How to Electronically Sign a Form

By Gigi Starr
How to Electronically Sign a Form

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In this day and age of Internet business and communication, it's vital to have a method to verify signatures without an actual pen-written name. There are now several legally-binding methods that act in the same capacity as a handwritten signature. While some of these are simple and require little more than a keyboard, others need specialized software to execute. By using these virtual signatures, it's possible to be half a world away and still take care of affairs.

Type your initials. On some documents, the contract creator may include a small box on the form with a requirement to verify by entering initials. Sometimes, they'll also ask for the date or date of birth. This type of signature is common on some electronic government forms.

Enter a one-of-a-kind PIN number to confirm identity. Forms like the Free Application for Federal Student Aid require the PIN as a signature before they'll process any electronic applications. If you don't have a PIN, the website has a process to obtain one through e-mail.

Use a graphics program to craft a JPEG representation of your signature. This can then be layered into a PDF or Word document over the signature line. Useful programs for this include GIMP or Photoshop. To do this, create a small canvas with a white background. Using the pen tool and pointing device or touchpad, write your signature as legibly as possible, then save as a JPEG file. When it's time to use it, import the JPEG as a picture and layer it on top of the proper line in the document.

Utilize a program that inserts signatures into a document. One program, CoSign, works with many popular document programs as a plug-in that imports and pastes signatures from a central database. These programs may be available on a monthly basis, or as a volume license for larger businesses.

Use the U.S. Postal Service's Electronic Postmark. Used in conjunction with Microsoft Word, Electronic Postmark "is a Web-based security system that includes time stamps and content authentication technology, as well as aspects of non-repudiation." It can also use digital signature certificates that are available through a digital certification authority like VeriSign or the Microsoft SelfCert.exe tool.

About the Author

Gigi Starr is a freelance fashion writer. She previously served as the blog editor for a major online fashion blog and has more than a decade of backstage experience in the beauty and high fashion industries. She has worked for businesses like an internationally renowned theatrical touring company and events such as the Mercedes-Benz N.Y.C. Fashion Week.

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