Digital signatures have become common, and are requested now in a large number of places. If you've had a UPS delivery lately, you've likely had to sign on an electronic device. If you've eaten at a growing number of restaurants with tabletop gizmos for ordering and paying, you've used your index finger to sign a receipt on the screen. Even my accountant allows for his pdf form tax worksheets to be electronically signed.
When I send contracts to clients for building their websites, I too now require a signature to indicate they have read all the terms and conditions that apply. And this is sometimes a stumbling block for clients who are still accustomed to faxing or snail-mailing hard copy paper records, or who have no printer for the laborious process of printing a signature page, signing the old fashioned way, scanning the signed page back into the computer as a photo, then return emailing the photo of the page for my records.
So this post offers four ways to accomplish a digital signature that everyone should master for doing business in today's world.
The iPhone Notes Draw Option
To practice your signature on a mobile device, I recommend using the Draw option in the Notes program on your iPhone. I'd wager that other brand phones may have a similar feature as well. This is a great option because you can sign and re-sign until writing with your index finger feels natural to you. And you can change the color and thickness of the "ink" to suit your personal style.
When ready, save the signature as a photo in your phone. Then access your Photos app to email the signature to yourself. This basically duplicates or transfers the signature from your phone to your laptop or desktop computer. Be sure to save the image to a folder / library where you can find it when you need it.
The MyLiveSignature.com Option
This online tool provides 120 fonts to try out as a facsimile of your own signature. While there may not be a perfect match for your handwriting, it's likely that there is at least one that is pretty darn close. Just type in your name, then sort through the fonts which will show your name exactly as it will appear in the final version.
When you have selected a font, the wizard will provide you with size choices and even with the ability to give the signature a slant if you tend to write on an upward diagonal. It's also possible to select a color before saving or sending the signature to yourself.
The Acrobat Reader / PDF Fill & Sign Option
Many online forms today -- from job applications to IRS forms to entrepreneurial contracts are initially sent or downloaded as PDF files. Acrobat Reader is the standard program for opening these files that won't open in Word, and is nearly universally available on every new computer. The newest version of Acrobat Reader has a free Fill & Sign feature made especially for completing these forms.
Open the PDF form in this program, then look on the right side column for the Fill & Sign link. Click the link and the program will blank for a second then re-open in the interactive version. Be sure to fill in any portions that can / should be typed first before adding the signature.
At the top of the screen, about in the middle of the tool bar you'll see the Sign icon with a very old looking ink pen nub. Click that and you'll then have the ability to access a saved signature image from the folder / library where you have saved it. Acrobat Reader will keep the signature image you choose in its system on your computer for additional future use.
The DocuSign.com Option
The San Francisco based company DocuSign provides, for a fee, a high level of security for your digital signature that is useful for big dollar contracts, and other legal document uses. Especially used in the real estate industry, DocuSign has low cost plans for individuals such as solopreneurs or family members who just occasionally need their special public key infrastructure (PKI) on super important documents such as insurance claims or indemnity papers.
I have used the first 3 of these methods, and can guarantee that they work as directed.