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Types of Signature
Electronic Signatures

5 Types of Signatures and When to Use Them

Will Cannon

Last updated on February 20, 2024

Signatures are more than just an impressive flourish of your pen; they are important symbols, legally binding, and come in various forms. Whether it’s a classic wet signature, a convenient e-signature, or a secure digital signature, each has its unique place and purpose. This article breaks down the types of signatures available, their use cases, and how to create them. 

Types of Signatures

There are numerous ways to make a mark on documents to demonstrate your agreement or endorsement. Below is a breakdown of the essential types of handwritten and electronic signatures that have transformed how we conduct business in modern times. 

1. Wet Signature

A wet signature refers to the traditional way of signing a document with pen and ink. This handwritten signature is deemed the most personal and often reflects an individual’s unique identity. When you sign a check, jot down your autograph on a book, or seal a greeting card, you use a wet signature

When to Use a Wet Signature

Although the advent of technology has introduced numerous alternatives, there are still scenarios when a wet signature is preferred or even mandatory. This may include signing legal documents such as wills, divorce proceedings, and deeds, or when parties involved prefer an ink signature’s formality and personal touch.

How to Create a Wet Signature

Creating a wet signature is as easy as putting pen to paper. A good tip for creating a wet signature is to find a design that reflects your personality yet is simple enough to be repeated consistently. There aren’t any hard rules about creating handwritten signatures, so choosing something practical and memorable is best. 

2. Electronic Signature

A notch above the conventional ink-on-paper signature, electronic signatures (also known as e-signatures) is a broad term that encompasses various forms of signatures in electronic form. It could be as simple as a scanned image of your wet signature or a typed name or as complex as a signature drawn with a stylus on a touchpad. Electronic signatures carry the same legal weight and can be used in an increasingly wider range of situations. 

When to Use an Electronic Signature

Electronic signatures are ideal for most online transactions where proof of identity and agreement is required. These include signing online contracts, sales agreements, or human resource documents. Any document that doesn’t require a traditional wet signature can be signed electronically, increasing convenience and saving time.

How to Create an Electronic Signature

Creating electronic signatures is a breeze with modern technology. Platforms like Signaturely allow you to draw, type, or upload your signature. That way, you can create your electronic signatures as you see fit.

3. Digital Signature

A digital signature is an electronic signature with an added layer of encryption and verification, making it one of the most secure signatures and reducing the risk of forgery. It’s created using specific algorithms that link the signature to the individual and the document, offering higher authenticity. 

When to Use a Digital Signature

Digital signatures are often used when high security and authenticity are required. This could include legal contracts, governmental documents, or high-stakes corporate agreements. Given its secure nature, digital signatures can provide peace of mind to all parties involved.

How to Create a Digital Signature

Creating a digital signature involves a few more steps than the other signature types, usually requiring a digital certificate from a reliable Certificate Authority. This ensures that the identity linked to the signature is verified. Platforms like Signaturely can help streamline the process, allowing you to easily create electronic and digital signatures. 

4. Click Wrap Signature

Unassuming but powerful, a clickwrap signature is a form of agreement commonly used in software licenses and online transactions. If you’ve ever clicked “I Agree” to the terms and conditions before downloading an app or making an online purchase, you’ve encountered a clickwrap signature confirming your acceptance through a simple click.

When to Use a Click Wrap Signature

Clickwrap signatures come in handy during online transactions where terms and conditions apply. It’s perfect for situations where explicit consent is needed from a user, but a handwritten or elaborate digital signature is optional. Common examples include software downloads, e-commerce checkouts, and membership sign-ups.

5. Initials, Symbols, & Marks

Stepping beyond complete signatures is the territory of initials, symbols, and marks. Below is a breakdown of these types of signatures and how they should be used. 


An initial is the first letter of a name. Sometimes, individuals use their initials instead of a full signature for brevity and ease. This is particularly common in business documents where several pages may need to be initialed. Instead of drawing or typing a complete electronic signature, parties can swipe through extensive contracts more easily. 


A symbol can be any character or image that represents the individual. Historically, family crests or personal seals were used, but a symbol can be a unique design or logo in the modern context.


A mark refers to a signature made by individuals who cannot write. Traditionally, it was an ‘X’ or other simple mark, but today, any unique, consistent mark can serve this purpose.

Now, these options offer flexibility but come with the caveat of potential forgery. They’re simpler and thus easier to imitate. 

When to Use Initials, Symbols & Marks

Initials are perfect for documents requiring acknowledgment on several pages. Symbols, though less commonly used, might serve well for artistic or personal branding purposes. Marks cater to those unable to sign conventionally due to literacy barriers or disabilities.

However, it’s essential to understand that not all contexts suit these types of signatures. For instance, legal or high-stakes corporate documents typically require full signatures for the sake of authenticity and security.

Are All Types of Signature Legal?

As the world moves deeper into the digital age, you’ll be relieved that most of these signatures have legal weight. Wet signatures, being the oldest form, are universally recognized. Electronic signatures are also widely accepted in many countries, including the U.S., Canada, Australia, and the European Union, thanks to e-signature laws such as the E-SIGN Act and eIDAS. 

Similarly, digital signatures carry legal status due to their secure nature. However, the legality of initials, symbols, and marks can be context-dependent, and additional verification may be required in some scenarios. Ultimately, digital and electronic signatures are an effective form of signing with the same legal weight as a handwritten signature.

Signaturely is the Ultimate Signing Solution

Signaturely makes its mark as the comprehensive signing solution for businesses of all sizes. It adeptly manages a broad spectrum of e-signature types, from traditional wet signatures to modern electronic, digital, and clickwrap signatures. Its top-notch security measures and user-friendly interface streamline the signing process, providing an experience that is as seamless as it is effective. Signaturely gives you peace of mind in every signed document by upholding the strictest compliance and legality standards.

Additionally, Signaturely stands out with its custom workflow capabilities, facilitating effortless document tracking and collaboration. Plus, its cost-effective pricing plans make it accessible to all.

Don’t just take our word for it – step into the world of Signaturely with a free trial and experience the ultimate legally binding e-signature solution firsthand. 

FAQs About Signature Types

Below are a few of the most frequently asked questions about signature types.

What is the most common type of signature?

The wet signature is still the most commonly used, with its physical, handwritten mark making it easily recognizable.

How do I choose my signature?

To choose your signature, it’s vital to acknowledge that your signature should be unique and easy to replicate. It’s also a representation of you and can be whatever you make it out to be.

What is an example of a typed signature? 

An example of a typed signature is your typed name, often used in electronic documents, such as rent applications and software end-user agreements.

What is the most professional signature type?

While hand-written and digital signatures have professional use cases, a digital signature is often considered the most professional due to its added security features. Both digital and electronic signatures are considered professional alternatives.

What is the hardest type of signature to copy?

Digital signatures take the lead as the hardest to copy as they’re encrypted and more secure against forgery. Investing in this digital version of your signature is essential for security use cases. 

What You Need to Remember About Types of Signatures

Navigating the complex signatures world can seem daunting in our increasingly digital business environment. However, understanding the various types – from the time-honored wet ink signature to secure, modern digital ones – is essential. Each type carries its unique significance, application, and level of security, playing a critical role in our daily legal, personal, and business transactions. 

By harnessing sophisticated tools like Signaturely, you can effectively create, manage, and secure your digital signature footprint, enhancing and streamlining your legal workflows. As a result, with a clear understanding and legal application of different signature types, you can propel your business into the future while maintaining legal compliance.

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