How to add an electronic signature in Google Forms

Online forms have a lot of uses. They’re an easy way for companies, nonprofits, and even individuals to collect data and sign people up for different events.

Healthcare organizations, childcare providers, and entertainment venues are just three examples of companies that can collect data prior to an event by sending participants a link to a form.

This can replace paper methods like intake forms or waivers, as long as there’s a spot for an electronic signature. It’s a time-saving, money-saving, and lately, potentially life-saving, mechanism.

E-signatures make it easier for people to sign contracts and documents and get started on projects right away. When companies adopt e-signatures, they see an 83 percent improvement in getting approvals and save 86 percent in document costs.

For companies that need a simple form signed, it makes sense to embed the e-signature into an electronic form, then send the form link to the person who needs to sign it. Since Gmail boasts more than 1.5 billion global active users, it makes sense to add an electronic signature in Google Forms since users can easily access the platform from their Google accounts.

Pro Tip

Create an e-signature form with JotForm’s free e-signature, Smooth Signature, DocuSign, or Adobe Sign widgets.

Can you add an e-signature in Google Forms?

If the Google support forums are any indicator, there is no easy way to add an electronic signature in Google Forms. Users have looked in multiple places, including the Google Apps marketplace, and have come up empty.

Technically, Google Forms doesn’t have an electronic signature feature or an add-on that can be used. Instead, Google Forms users devise workarounds, like including a field for users to type in their initials to indicate they accept that as an e-signature alternative.

The problem with using a field for people to type in initials or their name, or adding a checkbox, is that there is no real electronic signature, just the honor system. It doesn’t confirm the identity of the person signing the document in any meaningful way.

E-signature software like DocuSign and Adobe Sign generates a security certificate that includes traceable information — who signed the document, when they signed it, and where they signed it — which typically includes the IP address of the signer. This software complies with the U.S. ESIGN Act and Uniform Electronic Transactions Act (UETA) so that, if there’s any question about or dispute over the document, the signature can be verified.

With a workaround, important elements of ESIGN and UETA aren’t met and issues arise. You won’t have a record that specifies how the signature was created, or text or a graphic added to the signed record to prove it was signed with an electronic signature. This leaves a lot of wiggle room for people to back out of contracts or claim they didn’t understand a contract.

How to ensure your e-signature is valid

For those who want to make sure the e-signatures on their forms are enforceable, Google Forms may not be the best choice. Since there’s no way to add an e-signature field, it’s worth looking elsewhere for forms that require a signature — ideally, choosing a form provider that can integrate with the e-signature platform of your choice.

There are a lot of e-signature widgets that can be embedded into forms; it’s a matter of company or personal preference as to which one you use. The following programs all provide the audit trail required to comply with applicable laws for electronic signatures:

Adding e-signatures to forms

Creating online forms with e-signatures is a fairly easy process. Look for a form provider that lets you drag and drop fields into your forms. The form builder should also have templates that help you create online forms, which will save you time and let you send documents to customers and prospects much faster.

Make sure it’s easy to add e-signatures to your forms. As you examine e-signature solutions and form providers, pay attention to the ones that will make this a simple process. Ideally, you should be able to add the e-signature as quickly as you would any other form element, like a checkbox.

While there is no easy way to add an e-signature field to Google Forms, you can still get your electronic forms signed. You just need to choose a provider that has a widget for e-signatures or that lets you integrate a widget from the e-signature provider you want to use.

This article is originally published on Sep 09, 2020, and updated on Jul 13, 2021.
Digital transformation pioneer documentation specialist. Trying to secure precious data, one byte at a time. Father of two dogs. You can reach Geoff through his contact form.

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