Adding Your Digital Signiature to Docs

This how-to will walk you through the creation of a digital signature file. Useful for signing documents on the fly and emailing them back and forth, which saves on postage and lessens paper usage.


Step 1: Make Your Mark

You need to start with your signature on a sheet of paper. In the hopes of not being blatantly thiefed of my identity, I have elected to use John Adams as an example.

Step 2: Scan the Sig

You need some way to get this signature into the computer, an optical scanner is probably your best bet, but in dire circumstances, you could use a digital camera.

Step 3: Import the Scan to Somewhere Useful

I prefer to use MS Paint on a Windows machine, but its up to you. On a Mac, I've always scanned in Photoshop, but again, your choice.

For a more free flavor, once you have the scanned image, all the following steps can be done in Graphic Converter, a free program for OS X (and legacy systems, too).

Step 4: Save It in a Useful Format

Once your signature file is in the correct orientation, save it.

I find that the .PNG format is the most useful for signature files, but I am by no means an expert.

Step 5: Insert It Into the Document

You need a document that requires your signature, I suppose.

I most commonly am using Word, but there are plenty of other programs that can insert images.

Step 6: Protect Yourself

I suggest outputting only in a PDF format due to your signature being quite easily "re-appropriated" otherwise.

On OS X, just choose print and int he PDF pulldown menu, choose save as PDF.

On XP or similar, you'll need a PDF creation tool (try googling "XP PDF Creator" for some free ones, like that pictured). Rumor has it some versions of Word come with this as well.



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    7 Discussions


    12 years ago on Introduction

    Very good instructable. However, it seems getting a digital signature off of a .pdf file is just as easy as getting it off of a MS Word document. All you have to do is click on the "Select" tool, drag your mouse to select the signature, hover your cursor over the signature and choose "Copy to Clipboard." Maybe there's a way to secure it better - like those certain java-scripts on websites to prevent "mouse-copying" of data?


    12 years ago on Step 6

    Outputting PDF does nothing to protect your signature. At best it is security through obscurity which will only hurt you if you believe in it. The signature can easily be extracted from the PDF for example with a screen capturing software and then cleaned out in vector drawing program if a high resolution copy is needed.


    12 years ago

    Hi! Please consider changing the title to "Adding digitized signature to electronic documents." "Digital signature" is a term used in encryption to digitally verify the origin of a document. Thank you.


    12 years ago

    does this look familiar


    12 years ago

    Of course someone could just do a screen print.


    12 years ago

    Nice! I totally should have posted an Instructable about this, but didn't think to do so. I've kept a digitized signature on my machine for years for largely the same purpose, but particularly for sending faxes, so I could just add a signature to a document and fax it without printing it out.