You may have heard the phrase “e-signature”, but do you know what it means? An e-signature, also known as “e-siggy” for short, is an Electronic Signature used when working with electronic messaging services, such as e-mail. It takes the place of a physical signature and is most commonly used on programs such as Outlook and Thunderbird when sending emails, as well as within documents such as contracts sent electronically.
That’s all pretty self-explanatory but why do we use them? Well, for one they allow others to accredit messages back to the sender, and they also stand in the place of a real signature, so if you are signing a contract that is only in an e-format, you can form an electronic signature that means the same as if you had printed the document, signed it with a pen and sent it back via post.
Please note an electronic signature is different to a digital signature – this is where an electronic “fingerprint” is created that is unique to both document and signer, and binds them together. An E-signature is either a digitized image of a handwritten signature, inserted as an image, or as basic as a written name.
Using an e-signature can be a great marketing tool, especially in emails. You can do a lot with an email signature to promote your company, such as the inclusion of your company logo as a clickable link to your website, prominently display your telephone number(s) and also include links and logos to your social accounts, so people can visit you and follow you directly upon receipt of your email.
You can also choose to have your e-signature sent only on original emails (so not repeated within an email trail), or on every email you send, including replies. This is largely dependent on personal preference, and factors such as the size of your signature and the information within it should be taken into account.
Enforcing the use of digital documentation and e-signatures is one way of ensuring you and your company “go green”. Reducing the need for printed documents helps to save the amount of paper we use and destroy, as well as cutting operational costs and automating business processes, something that can also speed things up.
If you are using an e-signature within a program such as Outlook, you can edit it within the program interface. You will need to refer to your email provider for an in-depth tutorial on how to do this if you are not sure.
If you are using an e-signature within a document format such as Word, again you will be able to edit within the interface, especially if you are using a digitized image of your own handwritten signature. If your signature changes for any reason, you will need to update and replace the original with your new signature.
If you have an e-signature within a document that you cannot easily edit, such as a PDF, you will need to either edit the original source file (if you have it), or recreate the file in full to edit the part(s) required. Alternatively, you can use a PDF editing program to edit your e-signature, either as an image or a piece of text within the document.