Electronic Signatures

How to Sign Something Electronically in 3 Steps

Will Cannon

Signing documents is a significant workflow for any business, especially larger businesses. Most of this is now done online, saving time, effort, and money. You no longer need to print and fax hard copies.

However, adding a digital signature to a document online can seem confusing. But don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.

In this article, we’ll explain how to sign something electronically by using the following three simple steps:

  • Define the platform you’ll use to electronically sign your document.
  • Define the type of document you need to have signed.
  • Identify an appropriate digital signature method to sign your document.

After reading this guide, you’ll be able to sign any document regardless of its format or the platform you use.

Ready? Let’s get started.

Step 1: Define Which Platform You Will Use To Insert the Electronic Signature

The first step is to select the platform that you’ll use to add a digital signature to your document. There are a number of potential options, and each have their own specificities.

You have computer platforms like Windows, Mac, and Linux. You also have smartphone platforms, like the iPhone, and the Android operating system. iPad tablets also exist, running on the macOS operating system.

We’ll outline and provide a brief summary of each platform. 

Windows

Windows is the operating system for the majority of PCs in the world. With Windows, you can digitally sign most types of documents, from PDF to Word, Google Docs, and more. However, signing Apple documents may be a little more complicated.

Mac

The macOS platform has a built-in electronic signature tool known as the “Markup” feature. This can be used to e-sign documents quickly and effortlessly, straight from an iPhone, iPad, or MacBook. Certain file types like Word or Excel might be tougher to sign.

iPhone / iPad

iPhones and iPads are Apple platforms that run on macOS, just like MacBooks do. Signing online documents is made easy and convenient, thanks to additional features like document scanning. 

You can turn a physical copy of a form into a digitally signed document in seconds. However, certain Windows-based document types won’t be as easily signed. 

Android

Android is a mobile-based platform for non-Apple smartphones such as Samsung. Web-browser-based electronic signature solutions can be used with these devices. Specific Android apps can also be taken advantage of.   

Other Platforms

Other potential platforms exist, such as Linux. As long as alternatives have internet access, you can sign something electronically.

Step 2: Define the Type of Document Where the Digital Signature Will Be Placed

The second step is to define the format of your document. This will influence the e-signature method used in step three. There’s a wide variety of document types, just as there are numerous platforms.

The most common format is the PDF. It can be used on essentially all platforms. The Word format exists on Windows and Android operating systems. Excel is in the same Microsoft Office Suite. Google Docs is a cloud-based equivalent to Microsoft Word.  

Below, we’ll go over each document type in more detail.

PDF

PDF — portable document format — is the most common document type, being used on all platforms. They can be electronically signed with every device including smartphones, computers, tablets, Macs, and PCs.

Word

Word is a Windows format for the Microsoft Word application. This type of document is a little harder to sign for most platforms, particularly macOS systems. As long as you have access to an internet browser, electronic signatures can be added.

Google Docs

Google Docs is the Google suite equivalent of Microsoft Word, and a Google Doc is the file format/type. They can be electronically signed as long as you have access to an internet browser. Some electronic signature tools can sign Google Docs as well.   

Excel

The Excel format is a file type for the Microsoft Excel application. These are spreadsheets, and they can be signed in the app. As long as you have a Windows operating system, you can e-sign Excel documents. Android devices can also be used to sign Excel spreadsheets.

Other Types of Documents

Other document types exist, and they can be signed with the signature solutions provided in step 3.

Step 3: Select a Suitable Signature Method for the Defined Platform and Document Type

Now that you’ve identified your platform and your document type, you must identify an appropriate signature solution. 

There are a handful of options at your disposal, but not all of them will be suitable for your unique situation. For instance, signing a Word document with an Apple app wouldn’t work well.

Below, we’ll outline all the potential solutions available.

1. Use an Electronic Signature Tool

One of the easiest and best ways to sign a document online is to use an electronic signature tool. This is a cloud-based app that makes adding e-signatures to any form of document a breeze.

This is an ideal signature method for any and all document workflows — from small business to enterprise. What’s so great about this strategy is that you can use it for nearly every platform and document type. It simplifies an otherwise complicated process.

How to Sign Something Electronically With Signaturely

SIgnaturely is an electronic signature tool that makes signing online documents easy.

SIgnaturely is an electronic signature tool that makes signing online documents easy. It’s free, easy-to-use, and by using it, you’ll be able to streamline your document workflow. This will save you and your organization time, effort, and money.

Signing any type of document is simple with Signaturely. Here’s a step-by-step visualization:  

1. Sign in to Signaturely, or Create an Account
The first step to take is to sign into Signaturely.

The first step to take is to sign into Signaturely. You’ll need an account if you don’t already have one. It’s free to register.

2. Select the Right ”Who Needs to Sign?” Option for Your Document
Select the right "Who needs to sign?" option for your needs

After signing in to your Signaturely account, you should automatically land on a page with three options to choose from:

  • Only Me
  • Me & Others
  • Only Others

If your document needs only your own signature, then the “Only Me” setting is what you need to select. If you also need another person’s signature, select “Me & Others.”. Lastly, the “Only Others” option is necessary if you’re only preparing the document to be signed by others. 

3. Upload Your Document File
Upload Your Document File on Signaturely

After selecting the right option in step two, you’ll be taken to a document preparation page. Scroll down until you find the “Upload File” section. This is where you’ll attach your document.

After finding and attaching your document file, wait until it loads, then press “Fill Out & Sign.” 

4. Add Your Electronic Signature With the Editor
Add your e-signature to your document along with other required information.

After following step three, you’ll be sent to a digital editor. This is where you’ll be able to add your e-signature to your document along with other required information.

Once you’ve completed adding all the appropriate information to your document, press “Send” in the top right corner. After doing this, your completed document will be sent to your Signaturely inbox, where you can download it. 

2. Use a Digitally Drawn Signature

In some instances, a digitally drawn signature makes sense. This can be achieved with an electronic signature app, an Adobe app, or an Apple app. All the solutions in this article allow you to draw your e-signature, which can be done with a stylus to achieve accuracy.

Alternatively, you can create a high-quality PNG image of your signature with Adobe Photoshop or Illustrator. A PNG image is a transparent image that you can overlay on any documents you need to have signed.

3. Use an Adobe Application

Another e-signature solution is to use an Adobe application. There are three general options you could potentially use to sign something electronically: 

3.1 Adobe Acrobat Reader

Adobe Acrobat Reader is Adobe’s easy-to-use free PDF reader and editor. It makes electronically signing PDF documents a breeze. The signature can be typed, drawn, or inserted as an image. Additional information can also be added, like names and dates.  

Here’s a run-through of how you can use Adobe Acrobat Reader to add an online signature to a PDF:

  1. Open your PDF document
  2. Select the “Sign” button located to the far right of the toolbar
Select the “Sign” button located to the far right of the toolbar
  1. A new page will appear. Select the “Fill and Sign” option
Select the “Fill and Sign” option

That’s all there is to it. The page after will have everything you need to add an e-signature to your document. You can use text for your signature or draw it.

3.2 Adobe Fill & Sign

Adobe Fill & Sign is a free web application that you can use to sign PDF documents online. As long as you have access to a web browser, you can upload a file and add your electronic signature. 

Here’s a step-by-step explanation of how this works:

  1. Start by heading to the Adobe Fill & Sign webpage
  2. Press “Select a file” to attach your PDF document
“Select a file” to attach your PDF document
  1. After the PDF document has loaded, sign in to your Adobe account
  2. If you don’t have an account, register one for free
  3. You’ll be sent to an editor where you can sign the PDF document
You’ll be sent to an editor where you can sign the PDF document

You can also add any other pieces of information that are required.

3.3 Adobe Mobile

Lastly, you can download the Adobe Fill & Sign mobile app that you can use if you’re using a smartphone platform. It allows you to take a picture of a physical document, which can be signed immediately. You can instantly send it to any others required to sign.

You can also download documents from your emails, sign them, then send them back out. Your e-signature can be drawn with your finger or stylus, or it may be simply typed. 

4. Use an Apple App

Another electronic signature solution you could utilize is an Apple application. These are most suited to those using macOS platforms, like Mac, iPhone, and the iPad.

There are two basic Apple apps you could use:

4.1 Apple Preview

The Preview app is an image and PDF viewer that can be used to fill out and sign PDF documents. It’s a default, vendor-supplied application that is compatible with all macOS platforms. If you’re using a MacBook, iPhone, or iPad, you can use this to sign PDFs.

These are the steps required to fill out and sign a PDF document on macOS:

  • Open your PDF document in the Preview app
  • Tap/click on any form field you want to fill out
  • To sign the document, look for the Markup icon

When pressing the Markup icon, you can choose to type out your signature or draw it.

4.2 Apple Mail

Like Apple Preview, Apple Mail is a default application that comes with all macOS platforms. Regardless of whether you’re using an iPad, iPhone, or MacBook, this app can help you sign something electronically. It uses the Markup feature to do so.

To take advantage of this app for e-signing documents, follow these steps:

  1. Open the Mail app
  2. Create a new email, or reply to one you’ve received
  3. Press “Insert Photo or Video or Add Attachment”
  4. Find your document
  5. Press the Markup icon to fill out and e-sign your document
  6. Attach the document to your email and hit send 

Conclusion

If you’re reading this, you now know how to sign any document digitally. This will help you and your organization save considerable time, effort, and money. Your document workflow will be much more efficient, increasing operational efficiency across all departments.

To quickly rehash, we outlined a three-step process that will help you sign any and all potential documents. These include:

  • Choosing a platform
  • Identifying your document format/type
  • Selecting an appropriate digital signature solution/method

Simply follow the guidelines detailed in this article, and you’ll be able to sign anything electronically.

Want to save time, effort, and money signing documents online? Sign up for a free Signaturely account today.

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