Knowing and understanding how to quickly and accurately insert a signature in Word documents can enhance your documents and make them more personable. It’s totally possible to insert a handwritten signature into any word document. Providing your document with sort of a personal touch as it’s sent or used, not to mention also giving it a more professional demeanor.
Here are some reasons to use a Microsoft Office signature line:
- You could use a Word document as a contract or other legal record.
- Signing your Word documents can lock them so they cannot be edited.
- Your signature block can personalize your document.
With that in mind, let's look at how to add a signature line in Word.
What is a digital signature?
First things first, what actually is a digital signature? Essentially, a digital signature is an electronic signature that has been created solely online and not in a printed version of a document. Sometimes, an electronic signature is one that is mathematically created to validate your authenticity.
Basically, the signature is encrypted to your personal Word account, and it verifies that the document is yours and yours only. It hasn’t been changed or modified by anyone else. In a world where work can be done from anywhere, being able to confidently insert an authenticated signature into a document is vital.
Signing certificate and Certificate Authority
Before one can fully understand what a signing certificate is, the asymmetric keys should be understood. In layman's terms, asymmetric keys are used to encrypt the signature. It’s an algorithm whose primary goal is to make sure that the signature and any documents it’s found on are kept both private and secure as it travels through the web.
There are two different keys that MS Office users will need to get before ensuring that their signatures are encrypted and secure. These are called the private key and the public key. It’s sort of self-explanatory what each of these keys does. The private key is the user's personal key, so no one else should know this key. When an MS Office document is created, the creator will sign it with their private key. It will then be sent out, and that’s where the public key comes in. When the document is sent to another person, they’ll be able to verify it with the public key.
Before authenticating a signature, users will need to validate their private keys and receive their public keys. In order to do that, a digital signature can be purchased and issued through a Certificate Authority. These trusted third-party entities are available on the web. A simple google search should lead you to a trusted and authentic Certificate Authority,
Creating your own digital certificate also isn’t that difficult. In this case, though, the signature can not officially be verified or authenticated. Therefore, it’s vital that you know and trust this self-signed document.
What does a digital signature guarantee?
Signing with a digital signature guarantees that the Microsoft Word document or other MS Office documents are authentic and overall proof of identity. It can be guaranteed that both the sender and receiver have processed the information, and this can not be denied or changed in the future.
Documents are notarized. As long as the signature has not been tampered with, is valid, and the certificate has not expired, then the document is considered to be notarized. Through the Certificate Authority process, the signer has already provided the required documents to back up their identities, allowing for electronic notarization to confirm the identity.
Signature lines in Word and Excel
Now, let’s get down to the actual business of inserting signature lines in MS Office programs. First off, what exactly is a signature line? In essence, it’s the same idea of a signature line that has been seen in printed documents for centuries. The difference, though, is that the author sets specific instructions of the signature they expect to receive from the intended signer. There are a few different options that the author can request;
1. Type the signature
2. Add a signature image file
3. Sign through a touch screen feature
Each of these options depends solely on what the author and signer are most comfortable with. None of the three are less or more encrypted and should all be backed by a reputable certificate authority in order to guarantee total authentication and notarization.
Create a signature line in Word or Excel
Alright, now let’s get down to business. How the heck do I actually create the signature line? This part is actually much simpler than one might think, thanks to the signature setup box. After purchasing everything needed to authenticate and legalize the signature process, follow these steps:
Decide where you would like to create a signature line. It can be anywhere in an MS Word document or MS Excel sheet. The author decides, so move your cursor to the designated signature spot!
Find the Insert tab located within your document (this can be found at the top of the page next to file, edit, etc.).
After clicking the Insert tab, find text in the drop-down menu. In the text group there, click Signature Line.
In the list of Signature Line, there may or may not be a variety of different options. In this case, you’re going to want to go with Microsoft Office Signature Line.
The signature setup dialog box will then appear on the screen. This is where the author fills out the specifics of how they would like to set up their signature. At this point, things get super simple and are pretty easy to follow.
Suggested signer: This is where the full name of the intended signer should go.
Suggested signer’s title: Also, relatively simple, if the signer has a title, i.e. manager, doctor, etc.
Suggested signer’s email address: Totally optional, but if the email address of the signer is needed, add it here.
Instructions to the signer: Here is the excellent part, you can write detailed instructions for the signer. These instructions will help not only walk the signer through but will also protect you in the future.
At the bottom of the signature, there is a setup dialog box that has two checkboxes.
Checkbox 1: Allow the signer to add comments in the sign dialog
This is totally up to the author and ultimately depends on the purpose of the document. In some cases, signers may want to add a little blurb about their purpose of signing or something to that extent.
Checkbox 2: Show sign date and signature line
This one might be overall pretty important to add to any document. Expert advice, always check this one. This just ensures that the date the document was signed will appear directly with the signature line.
In the case that one may need additional signature lines, just repeat the above instructions and add a signature line and follow the same process until you are satisfied with the signature line list.
Sign the signature line in Word or Excel
Now, let’s move on to the opposite side of the electronic signatures process. In order to officially sign documents, you must follow these steps.
Remember: When you digitally sign documents, you’re providing a valid digital certificate and authenticating the Microsoft word or excel document.
Once the document has been opened, find and select the signature line, and right-click. If the author has sent the document in protected view (which just means that the document cannot be edited by anyone else), click edit anyway.
From the drop-down menu, click sign and sign the documents by typing your name in the dialogue box.
Depending on the author's instructions, a scanned signature or handwritten signature may have been requested.
Scanned signature: In order to upload an image of your written signature simply choose, and select image. A Select Signature Image dialogue box will appear on the screen, and you can select the image file directly from there. The image will automatically be uploaded.
Handwritten signature: Using the touchscreen on your TabletPC, simply sign your name in the box! That’s it, you’re finished, and the documents have been signed.
Remember: Always click save throughout the signing process.
Remove digital signatures from Word or Excel
Removing digital signatures from Word or Excel is just as simple as adding them.
Open the document, right-click the signature line, click remove the signature, then click yes.
Invisible digital signatures in Word, Excel, or PowerPoint
Invisible digital signatures are just an added option to add more privacy to the document. These invisible signatures will assure authors of; authenticity, integrity, and document originality.
Add invisible digital signatures in Word, Excel, or PowerPoint
Adding the invisible digital signature is a bit different than the regular signatures. Follow these steps in order to guarantee the successful integration of an invisible digital signature into your document.
Click the File tab → Click info → Click Protect Document, Protect Workbook, Protect Presentation → Click Add Digital Signature → Click OK → Type the purpose for signing in the sign dialog box → Click Sign
Adding an invisible signature to a document will automatically authenticate the document as being the sole property of the author. If this is the case, the document will then become read-only, and modifications cannot be made.
Remove invisible digital signatures from Word, Excel, or PowerPoint
In order to remove the invisible digital signature, follow these steps:
Open the document → Click File → Click Info → Click View Signatures → The signature pane will appear → Next to the signature name, click the arrow → Click Remove Signature → Click Yes
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