Let’s be clear what we’re talking about right from the very start of this article. When we say ‘sign a Word document electronically’, we’re talking about adding a digital copy of your handwritten signature to a Word document.
What we’re not going to cover here is how to create a secure digital signature, which is an entirely different kettle of Haddock.
Everyone clear? Good. Let’s crack on. We’re going to cover two different options, one for laptop owners and one for those using a regular desktop PC.
Sign a Word document electronically on a laptop
If you’ve got a laptop, the easiest way to sign a Word document electronically is using the Draw tools.
Move the cursor to the place in the document where you’re required to add your signature. Now, in the menu at the top of the screen, select the Draw tab. Click on the black pen (or any colour of your choosing) and then flick on the switch next to Draw with trackpad.
When you do that, a window will appear on top of your document, inviting you to draw your signature with your finger. It’s surprisingly easy to do this, provided you’ve got a good-sized trackpad.
Once you’ve created your signature, press any key on the keyboard and the signature will be popped onto the page as a graphic. You can now click on it and drag it into the correct position. You can also click the handles on the side of the image to resize the signature, so that it fits neatly in the space provided:
Sign a Word document electronically without a laptop
If you don’t have a laptop, the first thing we need to do is create a digital version of your signature.
By far the easiest way to do this is with a smartphone or tablet drawing app. There are tons of these on the market and you don’t need to pay for one. An app such as Adobe Illustrator Draw – which is free to use on both iOS and Android – is perfect, as it has tons of different and convincing ink stroke effects.
If you have a stylus for your phone or tablet, the job is even easier, but you should be able to get a good approximation of your signature by dragging your finger across the screen. Here’s one I created with my finger alone, using my iPad:
When you’ve got a signature that you’re happy with, save it in the JPEG or PNG format and then send it to the computer you’ve got Word installed on.
The other option is to scribble your signature on a piece of paper and then scan it in, or at a push take a digital photo of it with your phone. I strongly suggest you user a thick felt-tip or marker pen to create the signature, as a regular Biro will look very spindly on your Word document.
Inserting your signature into a Word document
So, you’re writing your resignation letter (or whatever it is you want to append your signature to) and you’ve reached the “Yours sincerely” point of the letter. How do you insert your signature?
In Word, click on the Insert tab at the top of the page and select Pictures. It will open a window from which you have to navigate to the signature you created above.
The image may appear massive – or too small – when you drop it onto the page, so use the little circular handles in the corner of the image to drag it to the size you require. Don’t worry about the grey Alt Text box that appears at the bottom of the image.
Once you’ve got the size right, you might have the problem we’ve got in the image above – the off-white colour surrounding the signature.
Here you can use Word’s built-in image-editing tools to fix the problem. At the top of the screen click Format under Picture Tools. (If you can’t see Picture Tools, click the signature image to make sure it’s selected and it should appear.)
Now click Corrections in the top panel and select a Brightness and Contrast level that makes that background plain white while leaving your signature intact, like below.
Boom. One digital signature on a Word document.
Now read this: What’s the best way to convert Word to PDF?