3 Methods of Creating an E-Signature

3 Methods of Creating an E-Signature

Despite being the invention we measure all other inventions by, jeweler Otto Frederick Rohwedder invented sliced bread less than a century ago. It took over 8,000 years of eating bread before it became the sliced staple we eat today.

Bread is so old that it predates writing. Sumerians invented the first seal—a precursor to the written signature—in 3500 BCE. Like bread, signatures are still evolving. Sliced loaves are the standard way to buy and sell bread today, but e-signatures are becoming the new standard way to transmit signatures in today’s tech-enabled business climate.

Using and creating e-signatures used to be a novelty, but as we do more and more work remotely, businesses are storing documents digitally, and online shopping is catching up with brick-and-mortar retail, e-signatures are an essential part of business today.

There are several ways to create an e-signature, and which method you use will depend on the use-cases and technology you can access.

Key Takeaways:

  • E-signatures are digital versions of a physical signature
  • There are several different methods of creating e-signatures depending on your unique needs
  • FileCenter helps companies manage their digital files

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Why E-Signatures?

A physical signature (also called a “wet signature” because it uses “wet” ink and paper) has been the standard way to sign documents for decades. Covid 19 uprooted this standard practice when it made face-to-face contact impossible.

An e-signature is a digital equivalent of a wet signature. Beyond health concerns, e-signatures have grown in popularity because of their convenience and flexibility—users can send and receive e-signatures from anywhere in the world, digital devices never run out of ink, and they don’t lose definition over time.

Some kinds of documents (such as notarized forms and mortgage contracts) require a wet signature, but many other kinds of documents (such as receipts and most other contracts) can use the digital e-signature in a wet signature’s place.

E-Signature vs. Digital Signature

While the term “digital signature” sounds like it would describe the same thing as an e-signature, it refers to a distinctly different concept.

Cybersecurity experts describe digital signatures as a “virtual fingerprint.” This virtual fingerprint isn’t a picture of your fingertip or a biometric data record but rather a mathematical formula that uses encrypted data to verify the identities involved in digital interactions.

While an e-signature is a digital version of a physical signature, a digital signature is an algorithm to verify users’ identities cryptographically. These similarly-named signatures are neither interchangeable nor mutually exclusive: a signed digital receipt might include both an e-signature and a digital signature, or it might only require a digital signature—a way of verifying that you are the one who made the purchase.

Despite their similar names, a digital signature describes a method of encrypting digital information, while an e-signature describes a digital equivalent to a physical signature
Image Source: https://aboutssl.org/digital-signature-vs-electronic-signature/

Method 1: Print and Scan

The first method of e-signing a document is the least efficient but requires the least technological experience and tools. All you need is a pen, paper, and a printer that can scan documents.

  • Print your document. This method doesn’t require any digital manipulation or special tools, so you will simply print the document so you can sign the physical paper.
  • Sign the document with pen or pencil.
  • Scan the document back into the computer. Now you have a digital version of the document that includes your signature.

The benefit of this method is that it requires very few tools and no setup. The downsides of this method are that the document loses definition due to being printed and scanned, the e-signature is not re-useable, and it converts digital text into a static image (so you couldn’t edit a PDF contract without using OCR technology to make it editable again, and that it requires extra steps to rename and file your scanned document.)

Because of these downsides, this method is best suited to situations where users have limited access to software (for example, a hotel business center) and in isolated instances where repeated signatures aren’t necessary.

Method 2: Sign and Scan

The second method is valuable because it produces a consistent result and can be easily automated.

  • Sign a blank piece of paper.
  • Scan the signed paper to create a digital version of your signature.
  • Add the scanned e-signature to any document you need to sign.

This method inserts a scanned image of your signature into documents, so as long as you use the same image, your signature will be exactly the same every time. In FileCenter, signing documents this way is as easy as clicking the Sign Documents button to stamp your saved signature on any document you open.

Press the Sign Document button to add your e-signature to any document in FileCenter

To make the signature even more useful, you can give it a transparent background. This makes it so that the signature doesn’t block parts of the document, like the signature line.

Method 3: Digital Writing

If you’ve been to a café or received a certified package recently, you are most likely familiar with this method. Rather than signing a physical paper and converting your wet signature into an e-signature, this method allows you to create an e-signature directly on the digital file.

The benefit of this method is that it doesn’t require any physical tools. The entire process takes place within the document you’re signing.

  • Open the document you want to sign
  • Write your signature digitally directly onto the document itself.
  • Save your document.

In FileCenter, simply select the pencil tool to draw directly on your document. This method is most suitable when using a tablet or other touch-screen device, as signing accurately with a mouse and keyboard is difficult.

The downside of this method is that it requires re-signing every time so that signatures will be less consistent than with other methods, but the upside is that you can do this on any device without any additional software, making it the most flexible method out of the three.

How FileCenter can Help

While sliced bread hasn’t changed much in recent years, the way businesses create and store documents changes every day. Keeping up with these changes requires businesses to use the best tools.

One of those tools is FileCenter, a document management software that empowers users to edit PDFs, automate document management, scan receipts, and much more. Creating and using e-signatures is easy with FileCenter’s features like Sign Document and the Pencil tool. 

If you’re ready to transform your document management, learn how FileCenter can help today.