “virtual signature.” In a nutshell, a virtual signature is simply a digital mark, such as a scanned image of a traditional signature, that is affixed to the end of a document to signify approval.

You can use a free online tool like CreateMySignature to generate a virtual signature in seconds and save it to your hard drive. Whenever you want to “sign” a document, simply add this image to the relevant signature field.

While all virtual signatures are legally-binding, often significantly more so than pen-and-ink alternatives, some are more secure than others. Whenever a client approves a document with a management tool like PandaDoc, a signature certificate is automatically created, and a secure PDF copy of the signed document is stored securely in the cloud.

Digital signatures are a special type of virtual signature near-impossible to forge and leverage multiple layers of authentication.

Are electronic signatures the same as digital signatures?

Digital signatures are an extremely secure type of virtual signature. It’s worth noting from the outset that most individuals and companies do not need to use digital signatures and to do so would be a waste of time and resources. Normal virtual signatures are sufficient for most documents. Digital signatures tend to be used for high-value contracts and in sectors like government and defense, where confidentiality needs to be maintained.

Digital signatures rely on a type of technology called public key infrastructure (PKI). An individual purchases a unique “certificate” from an approved Certificate Authority (CA), which is stored securely on their hard drive or a USB.

They can affix this certificate to a document using specialist software, thus creating a hash, which is then encrypted. This hash (or digest) can then be decrypted using a public key by the original sender. If the hash can’t be decrypted with the public key or doesn’t match the original document, it must have been altered or forged.

What are the benefits of virtual signatures?

Virtual signatures have a number of benefits. Here’s a brief overview of the main points:

  • Fully secure and legally binding – Virtual signatures are fully secure and legally binding. In many cases, they are actually easier to verify than pen-and-ink alternatives because most recipients send email correspondence (creating an audit trail), and auto-generated signature certificates record the date, time, and location of the signer when they approve a document. Numerous pieces of legislation, including the Federal ESIGN Act and eIDAS, guarantee the enforceability of virtual signatures.
  • Easy to use and inexpensive – Companies that transition to digital workflows tend to save substantial amounts of money. Storage space, for example, can be very costly, especially for larger businesses that deal with thousands of documents. Resources spent on paper and ink for hand-signing documents also quickly add up.
  • Streamlines internal workflows – Documents often require multiple signatures from both writers and recipients. In large enterprises, this can be a particularly time-consuming process. Virtual signatures overcome this problem by enabling managers to give the green light to important documents without the need for any printing, hand-signing, faxing, or scanning.
  • Boosts proposal and contract close rates – By allowing prospective clients to use virtual signatures, you reduce the friction involved in the approval process. Prospective clients are much less likely to set aside or forget about contracts and proposals when they can sign them in a few seconds.

How to create a virtual signature in Google Docs

Follow the steps below to add a virtual signature to a Google Docs document:

  1. Open your Google Docs document in your browser.
  2. Place the cursor in the area of the document where you want your signature to go and left-click.
  3. Select Insert > Drawing > +New.
  4. Draw or type your signature and select Save and Close.

How to create a virtual signature in Microsoft Word

Adding a virtual signature to a Microsoft Word document is a straightforward task. Follow the instructions below:

  1. Open your Microsoft Word document and left-click your cursor in the area you want your virtual signature to appear.
  2. Select Insert > Text > Signature Line > Microsoft Office Signature Line.
  3. A pop-up box should appear. Fill in the relevant details and select OK.
  4. Right-click the signature area on the new line and upload an image or type your name.

This feature can also add a digital signature to a Word document if you have purchased a suitable digital certificate. Alternatively, you can create your own certificate. To simply add a text rendering or image of your signature, take a look at this guide.

How to create a virtual signature in PandaDoc

If you’re using PandaDoc’s document management solution to add a virtual signature to a PDF file or Word document, follow the steps below:

  1. Log into your PandaDoc account and select New Document and click the Upload button on the dropdown menu. Your document should appear in the PandaDoc editor.
  2. Drag and drop the Signature block from the right-hand toolbar to your preferred place in the document.
  3. Click on the new signature field and assign the relevant signer. This may be yourself or you may need to add a new person.
  4. Click on the signature field a second time. A pop-up with numerous options to add a virtual signature will appear.

Sign documents effortlessly

Are you eager to start using virtual signatures to approve documents, either as an individual or more broadly in your company? If the answer is “yes”, then digital signature software like PandaDoc provides an efficient, inexpensive way to get set up and implement effective online signature and document signing processes.

You’ll also have access to a suite of additional tools to create, track, and improve your proposals, contracts, invoices, and other documents going forward. You’ll have access to templates, apps for Android and iOS mobile devices, automation tools, and more. Take advantage of a 14-day free trial or get started with our forever free plan.