How to create an electronic signature

4 ways to make an electronic signature

An electronic signature, and all signatures, seem like trusty gold nuggets of the legal world, but they are more malleable than you might expect. If you only want methods to create an electronic signature, skip down to the bottom, but for more background first read on.

A bit of background on electronic signatures

You can make many kinds of electronic signature, in many ways. You can type, touch, draw, or upload an image to make your signature. Your signature could be the tick of a checkbox, or touch scrawl of an 'X' (so long as you always reliably did that for your signature). It could be a cryptographic 'key'.

You can use all those to sign a document.

But not always, even if you do use a 'signature'. Apply an electronic signature, and it can still mean nothing (signing an e-card), while the quick tick of a checkbox could mean you just executed a contract...

The difference you will have appreciated, between an 'electronic signature' that means something, or means nothing, depends on the context.

The first electronically signed contract in the UK was an email 'signed' by a name typed at the bottom of it, or in other words, signed off just like every other email ever sent. But, the content turned out to qualify as a contract, and the typed name in that context was the person's electronic signature.

Your signature is a representation of you and your writing of it, or application of it, shows your intent. It is confirmation of your intent that is needed to make a valid electronic signature.

That's why you can scribble an 'X' at the bottom of a document, or tick a box, and still be deemed to have signed that document.

4 ways to create an electronic signature

1. Basic signature with your pen, paper, and phone - the 'old' electronic signature method. Sign your name on a piece of paper, photograph it and then cut it down on a desktop photo editor to get a neat image of your signature. Many people will accept these if they are inserted into a document and sent back to them.

2. Basic signature with Adobe Reader. Reader comes with an inbuilt signature function. You'll see a small fountain-pen icon along the top bar, click that then the 'Sign' option that appears below. Type or scrawl your signature and then place it on the page. Save your PDF and email it back to the sender.

3. Qualified electronic signature. The European Regulation on electronic signatures (eIDAS) defines a top-level of signature called a 'qualified' signature. You can get a qualified signature, which is based on cryptography. Each one will have its own way to apply itself to the document. In some European countries, the qualified signature may be related to your ID card. If the document doesn't require a qualified signature, and you don't already have one, you may be better going for an 'advanced' electronic signature - read on.

4. Advanced electronic signature with Legalesign esignature software. If someone sent you a document to sign via Legalesign, it's easy. Click the link that was sent to you via email, go through any additional verification (perhaps SMS validation), and then sign the document with the options the sender allows. That could be a touch/mouse drawn signature, a typed or uploaded signature (even if you created an image via method 1, and upload it to Legalesign, in our context it becomes an 'advanced electronic signature'). Fill out any other form fields and make some final confirmations. You will just have signed with an 'advanced' electronic signature. If you want to sign a document that has been sent to you or send a document to get signed, then sign up for a free trial now, and you get five free electronic signatures.

If you want to know more about electronic signature, or about Legalesign software and how it could help you, contact our experts for an informal chat today.

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