Adobe has been a leader in digital signatures for a number of years. Their products make it easy to view, edit, and even convert PDF documents, something that is essential for many businesses.

It’s also possible to create an electronic signature in Adobe. Today, we’ll take a closer look at what options are available to you when trying to sign PDFs using Adobe products.

Let’s jump right in.

Adobe Reader DC


Also known as Adobe Acrobat Reader DC or simply Adobe Reader, this is the simplest PDF solution that Adobe offers. Adobe Reader allows users to view, comment, print, and sign PDFs, and its tools have set standards in the market for what is possible when dealing with PDF documents.

The reason that Adobe Reader is such a trendsetter is because it’s free, and that makes it a great baseline to compare against while shopping around for a more robust product. However, because Adobe also offers upgraded versions of Adobe Reader for a price (see below), Adobe Reader is somewhat limited in what it can do, especially when it relates to digital signatures.

With Adobe Reader, users can sign their own documents using the Fill & Sign tool. Using this tool, you can add an image of your signature to a PDF file by simply designating a signature field and applying a drawn signature to the document.

(It’s also worth noting that Fill & Sign is available as a standalone app on your computer and touch screen devices.)

If you’re only signing documents for yourself as a reference for future use, this might be sufficient for your needs. But if you’re looking for electronic signatures with digital IDs and better security, Adobe Reader may not be the best fit.

The software will allow you to collect two certified and legally binding digital signatures every month so that you can see how the process works. This online signature technology is powered by Adobe Sign and the Adobe Document Cloud.

By the way, if you’re looking for a no-limit, free solution to get your documents signed, sign up for the PandaDoc Free e-Sign plan!

This plan allows you to send unlimited documents and create an unlimited number of legally binding electronic signatures — all for free. You can even collect payments by connecting a payment gateway to your document.

Adobe Acrobat Pro


This is the paid or pro-level version of Adobe Reader, and it comes equipped with even more PDF functionality than the free version.

With Acrobat Pro, users pay about $15 per month for unparalleled control over PDF documents. Users can view, comment, print, and sign PDFs, just like Adobe Reader. They can also collect feedback, create new PDFs, and export PDFs to other formats, like Word and Excel.

As with Adobe Reader, Acrobat Pro connects with Adobe Sign and the Document Cloud in order to create authentic, digital signatures. Because the software isn’t limited by two transactions per month, it’s possible to do much more with this software solution.

After you finish placing signature boxes within your PDF document, you’ll click on the “Fill & Sign” button within Acrobat Pro. From there, you can add any number of email recipients as you add signers, determine modes of authentication, compose a message, and send invitations to complete your signed document.

Once all of that is done, all you need to do is wait for signers to complete their tasks. If you’d like to track the agreements that you’ve sent for signature, you can do that under the dropdown menu in the “Home” section of the user interface. When you navigate to that section, you’ll notice a blue button that says “Open in Adobe Sign.”

Clicking that button will take you to Adobe Sign, the software technology that powers everything we’ve talked about so far.

Now that you know how to capture electronic signatures on two of Adobe’s premiere signing products, it’s time to address Adobe Sign in full.

Adobe Sign


If you browse the Adobe website, the battery of product offerings under the “PDF & E-signatures” dropdown menu can get confusing. There are so many options that it’s difficult to tell what might be a good fit for users.

However, when it comes to electronic signatures, Adobe has taken major steps over the last few years to house its digital signature technology under one roof. That’s Adobe Sign, and Adobe has slowly replaced all of its separate systems with this one technology solution.

Signatures captured through Adobe Sign are different from signature files attached to a document. While you can still submit an image of your signature when using Adobe Sign, the real power behind it comes from the digital ID files that are created when signing.

Adobe Sign uses public key infrastructure (PKI) to ensure that all digital IDs are certified and authentic before a document is distributed. This additional layer of security is what makes signatures captured through Adobe Sign authentic and legally binding.

Just like Adobe Reader and Acrobat Pro, Adobe Sign offers tiered versions of the software based on your needs. At the basic level, users can request electronic signatures, get reminders, and prepare forms. At higher levels, users can collect online payments, integrate with other software, and design specific workflows.

But the foundation of the entire platform comes down to digital signatures. If you or your business connects with Adobe through any software with the intent to use it for digital signature capture, all roads eventually lead to Adobe Sign.

Sign documents even faster with PandaDoc

As you might expect, Adobe Sign isn’t the last word when it comes to collecting electronic signatures online.

While Adobe is an excellent platform when it comes to editing PDFs or transforming them into other file types, PandaDoc can help you create documents from scratch and get them signed at lightning speed.

Using the PandaDoc editor, you can build user-friendly documents without paying for expensive software (like Adobe InDesign) and keep all documents editable throughout the signing process. If your customer has objections to a contract, or if you need to revise an invoice before collecting payment, it’s easier than ever to update your documents using PandaDoc.

Sign up for a free 14-day trial and see what you can build with PandaDoc!


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