With many law firms operating remotely these days, one issue that keeps coming up for lawyers is: how do we get documents signed?

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The simplest option, of course, is to mail a paper copy of the document to the signor and have them sign it and mail it back.  While it works, this method is very slow and inconvenient.

Another option is to email the document to the signor to have them print it, sign it, scan it and then email it back.  This is better, but it’s still pretty cumbersome and it requires the signor to have a printer and a scanner (or at least a smartphone and an app like Adobe Scan).

A third option that is becoming more common is to sign the document entirely digitally.  Parties can always agree to work with electronic documents and signatures if they choose, and we’re finding that more and more of the organizations and firms we are dealing with are choosing to go all-electronic.  Even where ‘original’ documents or signatures are legally required, in Ontario, the Electronic Commerce Act, 2000 permits electronic documents and signatures to be used in many cases. 

There are a number of options out there for digitally signing documents, some more secure (and expensive) than others.  But the simplest and cheapest method – and one that is getting more and more use these days – is to simply ‘paste’ the image of a signature into the document to be signed.  Pretty much any computer or smartphone has the ability to do this these days, but it is not always simple to figure out how to do it.

Below you will find step-by-step instructions for electronically signing a PDF document on iPhone and Android mobile devices, and on Mac and PC computers.

I’m using an iPhone or iPad

  1. In the Mail app, go to the message that has the PDF attached to it and open the attachment.
  2. Scroll to the place in the PDF where you want to add your signature.
  3. Tap the ‘pen-in-circle’ icon in top right to open Markup.
  4. Tap the ‘+’ icon in bottom right to show more options.
  5. Tap the Signature option.
  6. Use your finger (or a stylus if you have one) to draw your signature.
  7. Position your signature as needed by dragging it.
  8. If you need to initial anywhere in the document, repeat steps 2 through 7 as needed to add your initials.
  9. Tap ‘Done’ in top left.
  10. Tap ‘Reply All’ and you will be taken to a reply email with the signed PDF already attached which you can send.

I’m using an Android phone or tablet

  1. Tap here to download Adobe Acrobat Reader from the Google Play store.
  2. Go to the email that has the PDF attached to it and open the attachment.  When asked what app you want to open the attachment with, choose Adobe Reader.
  3. Scroll to the place in the PDF where you want to add your signature.
  4. Tap the ‘pen and speech bubble’ icon near the bottom-left to enter Edit mode.
  5. Tap the ‘fountain pen’ icon near the bottom-right.
  6. Tap Create Signature, and you can either draw your signature using your finger (or a stylus if you have one), or choose the ‘camera’ icon option to take a photo of your signature from a piece of paper.
  7. Position your signature as needed by dragging it (you can also resize it).
  8. If you need to initial anywhere in the document, repeat steps 4 through 8 as needed to add your initials.
  9. Hit the ‘back’ button.
  10. Tap the ‘share’ icon and select your email app to send the signed PDF back.

I’m using a Mac

  1. Open the PDF in Preview (usually just by double-clicking it; otherwise, by right-clicking it, going to ‘Open With’ and selecting ‘Preview’).  Scroll to the place in the PDF where you want to add your signature.
  2. Sign your name clearly on a plain white piece of paper (a Sharpie or similar fine-tipped marker works well for this).
  3. Click the ‘pen-in-cicle’ icon to open Markup (or the ‘toolbox’ icon on older Macs).
  4. Click the ‘cursive writing’ icon and select ‘Create Signature.’
  5. Click the ‘Camera’ button.
  6. Hold the piece of paper with your signature up to your camera and press ‘Done’ when it appears properly on the screen.
  7. Tap the ‘cursive writing’ icon again, and select your newly saved signature.
  8. Position your signature as needed by dragging it (you can also resize it).
  9. If you need to initial anywhere in the document, repeat steps 2 through 8 as needed to add your initials (you only need to take a picture of your signature/initials once).
  10. Click the ‘share’ icon and select ‘Mail’ to add the signed PDF to a new email you can send back.

I’m using a PC

  1. Get a Mac.  Alternatively, follow steps 2 through 10 below.
  2. Click here to download Adobe Acrobat Reader if you don’t have it already, and follow the instructions to install it. Be sure to unselect any ‘optional offers’.  After the installation, close any annoying windows that pop up and delete the icon that got added to your desktop, because no one in the history of time has ever opened Adobe Reader by clicking on that icon which they will re-add every time you update the program (which you will have to do inexplicably often).
  3. Open the PDF you want to sign in Adobe Acrobat Reader DC (usually just by double-clicking it; otherwise, by right-clicking it, going to ‘Open With’ and selecting ‘Adobe Acrobat Reader DC’).
  4. Click the ‘fountain pen’ icon at the right of the toolbar.
  5. Click the ‘Fill and Sign’ button.
  6. In the ‘Fill and Sign’ toolbar, click the ‘Sign’ button , and click ‘Add Signature.’
  7. Type your name in the field that appears and select your preferred font by selecting ‘Change style.’  Alternatively, select the ‘Draw’ option and draw your signature using your mouse.  Click Apply.
  8. Position your signature as needed by dragging it (you can also resize it).
  9. If you need to initial anywhere in the document, repeat steps 4 through 8 as needed to add your initials (select ‘Add Initials’ instead of ‘Add Signature’ in step 6).
  10. Save your PDF somewhere you will be able to find it (perhaps on your Desktop) and attach it to a new email you can send from whatever email program you use.

 

COVID-19 UPDATE

Our office is open and operating with enhanced safety measures at this time.