The Microsoft Word digital signature feature is an excellent tool to use when you want to certify your digital document. It's an alternative to a physical paper signature and an electronic signature (or e-signature). An e-signature differs from a digital signature in a critical way.
Digital signatures are typically preferred because they can offer a lot more security than their paper and electronic counterparts.
Today we'll be discussing how to insert a digital signature into Microsoft Word quickly and efficiently. But first, let's define a few key terms and ideas.
What’s a Digital Signature?
A digital signature is an encrypted code that certifies that a certain document was created by a particular individual. This algorithmic code is used to prove authenticity and identity, and it makes remote verification reliable.
Microsoft Word has a built-in digital signature feature that can be used to protect the integrity of your documents and to bind agreements with a third-party certification authority.
1. What's the Difference Between a Digital Signature & an E-Signature?
A digital signature is an algorithmic code that certifies that a certain document was created by a particular individual. An electronic signature is a general term. It includes much less sophisticated authentication methods that can take many different forms.
In Microsoft Word, an electronic signature could be a digital rendering of a handwritten signature inserted into a document or a typed confirmation of identity. Both types of electronic signatures are detailed further below.
While a digital signature can look like or even be integrated with a basic e-signature, the algorithmic code is what makes the digital signature uniquely reliable. Digital signatures are mediated by certificate authority (CA) technology. This allows for remote verification and added security through third-party authentication.
2. What’s a Certificate Authority?
A Certificate Authority is an official company or entity that issues digital certificates to users. A digital signature is a mathematical code that’s attached to a certificate.
The Certificate Authority is the middleman that works hard to ensure the integrity of the digital signatures between users, clients, coworkers, remote workers, or government institutions. They’re responsible for ensuring that the certificate is issued by and to the correct parties.
3. Why Are Digital Signatures Important?
A digital signature adds an extra layer of authentication to documents, improving reliability between the parties to them. It helps to ensure that no part of the document can be tampered with outside the purview of the document’s main admin.
While there are many reasons to insert a digital signature into a Word document, the common use of digital signatures is to verify that the sender of a document is who they say they are. This can significantly speed up the authentication and processing of important documents like contracts or official letters.
With an electronic signature, the document may have to be scanned or even notarized and then sent through snail mail, adding time and a physical element that can be burdensome. Digital signatures are a quick and relatively easy way to certify and verify Microsoft Word documents online.
4. Microsoft Word Insert Signature & Digital Signature Use Cases
The Microsoft Word insert signature feature can be used in a few different ways by individuals and organizations, such as:
- an alternative to a physical signature when signing documents
- an indicator of authenticity and identification
- a third-party authentication security layer
- a means to avoid legal issues
- an easy and quick way to sign documents
Digital signatures can be applied in Microsoft Word to contracts, invoices, letters, reports, and much more. You can create and encrypt a digital signature and then integrate the digital signature directly into the document.
How to Add a Digital Signature in Microsoft Word
Unlike an e-signature, a digital signature requires a digital ID from a third party. This typically costs extra money (beyond the cost of your existing Microsoft Office subscription). Additionally, digital IDs tend to expire after a year or so if you don’t renew them.
The exact cost and duration of your digital ID depends on which certificate authority you get your digital ID from. Examples of current leaders in certified Microsoft file authentication include (but aren’t limited to) GlobalSign and IdenTrust.
Here’s how you insert a digital signature in Word, from the beginning:
Step 1. Click on the File tab of your Word document.
Step 2. Click into the Info section from the side panel.
Step 3. Click on the Protect Document button, then select Add a Digital Signature from the drop-down menu.
Step 4. Follow the prompt to get a digital ID from a trusted Microsoft Partner.
Or you may follow these simple steps:
- Click on the Insert tab of your Word document.
- In the Text section, click on the signature drop-down icon then select the Add Signature Services option. This should open a Microsoft web page that includes instructions on how to proceed, along with links to Microsoft Partners that are certified to issue digital IDs.
Once you’ve linked your document with your new digital ID, type your information into the ‘Purpose for signing this document’ field of the Sign dialog box. A read-only Signatures button should then appear at the bottom of your Word document. This is assigned a private key (for you) and a public key (for you and others).
How to Add Electronic Signatures in Microsoft Word
As indicated above, there are several ways to sign a Word document electronically. Besides a digital signature (the most secure method of signing), you can insert a signature line and a scanned or digitally rendered image of a handwritten signature.
1. Microsoft Word Insert Signature Line
Here's how to add a signature line into Microsoft Word:
Step 1. Move your cursor to where you want the signature line in your Word document.
Step 2. Click on the Insert tab.
Step 3. Make sure no text or images in the body of your Word document are selected. Then, in the Text section, click on the signature drop-down menu then select the Microsoft Office Signature Line option. Or you can just click the signature icon itself, which should lead to the same place as the drop-down menu item.
Step 4: Populate the Signature Setup dialog box with your information, select your desired settings, and click OK.
This inserts a signature line along with whatever text you entered in the dialog box at the last location of your cursor. The signature line can be relocated or removed using standard cut, copy, and paste functions in Word.
2. Microsoft Word Handwritten Signature
You can add a handwritten signature to Word as well. Here's how:
Step 1. Write your signature by hand either on a piece of paper or a digital device with on-screen penmanship enabled (like a tablet or something similar).
Step 2. Crop the image to a reasonable size (after scanning it, if written on paper). Save it to a file like .jpg or .png (check Microsoft Word’s list of currently acceptable file formats for image insertion).
Step 3. In your Word document, move your cursor to where you want your handwritten signature image inserted.
Step 4. Click on the Insert tab.
Step 5. From the Illustrations section, click on the Pictures drop-down menu.
Step 6. From the Insert Picture From the drop-down menu, choose This Device.
Step 7. Navigate to your handwritten signature image file on your computer, then select it and click Insert.
This inserts the image where you last left your cursor. You can then cut, copy, and paste it as you please.
How to Remove a Signature From Microsoft Word
If you want to remove an electronic signature line or image from your Word document, simply click on the signature and hit delete or backspace. Or use the Cut command from the right-click menu.
If you want to remove an encrypted digital signature, follow these steps:
Step 1. Click on the File tab of your Word document.
Step 2. Click into the Info section from the side panel.
Step 3. Click on View Signatures.
Step 4. Click on the arrow next to the name of your digital signature.
Step 5. Click on Remove Signature, then click Yes.
How to Make Your Documents Look Official
The Microsoft Word digital signature feature offers many options for adding a signature to your documents. But that alone doesn't always make your Word document look official. Stylistic choices can make a big difference, for better or for worse. If you add the reliability of a digital signature to a document that looks professional and official, you can increase your chances of standing out, appearing confident, and inspiring trust.
If you're looking for ways to make your documents look more official, stock Word templates are a great place to start — especially when time is scarce. Microsoft Word templates come in the form of everything from blank business proposals to annual reports. They're professionally formatted and edited, so they can be modified to suit your purposes.
The Benefits of Word Templates
Not only can Microsoft Word templates help you save time, but they also look amazing if you find the right ones. Granted, not all stock template websites offer standout quality. But when it comes to Microsoft templates, sites like Envato Elements are the best places to go.
When you use a Word template that's been designed for a specific purpose, such as an executive proposal or annual report, it should be created with a specific audience in mind. Stock templates are often designed for business professionals and executives, and they do very well with them. If you're looking for a way to make your documents stand out, you should consider a stock Microsoft Word template.
How to Use a Microsoft Template Effectively
Microsoft templates can help you make the most of Word's design features. You can use them as a jumping-off point when you want to create a new document from scratch, or you can use them to change a document you've already started. With a high-quality template, you can easily change its design elements, such as fonts and color schemes, so that it meets your branding and style requirements.
Envato Elements is one of the best places for high-quality stock Word templates. Their collection is full of professionally designed documents that are perfect for any type of business or campaign. Many of these templates allow you to insert a signature in Word, whether it’s a secure digital signature or just a basic e-signature.
These include many different professional and impressive resume layouts. You can insert digital signatures in Microsoft Word templates to confirm with your document's recipient that you are who you say you are. This recipient could be a future employer, client, customer, or government entity, among countless other possibilities.
Add Digital Signatures to Microsoft Word Now
When you're working in Microsoft Word, there are features available that can improve your workflow and overall quality of work. Having the capability to add a digital signature in Word opens the door to a lot of possibilities when it comes to sending and receiving official documents. And Microsoft Word templates can elevate your document quality even more.