Most signatures you see on legal documents follow the same guidelines: they feature prominent initials, resemble the signer’s name, and are written in cursive.
While having your signature look like your name can arguably be useful, writing in cursive seems to have no specific purpose. So, can you write your signature in non-cursive letters? Are there rules regarding what your signature can and cannot look like?
Let’s find out.
What Counts as a Legal Signature?
A signature is considered valid when it can be linked back to its signer. A handwritten “wet” signature can be a stylized version of your legal name, your initials, or even a symbol, as long as it’s distinctive enough to be identified as yours. Although ink is the preferred way of signing, signatures written with a pencil can be just as legally binding.
In the past, it was necessary to compare signatures on papers and identifications to find out if they were valid. Nowadays, electronic signatures offer a faster, safer, and more versatile alternative.
An online signature is the electronic form of a wet signature that’s used on digital documents. Electronic signature software allows users to sign and request signatures from anyone, anywhere, which gives users more control over the signing process.
Electronic signature platforms like Signaturely allow you to upload your documents, add signature fields, and send the documents to be signed by others. They ensure all signatures are legally binding by abiding by international laws and acts like the Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act of 2000, which establishes guidelines for the validity of signatures on electronic contracts and records.
Online signature platforms allow you to store your business documents online and request multiple signatures at a time. They can also remind users that their signature is needed, and trigger processes as soon as a signature is received.
Does a Signature Have to Be in Cursive?
Traditionally, signatures on legal documents have been in cursive. However, writing in cursive doesn’t have anything to do with the legality of the signature.
As mentioned above, the most important factor to determine a signature’s validity is whether or not it authentically indicates the signer’s agreement.
Although signatures can technically be any identifying mark, writing your signature in cursive may have a few advantages over simply using a generic mark or symbol as a signature.
By writing your name, and perhaps including your middle initial, you can make the signature more identifiable. Flowing, cursive handwriting can help ensure that the same version of your signature appears across various signed documents, since it is easier to replicate than a generic symbol.
Writing your name in a stylized fashion can also showcase your style and personality.
For these reasons, although there’s no requirement to write a signature in cursive, most signees prefer to use this style.
What Are the Rules for a Signature?
Whether you’re creating a wet or digital signature, there are a few rules you’ll need to follow to ensure it’s legally valid and make it simple to authenticate.
Generally speaking, any mark can be considered a legal signature regardless of how closely it resembles the person’s printed name or how stylized it is. This frees people to sign a document with their name, drawing, unique marking, or even an “x”.
However, if questions of validity arise, your wet signature may be compared to one on an ID or another official document, such as your driver’s license. To avoid any problems with certifying your signature, it’s important to update your forms of identification with the signature you currently use.
Electronic signature rules make it easy to check for validity regardless of the signature’s appearance. Online signing software often captures a timestamp of the signature with identifiable information to prove its authenticity.
This makes online signing quite versatile and affordable, since they take less time and resources to sign. Online signature software also allows you to handle and keep track of multiple documents and signature requests at a time, and ensures the legal validity of your signatures. It also allows for more flexibility when it comes to the appearance of a digital signature, allowing you to have a separate signature for online documents without worrying if the signature looks like the one on your government-issued ID.
You can create a new signature for each document online, or keep a variety of signatures, from ones with just your initials, to stylized versions of your name. You can then choose which is most appropriate for your business documents and online agreements.
FAQs About Cursive Signatures
Here are some answers to common questions about signatures:
What is the purpose of a signature?
A signature’s main purpose is to certify that the signer has read a document and agrees with its stipulations. To keep it simple, most people use stylized variations of their names as signatures, which can make it easier to certify their authenticity.
However, as long as the signature is identifiable, it will likely serve its purpose, regardless of the signature style or consistency.
Is a signature still legal if it’s not in cursive?
Yes, a signature not written in cursive is just as legally binding as one written in cursive. Ideally, the signature should resemble the name of the signer to make it easier to authenticate. However, as long as the intention and authenticity can be proven, a signature’s style doesn’t affect its legal validity.
Since not everyone knows how to write in cursive, or even how to write at all, a signature is legal as long as it can be used to prove intent. It doesn’t matter if a signature is drawn, electronically typed, or written in cursive. If the signature can effectively be linked to the signer, its style doesn’t impact its validity.
Can a signature be typed?
Yes, a signature can be typed, drawn, or written. However, for some physical documents, a signature should match the one on an official document, like a driver’s license, to be legally binding.
Online signatures give users a more flexible alternative to wet signatures. Esigning tools can ensure typed signatures remain legally binding by following international laws and regulations. These tools can verify the validity of the signature by recording a timestamp of when the signature was placed, and include enough data to identify the user.
They also make it possible to sign documents online and transform printed contracts into online documents, as well as add signature fields for users to type, draw, or insert their signatures.
What You Need to Remember About Signing Your Name in Cursive
As we’ve seen, signing your name in cursive isn’t a legal requirement for your signatures to be valid. As long as a signature can be used to prove the intent of the person involved to fulfill the contract, it doesn’t matter if the signature is written in cursive, shortened to initials, or even expressed as a mark or drawing.
Signaturely can help you take document signing to the next level. Within minutes, you can free yourself from printed documents and start creating and collecting valid online signatures.
With Signaturely’s comprehensive software, you can transform your files into documents ready to be signed, send signature requests, manage your contracts, and more.
Sign up for free, today.