What is an e-Signature, anyway?

Your-Name-HereTech terminology seems to fly at us at the speed of the internet. Try as we might, keeping up-to-the-minute on new technologies and turns of phrase is nearly impossible (especially with so many cat videos that demand our attention). So today, and over the next few weeks, we’ll be diving into a few of those terms and the benefits they provide for you. Today, we’ll discuss eSignatures.

To start out, let’s go over some FAQ basics about eSignatures.

What is an e-signature?
Said simply, an eSignature is your signature on a digital document. It can come in the form of an image of your signature, your name typed out, or increasingly common, your name signed with your mouse or even your finger on your device’s screen. We use eSignatures to express consent to the terms of a particular document.

Okay, but I’ve heard this term “digital signature.” Is that different?
The short answer: sort of. A digital signature is like an additional security layer to an E-Signature. They have additional security baked into them via Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) technology that aims to guarantee the signer, the document and the signer’s intent, but with that, security can come somewhat at the price of ease of signing. Applying digital signatures takes more time, and can require slightly more clicks. Both forms of eSignatures are legally binding.

What is the legal status of eSignatures?
99.5% legal, thanks to the U.S. Federal ESIGN Act passed in 2000. You can sign almost any document with an eSignature, and it must be accepted by whomever requested your John Hancock. The short list of documents (that pesky remaining .5%) that will not accept eSignatures are not related to business and consumer transactions – so anything you’d need to sign in either of those realms would be perfectly legal.

How can I create an e-signature?
We recommend using Nitro Pro or Nitro Cloud to help you create and store your e-signatures safely. It’s a simple process that involves either taking an image of your signature, or signing the screen with your mouse/finger. But there are other programs out there that allow you to do the same thing.

It’s important to remember that your exact signature is not required to be an e-signature. Just typing your name into a space is equally legally binding, though not as formal looking.

Stay tuned for our next eSigning post, when we’ll tackle why eSignatures matter to you and your business.