To find the best e-signature tool for your organization, you need to first consider your e-signature needs. (You can also read reviews and comparisons of electronic signature software on sites like AlternativeTo, Capterra, G2, or TrustRadius.)
When selecting an e-signature provider, there are a few factors you should take into account:
- Price. Some providers offer products exclusively for business, which can be expensive. Others cater to lower budgets. Most offer multiple products and services as well as free introductory trials.
- Security. Check the technical specifications the provider uses for identification and authentication. Not every company will use digital signatures. Also, consider customer service availability — who is available to fix your problem if and when one occurs?
- Experience. Has the provider worked with companies of your size in your industry? Read reviews from its customers.
- Integration. How will the e-signature service work with your existing software? This could have a significant impact on your ability to streamline your workflow.
Also, be sure to look for solutions that include the features your organization is looking for. Depending on your business, you might need the following:
- Custom branding. It’s important to adhere to your brand identity, even when signing documents.
- Scalability. The size of your company and the number of users who will need to use the service matter.
- Regulatory compliance. You want to remain above board by following regulations and following the laws that govern your industry.
- Reporting, workflow visualizations, and dashboards. Managers can use them to track progress.
- Notifications and reminders. You don’t want your processes to stall because one person has forgotten to approve or sign a document; these can help combat that.
- Mass signatures. Send out signatures to a large number of people in the time it would take to sign for just one.
There are many e-signature providers available, and several will likely offer what your organization is looking for. To find the best fit, consider each solution’s features and weigh them against your business needs.
Here are some of the most popular e-signature tools on the market.
As one of the most widely used business tools in the world, it’s no surprise Microsoft 365 is also one of the most popular e-signature tools.
To insert a signature line in Microsoft 365 programs, simply follow these steps:
- Place your cursor where you’d like to insert a signature line in the document.
- Click Insert.
- Click the Signature Line list, which is located in the Text group.
- Click Microsoft Office Signature Line.
- In the Signature Setup dialog box, type the information that will appear beneath the signature line, like the signer’s name, title, and/or email address. (You can even include signee instructions if you’d like, such as “Before signing the document, verify that the content is correct.”)
- Select one or both of the following checkboxes:
- Allow the signer to add comments in the Sign dialog box
- Show sign date in signature line
And to remove signature lines from Microsoft 365, simply
- Open the document or worksheet that contains the electronic signature you’d like to remove.
- Right-click the signature line.
- Click Remove Signature.
- Click Yes.
You can also remove a signature by clicking the arrow next to the signature in the Signature Pane and then clicking Remove Signature.
Adobe Acrobat Reader
Adobe’s Portable Document Format (PDF) is a common format for fixed-layout documents. Like Word, Adobe PDF has added a range of capabilities since it was first introduced to the market in 1993, including the ability to electronically sign a PDF file for authentication.
If you’re a Windows user, you’re probably familiar with PDF readers. These computer programs allow you to open PDF files, or files with the .pdf file extension. The most popular option is Adobe Acrobat Reader.
To add an electronic signature to a PDF, follow these steps:
- Open the PDF file in Adobe Acrobat Reader.
- Click on Fill & Sign in the Tools pane on the right.
- Click Sign, and then select Add Signature.
- A popup will open with three options: Type, Draw, and Image. Select whether you’d like to type your name in the field, draw your signature, or browse and select an image of your signature.
- Click the Apply button.
- Drag, resize, and position the signature inside your PDF file.
Knowing how to sign PDF documents will give you an edge in today’s online world. For further information on how to add an electronic signature to a PDF using third-party tools, refer to Jotform’s complete guide to editing PDFs.
Founded in 2003, DocuSign pioneered some of the key technologies used in e-signatures. Today, the company has more than 475,000 customers and hundreds of millions of users across the world.
DocuSign works on both Mac and Windows, and integrates with Google, Salesforce, and many other apps. DocuSign offers excellent security and encryption solutions. It’s the only provider to be ISO 27001 and SSAE 16 certified. In addition, DocuSign also complies with the xDTM Standard — the transaction management standard for an open, digital world.
This all adds up to a first-class service at an affordable price. Individuals or casual users pay $10 per month. The standard plan for multiple users is $25 per user, per month. If you’d like to try DocuSign, there’s also a 30-day trial.
In 1999, Adobe introduced some of the first digital signatures in Adobe Acrobat and Adobe Acrobat Reader. Since then, the company has worked with experts and certificate providers across the industry to create an open standard.
Today, Adobe is the “first global vendor to deliver open, standards-based digital signatures for web and mobile.” The company has worked with experts in the Cloud Signature Consortium to set up a new global standard.
Adobe Sign provides world-class compliance and includes built-in authentication features. It’s also Microsoft’s preferred e-signature solution, so you can take care of signature tasks without ever leaving Microsoft 365.
Pricing for a single user starts at $12.99 per month. For teams, you’ll need to sign up for a team plan, which starts at $14.99 per person, per month. A free 30-day trial is also available.
Formerly eSignLive by VASCO, OneSpan emphasizes its history of working with governments and regulated industries. Founded in 1991, OneSpan has more than 10,000 customers, including more than half of the world’s top 100 banks. Customer reviews mention ease, flexibility, and security as some of the software’s positive qualities.
When it comes to maintaining trust and achieving the highest completion rates possible, brand consistency is a large concern for big organizations. For a reasonable cost, OneSpan allows companies to deliver highly personalized digital experiences that put their brands front and center.
OneSpan offers a free online demo for users to try out. After that, it costs $20 per user, per month.
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Adapting to new technology is a challenge. However, technology offers many rewards and the opportunity to get more people excited about your organization. Don’t leave electronic signatures out of your operations. E-signatures not only make your operations faster and cheaper.
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How can I find help to use this technology to acquire this technology to use to acquire 10,000 signatures for each of the states of all the United States for a political election?
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I am trying to download an electronic signature directly into a field in a webpage that requests an electronic signature. I cannot create a form or file in which to upload to eg. DocuSign from the website.
Thank you for explaining it in so detail, I want to adapt e-signature for my new start-up. It would have been really helpful if their were more list of software that provide free e-signature.
Very realistic content.
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With signatures being so central to how business is conducted, it only makes sense that e-signatures have become the basis for this new expression of human activity. An electronic signature is a type of digital marker that formally captures the intent of the signer to accept the terms and conditions of the contract or deal they are agreeing to.
This is great!!
First of all thank you for taking the time and writing an in depth guide about e-signatures!
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Great analysis, I love how you really went in-depth with everything it really projects what one needs to know about guide to electronic signatures. You have done an excellent job with this content I must say.
We are looking for a solution that will integrate into our existing software, will be legally binding, and is done in real time without accounts set up ahead of time. It does not work for us to send an email with the document (or a link) for the person to sign.
Potentially we would be able to capture an actual signature on a mobile device (phone) be able to store and tie that to the collection of data that they are signing for (or to a electronic document), and that this would be legally binding. We do need to have multiple people be able to sign the same form in this way in the same time frame.
If you are aware of any products out there that would meet or approach these needs, or if there are alternative approaches we may not have through of, we would greatly appreciate the suggestions!
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I love the post!
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The company i work with uses Docusign and digital signatures have been an industry changer, business processes are much faster, less errors are made and we are using much less paper. I would totally advise anyone in any kind of business to adopt Digital signatures especially Docu-sign. I can only vouch for Docu-sign because it is the only software I've tried.. If you're in the UAE like me digital Signatures may be a bit hard to find so I'll leave a link to where your company might be able to get some.
First of all thank you for taking the time and writing an in depth guide about e-signatures! I personally thought that nobody would have taken the time and effort.
I own a construction company since 2008 and as an old timer in the business I know how hard to finalize a deal using paper documents. As the paperless business become more and more popular over the years, the business for me got better and more efficient. But we were still having some trouble when it comes to the signature part of a contract even though we could send the documents online.
As the digital signatures & e-signatures become popular, as you mentioned in the beginning of the guide, we saved huge amounts of time, no more driving for hours to a client just for a wet signature. I really liked that you gave some examples of different options for rookies of e-sign can compare. Thanks again for this informative piece of work and I strongly suggest the transition to electronic signature for an enhanced efficiency. Not to mention you are saving the planet!