Word: Create an Electronic Signature


Sometimes it would be nice to send a signature without having to print the completed document first, sign the document, scan it, and save again in order to send to the recipient.

The document I was working on actually consisted of multiple signatures that were required. So there were signature lines that ran down the left margin, as well as a series of signatures that ran down the halfway point of the page.

If you have a signature line with subsequent lines indicating your title and department, a graphic can put too much space between the information and make it look, well… like you actually didn’t sign it. Also, you will want the ability to place the signature in a specific location.

These directions are for Word 2007. However, all of these features are available in Word 97-2003.

Directions to creating a signature within Word:

  1. Scan your signature and save as a graphic file.  You may need to edit the graphic to select just the signature portion of the scan.  A really basic program that works great is Paint.  I know, too easy.
    • With the original scanned graphic in Word, point and click on the graphic to select it, Copy (Ctrl+C) the graphic, switch to Paint (Alt+Tab), and then Paste (Ctrl+V) the graphic into Paint.
    • Click outside the grahic onto the “white” background and drag the handles on the sides and /or corners of the “white” background to eliminate excess.
    • Don’t forget to save as a grahic file (jpg, tif).  When you do Save As, at the bottom, under where you type in the File name: is a drop down menu for Save as type:.
  2. With your cursor on the signature line (it could be a graphic line or a tabbed underline), from the Menu bar select Insert. Then select Insert Picture from File.  From here your directory will appear for you to select the signature graphic.
  3. Once you have selected your signature graphic, resize the graphic from the corner. If you resize from the top, bottom, or sides, it will expand or contract the image that is not a correct representation of your signature. If you resize from the corner it will maintain the aspect ratio and remain proportional to the authentic look of your signature.
  4. With your mouse over the graphic, right click and select Text Wrapping, scroll and select Behind Text.
  5. Select the graphic by left clicking on your mouse. While the graphic is selected, hold down the Ctrl key and pressing the up, down, left, and right arrow keys. This will position the graphic incrementally to where you want it. Or, you can merely hold down the left mouse button and drag the graphic to the location you want it go.

The graphic will literally go to any location you designate without interfering with or moving text around. Doing this permits the line to remain completely visible with any letters that would normally hang under it.

On a final note, I would like to suggest converting the document to .pdf or protecting the Word document as I explained earlier in Word: Restrict Formatting and Editing before sending it out. Otherwise your signature graphic is available to copy and save by anyone who receives the document in the original Word format.

Let me know how this works for you. Also, if you have any other suggestions that may be helpful, I welcome the creative insight. I did try keep the directions very simple. Sometimes, the more complicated, the more confusing.

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  1. Laura

    Great tip and it works pretty much the same for Office 2010, it’s just a little easier. Once you open the scanned document you can save it right to paint instead of copying and pasting. Once in paint just select it, crop it and save as graphic. Everything else works the same.

  2. Delia Barret

    I save my bosses’ signatures as “Quick Parts,” since I sign every letter electronically for them to email in PDF form. “Quick Parts” makes the signatures much more accessible than inserting a picture file.
    I then went further in making it a drop-down field in the letterhead template. Ditto for the signature blocks.

  3. Layne

    Good question Melinda. I would use the same discretion as the use of signature stamp (the actual physical stamp with ink pad), with permissions from the individuals. If you are unsure, request guidelines from your manager on what is appropriate and what is not. For business, and electronic signature may be the only means a manager is able to process day to day communication if he or she travels a lot. For personal, I prefer an actual signature. I physically sign my own checks and correspondence. Electronic signatures are generally used when an individual or a group of people are unable to be in attendance to sign, but have given express permission that they are to be included in the document.

    So to answer "legal," I would suggest an original signature.


  4. Rob Neilly

    Good, useful article. Thank you. Agree with what you said about protecting the document (whether in Word or Adobe). Another idea is to create a version of your signature that you do not use for signing anything legally, but can be used for closing salutations.


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