It’s easy to create an electronic signature on a Microsoft Word document without leaving the application. Electronic signatures establish a binding and enforceable legal document that is widely accepted in the industrialized world and more secure than conventional paper-based signatures because they are less vulnerable to forgery.
Read on to learn how to create an electronic signature in Word with this simple tutorial in just a few steps.
What is an Electronic Signature?
An electronic signature, also known as eSignature, is simply a digitized version of a traditional physical signature, providing a way to sign documents. Like a traditional handwritten signature, electronic signatures are mainly there to show that the signer has approved the paper in question.
Besides, many people think that eSignatures make documents look more professional, which is very important when it comes to presenting the right image in the business community.
Significance of eSignatures
E-signatures are much easier to use than conventional signatures because you don’t need to print, manually sign, and then scan the paper back to the sender. You just need to create eSignatures once, and then you can quickly and securely apply them to any future text.
E-signatures are valuable to anyone who wants to submit signed documents regularly. Teams like sales teams, contract management, and just about any company owner or administrator will benefit tremendously from their use.
If used right, the digital signature is also legally binding in the same manner as the physical signature. They can even be encrypted, so it’s secure to use and in important and confidential papers.
Why Add an Electronic Signature with Microsoft Word?
Microsoft Word is a popular word processing program used by companies and individuals around the world to create documents. Since it is so commonly used, many people want to apply eSignatures to Word documents to improve the speed of their document processes.
The biggest drawback of incorporating electronic signatures into your Word files is that most people already use the app to create and update their documents.
However, though this may be the most apparent advantage, be sure that the company can indeed support the use-case of electronic signatures before moving forward with a solution.
How to Electronically Sign a Word Document
Follow these necessary steps to add electronic signatures to a Microsoft Word document (these steps apply to Microsoft Word versions 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Word in Office 365):
- Place the cursor where you want your signature line to be in your Word document.
- Go to the Insert tab and click “Signature List” under “Text,” followed by “Microsoft Office Signature Line.”
- Fill out the signature information fields in the setup box that comes up and pick your signature preferences.
- Right-click on the document signature box.
- Click the “Select Image” button to choose a signature image that you have already saved.
- Alternatively, if you are using a touch screen, you can draw your signature in the box by hand.
- Or you can type a printed version of your name directly into the box.
Although it is totally possible to customize eSign documents using Word, the signature setup may be a cumbersome method. Any person signing the contract would need to download the document, open it in Word, and add their signature or print and hand-sign it.
You would also need to save the document and send it back to the sender, which just wastes time and possibly opens up room for human error.
Limitations of Using Word for eSignatures
Word is not developed as an electronic signature software, and although it can be used to digitally add signatures, certain functionality gaps restrict its potential benefits.
The greatest drawback of using Word is that you can’t do what most apps can do when you obtain a signature. Documents are signed in order to agree on the contents of the text and to add validity, which also means that they need to be submitted to other intended recipients.
Imagine that your company would like to submit a business proposal to prospective customers or prospects. You need to produce a paper first, sign it electronically, and submit it, probably to hundreds of recipients.
These receivers need to read it, sign it themselves, and give it back. Ideally, you can easily submit the document to a target list, and then see how each recipient dealt with the document before signing it. Unfortunately, this is not possible for Word.
Another big downside to Word is that it’s not the quickest way to incorporate signature lines and eSign documents. This may not be a big problem for those who seldom send papers that need to be signed, but it may be very time-consuming for businesses and agencies who send a large amount of sales documents, such as plans and quotations, to use Word.
What You Can Do
There are several examples of software devoted to digitally producing, sending, and signing sales documents, such as DocuSign and PandaDoc. These platforms provide a much wider variety of useful functionality, making it generally simple to create signature fields and eSignatures.
For example, PandaDoc provides users with a large database of templates customized to a wide variety of business uses, such as various types of quotes and proposals, to speed up the production of high-quality, competent sales materials.
Adding an eSignature is so stress-free on these specialized platforms mostly assisted by responsive interfaces and one-click additions. When signed, documents can be delivered to a list of recipients quickly and conveniently, directly from the software itself, and a secure signing certificate can be issued.