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Blog Post Jun 22, 2021

How to Digitally Sign a Word Document

Electronically signing a document authenticates the signer, so all recipients can verify that the contents have not been modified since it was signed. When you go to add a digital signature to a Word document, or any document for that matter, it’s essential to follow the correct steps. Below, we go over how a digital signature works and the process to e-sign a Microsoft Word document.

How A Digital Signature In Microsoft Word Works

Unlike handwritten signatures, digital signatures enable secure electronic document exchange and workflows, ensure document integrity and authorship, and satisfy electronic document compliance requirements.

This type of electronic signature, or e-signature, is an encrypted stamp of authentication applied to digital information such as e-mail messages, macros, or electronic documents. Thus, when you sign a Word document digitally, you are confirming that the information in the document originated from the signer and has not been altered. This gives users confidence that the signed documents originate from the recognized source and have not been forged or tampered with.

Digital signatures can be applied to a variety of document types including Adobe PDF files, PNGs, image files, JPGs, and Word Documents.

To create a digital signature you have to have a signing certificate, which proves identity. (For documents in particular, you will need a document signing certificate.) When you send a digitally-signed file, you also send your certificate and public key. Digital certificates are issued by a certification authority (CA), like Sectigo.

How To Electronically Sign A Word Document

Using signature fields in Microsoft Office files makes it possible for organizations to reduce risk when using electronic transactions and streamlining paper processes for contracts or other agreements. Digital signatures provide a record of exactly what was signed and can be verified in the future.

Signed documents have a Signatures button at the bottom. In addition, for signed documents, signature information appears in the Info section that can be viewed by clicking the File tab in Word.

To add a signature line, follow these steps:

  • In Microsoft Word or Excel, open the document that you want to sign.
  • In the word document or worksheet, place your cursor (pointer) where you want the signature line to appear.
  • Click Insert.
  • On the Insert tab, in the Text section, click Signature Line > Microsoft Office Signature Line in the drop-down menu.

There are two different signature setup methods, depending on the intended use.

Method 1: Adding An Invisible Digital Signature

You can add an invisible digital signature to a Word document, Excel workbook, or PowerPoint presentation. This does not appear in the document, but instead, a small signature icon appears at the bottom of the window to signify that it was signed. Recipients can click the icon to view information about the signer.

Method 2: Adding A Visible Digital Signature

You can also add a visible digital signature to a Word file or Excel workbook. This signature appears in the document along with a small signature icon at the bottom of the window to signify that the document was signed. Recipients can double-click the signature or click the icon to see information about the signer.

How Ao Add a Digital Signature In Microsoft Windows Using A Document Signing Certificate

To digitally sign a document using a Document Signing Certificate in the Microsoft Windows environment, follow these steps:

  1. Open the document that needs to be signed.
  2. Plug the USB smart card token with the certificate into the USB port of your computer. Microsoft will automatically copy the certificate to your computer’s cryptographic API (CAPI) certificate store.
  3. Click More Tools on the Tools pane. The Create & Edit page will appear.
  4. Select Certificates.
  5. On the Certificates toolbar, Select Digitally Sign. The Signature Area Selection dialog box will appear.
  6. Click OK in the Signature Area Selection dialog box.
  7. Using your mouse, click and drag to draw the area where you would like the signature to appear. The Sign with a Digital ID dialog box will appear.
  8. Click Continue. The Sign as <Your name> dialog box will appear.
  9. Click Sign. The Windows Explorer dialog box will open.
  10. Select the folder where to save the signed document.
  11. Type the document name.
  12. Click Save. You will be prompted to enter your PIN.
  13. Enter your PIN and click OK. Your signature will appear in the document.

Explore Sectigo’s Document Signing Certificate options for more information.