Now without leaving Word, you can send your document quickly to a list of prospects or internal team members. But that’s not all! You can also see if your recipient received your document with status updates letting you know if they’ve signed or not.
How to create an electronic signature
E-signatures solve this challenge, but only a third of companies currently take advantage of e-signature capabilities. Instead, they expect clients and coworkers to take on the time-consuming process of printing and scanning documents in order to sign them.
Maybe they’re concerned about learning a new technology. Possibly they just haven’t gotten around to it yet. Either way, they’re losing out on a valuable opportunity to make document signing efficient, digital, and secure.
The reality is, e-signing digital documents is easier and far faster than printing, signing, scanning, copying, and sending paper documents. It’s also more secure. Electronic signatures are an excellent way to make business processes more efficient and set yourself apart from the competition. They can add security, convenience, and other benefits to the workday and your organization as a whole, especially when they’re part of a cloud content management (CCM) system.
Are electronic signatures secure?
In many cases, e-signatures are even more secure than paper signatures. Digital signatures have end-to-end encryption and can be bound with tamper-evident controls. They’re appropriate for even the strictest of authentication requirements and are legally authorized to replace handwritten signatures in virtually any business or personal application. In addition, a verified, secure e-signature provider should offer bank-level security to protect data throughout its lifecycle.
These standards include some of the strictest in the industry and allow e-signatures to be used in tightly regulated sectors like finance and healthcare. A trusted electronic signature service should employ enterprise-grade data centers with 24/7 monitoring and regular updates. These facilities will continuously monitor servers with teams of data security experts on hand. Their whole business is security, so these companies usually offer protection superior to an in-house team. Plus, without physical documents, there’s less room for theft, defacing, or unauthorized access.
Similarly, high-end technical standards and controls, such as AES 256-bit encryption and SAS 70 Type II certification, are essential. You can add even greater security to a document through two-factor authentication (2FA). This process requires the signer to confirm their identity before signing a document. Box, for example, verifies identity via text messages or passwords provided by the sender. The signer can’t access the document until they complete this process.
Audits should be valuable for internal dealings and problem-solving, as well as showing proof of compliance for regulatory agencies. Should someone investigate your company, audit logs provide comprehensive proof of all activity related to that document.
Digital certificates are another way to support document integrity. They add tamper-evident seals to the file. These show up as a green checkmark in supported PDF readers and are issued by trust service providers (TSPs). They authenticate both parties’ identities and bind the proof to the document.
These certificates, AKA public key certificates, use cryptography to ensure a more reliable encryption method. Essentially, digital certificates constitute a carefully guarded assurance that the sender is who they say they are. The sender’s identity is confirmed by a trusted certificate authority and linked up to the key that gets sent within the document’s metadata. This chain of trust is very hard to break.
With these kinds of protection measures, you get peace of mind knowing the sensitive data of your company and your clients is well-protected. From patient forms and sales records to top-secret military proceedings, e-signatures offer extensive security without sacrificing convenience.
Tips for writing and using your signature
You may use your signature in a variety of circumstances, and there are some ways you can both improve the look of your signature and find additional uses for it. Below is a list of tips regarding the use and development of your signature:
Seek inspiration from others
Like many creative endeavours, it can be a good idea to search for famous or distinctive signatures. Authors, famous politicians and celebrities often have distinctive and well-known signatures, and looking through some of these can inspire you. You may find that a particular author’s signature is a unique arrangement of their initials with no words actually spelt out, or that a famous leader’s signature may centre around a single letter, and that the rest is virtually illegible. Think about what these signatures say about them and consider this when thinking about what you want your signature to convey.
Learn some calligraphy
Calligraphy is the art of handwriting, and learning even some basics can help you design a much nicer signature with a distinctive look. You might only need to take a class or two, or you might find that it’s helpful to keep learning. It may even turn into a new hobby. If you value your signature and what it does for your personal brand, the time invested in calligraphy classes may be worth it, in addition to being quite enjoyable.
Use it for digital documents
Some contracts and documents may request an electronic signature online. Certain file types, like PDFs, can include a version of your signature in digital form. Typically, taking a photograph of your written signature and uploading it to the software and using software applications to transfer your information. You can also use an electronic signature as a digital ‘stamp’ for signing documents. In many cases, this is legally binding in the same way that a physical signature is. You can also use this digital signature for cover letters, CVs and even at the bottom of emails.
Update your signature
You can also change or update your signature if you’re dissatisfied with the current version. You might have changed your mind or had an idea that you want to implement. Typically, there’s no reason to hesitate, as a signature is an important and personal thing. Consider checking with your bank and any other services that rely on your signature to make sure that there are no issues with your new one.
What can other platforms offer that Word can’t?
There are many other examples of software that are dedicated to creating, sending and signing business documents digitally, such as PandaDoc and DocuSign. These services offer a much broader range of useful features, generally making it straightforward to create signature fields and eSignatures.
PandaDoc, for example, provides users with a vast database of templates tailored to a wide range of business use cases, such as different types of quotes and proposals, as well as internal functions like human resources or legal documents, to speed up the creation of high-quality, professional documents.
Adding an eSignature is painless on these dedicated platforms, with intuitive interfaces and one-click addition often supported. Once signed, the documents can be sent to a list of recipients quickly and easily, directly through the software itself, and a secure signing certificate may be created.
Once sent, documents are tracked when using platforms like PandaDoc. Viewer metrics like how long is spent on each page, the time it took to sign, and more are gathered and presented to the sender automatically. This information dictates what works and what doesn’t, allowing companies to fine-tune their sales documents and improve their effectiveness over time.
How to add an eSignature to a Word document using PandaDoc
5. The sender’s copy of the document is automatically updated as signatures are added. Document activity can be tracked conveniently, and follow-ups sent accordingly. PandaDoc even creates a digital certificate that shows sign date and the digital ID ensuring the document’s legitimacy.
A better way to eSign your business and sales documents
There now exists a massive array of software that is more dedicated to creating electronic signatures and adding them to documents. Alternatives to Word like PandaDoc and DocuSign not only make eSigning incredibly simple, but they come with a wide range of other tools that can enhance your ability to create, send, sign and track a large number of important business documents with ease.
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