What Is an Electronic Signature?

Jun 19, 2024
10 min
how to sign a pdf document

In recent years, the adoption of e-Signatures has significantly increased, in part due to the pandemic and the increasing shift towards remote work.

But it's still a challenge to sign a document electronically, as people often struggle to choose the right tools. They may not understand all the legal implications of e-Signatures or feel overwhelmed by the different options. Do you need to draw your signature, type your name, or upload a scan of your handwritten one? It's all very confusing.

So, in this article, we’ll explore the concept of e-Signatures, outline their benefits, and provide instructions on how to add signature to PDF documents using our tool, PDF Guru.

Electronic document signing: How does it work?

An electronic signature, much like its handwritten counterpart, serves to verify a person's identity and consent to the contents of an electronic document. It offers an easy way to sign documents online in seconds, eliminating the need for in-person meetings, printing, or mailing.

Commonly used for non-sensitive documents like contracts and reports, electronic signatures notably simplify document management. While concerns about confidentiality might come up, rest assured we'll also cover how to handle these issues.

Different types of signatures SES, AES, QES

Types of e-Signatures

There are three types of electronic signatures, each defined by its level of security.

  • Simple electronic signature (SES)

    • basic security level
    • doesn’t require digital verification
    • best used for documents with low legal risks to simplify processes

  • Advanced electronic signature (AES)

    • medium security level
    • especially useful for confirming identity without the need for full legal guarantees
    • Certificate Authority (CA) issues certificates to authenticate AES

  • Qualified electronic signature (QES)

    • the highest security level
    • uses cryptographic cards with a digital certificate
    • generated by a qualified electronic signature creation device
    • relies on a qualified electronic signature certificate

Why you should ditch wet signatures in favor of electronic ones

You may want to sign a PDF file using e-Signature for several reasons.

Сonvenience. There are plenty of built-in apps, online service, and specialized software that allow you to create PDF signatures on Windows or Mac, iPhone or iPad, and almost any other device. This functionality enhances operational efficiency and decreases turnaround times.

Cost reduction. Organizations can significantly reduce expenses associated with printing. This includes a decreased requirement for stationery items, such as paper and ink, and lower expenditures on printing hardware, such as printers and scanners.

Organization. e-Signature software facilitates a more streamlined process for storing, organizing, and retrieving your files.

Security. Advanced electronic signatures provide an added layer of security through advanced encryption and decryption processes. They also offer an unalterable audit trail that records all document modifications, making forgery and unauthorized changes highly improbable.

Embracing sustainability. We've already discussed the cost-saving benefits of going paperless, but it's crucial to highlight the environmental aspect as well. As businesses move towards greener practices, adopting an e-Signature solution can significantly contribute to your journey towards creating an eco-friendly, environmentally conscious office.

If you want to experience all these benefits, try our PDF tool now. You can use it to create an electronic signature in literal seconds.

Difference between electronic and digital signatures

digital signature vs electronic signature

An electronic signature represents consent or approval, encompassing various forms such as dates, names, signature images, etc. However, they lack inherent proof of identity.

Digital signatures utilize PKI (Public Key Infrastructure) technology and advanced encryption to authenticate signers' identities. This ensures the integrity and authenticity of signed documents are preserved.

Are electronic signatures legally binding?

Electronic signatures are considered legally binding under the ESIGN Act and the Uniform Electronic Transactions Act in the United States, and in the EU — under the regulation on electronic identification and trust services (eIDAS). These regulations establish criteria for consent and authentication, ensuring that when you e-Sign PDF files, your signature holds the same legal weight as handwritten ones.

How are electronic signatures used across industries?

Printing documents each time you get a signature request is time-consuming and costly. On the contrary, an e-Signature enables you to manage your entire workflow digitally and offers greater security than physical signatures. That's why most industries have already shifted away from handwritten signatures. Here are just some examples of digital documents that are usually signed electronically:

  • Real estate: rental and security deposit agreements, private sales contracts, etc.

  • Human resources: employment contracts, data protection agreements, policy acknowledgment, etc.

  • Sales: proposals, order forms, joint ventures, etc.

  • Retail: purchase orders, invoices, supplier agreements, etc.

  • Insurers: policy documentation, account forms, SEPA mandates, etc.

4 ways to sign electronic documents

types of electronic signatures

With PDF Guru's e-Signature service, you have multiple ways to create your electronic signature, whether it's drawn, typed, uploaded as an image, or a simple checkbox.

  1. 1

  2. Draw your signature: This method replicates the traditional pen-and-paper signing experience; you can create signature with your finger, stylus, or a computer mouse.
  3. 2

  4. Type your signature: This method allows you to insert your name/initials /date with just a few keystrokes, whether it’s your name or just a text box that says “I agree.” With PDF Guru, you can even choose font and color.
  5. 3

  6. Upload an image of your wet ink signature: All you need to do is insert the image and place it in the appropriate signature field.
  7. 4

  8. Check the box. This method can sometimes be used as an alternative for a quick acknowledgment or consent. However, it’s only appropriate if the signature process laid out for the document explicitly states that your checkmark should be considered equivalent to a signature.

How to sign PDF files with PDF Guru's e-Signature service?

sign document in pdf guru

Wondering how to sign PDF online? It’s never been easier.

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  2. Log in to your PDF Guru account and choose the Sign PDF tool.
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  4. Upload or drag & drop your file into the designated area.
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  6. Wait for your document to load in our editor.
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  8. From here on, you need to choose whether you want to Draw Signature, Type, or upload your signature as an Image. Select the appropriate tab in the pop-up window.

    Draw Signature
    Customize your signature and get down to drawing.
    Choose a custom font and type the preferred text in the Type Here section.
    Click Select Image File and make your choice.
  9. 5

  10. Next, hit Create and Use and place your signature wherever you need.

Sometimes, the document may be formatted as an electronic form with checkboxes that are ready for you to fill. Depending on the conditions, simply clicking on the box will create a checkmark, and that may be all you need to sign the document. This is especially true for quick consents or agreements.

For other cases, when clicking on the checkbox does nothing, you can find the Check tool in our editor menu and place the tick where it needs to be.

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  2. Finally, when you’re done editing and signing your file, go to Done and choose the preferred format for downloading.

If you need more tools to work efficiently with your documents, PDF Guru has many to offer. Edit, merge, compress, and convert your files in mere seconds.

How to remove a signature from PDF?

how to delete signature from pdf

  1. 1

  2. Log in to your PDF Guru account and find the Sign PDF tool.
  3. 2

  4. Upload or drag & drop your document into the designated area.
  5. 3

  6. Choose Edit Object from the toolbar and hit All.
  7. 4

  8. Click on your signature and Delete.
  9. 5

  10. Go to Done and choose the preferred format for downloading.

Ultimately, electronic signatures transform document handling by merging cost-efficiency, security, and eco-friendliness with the convenience of digital technology. Their widespread applicability across various industries underscores their role in modernizing business operations.

Here, at PDF Guru, we're always prepared to take action, whether it's upgrading a feature or creating a new one.