Electronic signatures are here to stay. That has been proven by the rate of adoption and the wide range of applications. Many people don’t realize there are different types of electronic signatures, like digitized signatures, that serve specific purposes.
The challenge people experience is not knowing what kind of electronic signature to use and when to use them. In this guide, you’ll learn what digitized signatures are, their benefits, and how to make one.
What is a digitized signature?
Electronic signatures can be confusing at times leading you to wonder what a digitized signature is and isn’t. In its simplest form, a digitized signature is a copy of your handwritten signature that has been translated into an electronic form. This can be done in many ways which we’ll cover later in this post.
When they’ve been turned digital, they’re classified as simple or basic electronic signatures. According to laws in most Western nations, it’s legal to use a digitized signature to sign a wide range of legal documentation.
Benefits of a digitized signature
Digitized signatures carry the same benefits as electronic signatures which we’ve expounded on multiple times in this blog. I won’t go into that again.
Instead, I’ll focus on benefits that are specific to signatures that have been digitized.
- Look just like your handwritten signature. In fact, it is your handwritten signature that has been transformed into an electronic signature. This high-fidelity copy would make it easier to spot alterations in your signature.
- They’re straightforward to make. The process is simple and it should be possible to do everything with your phone. I’ll walk you through multiple methods of making a digitized signature later in this article.
Are digitized signatures legal?
That’s a resounding yes. In the United States and the European Union, digitized signatures fall under basic and simple electronic signatures respectively. This also applies to many other jurisdictions that have laws related to electronic signatures.
Keep in mind that the ESIGN ACT of 2000 stipulates that an electronic or digitized signature must be used with the appropriate technology. That means you can’t just affix your signature on documents and call it a day.
The same holds true for simple electronic signatures in the EU. You’ll need a software solution like Bonsai to ensure you sign your contracts and other documents in the right way.
If this crucial step is skipped, contracts signed with a plain digitized signature may be challenged and thrown out in court.
Digital vs digitized signatures
Digitized signatures and digital signatures are not the same things. A digital signature can be a digitized signature but a digitized signature isn’t necessarily a digital signature.
Digital signatures are a more advanced form of basic electronic signatures. They use public key infrastructure (PKI) for authentication. There’s a set of private and public keys that need to match before the digital signature can be authenticated.
A digitized signature, on the other hand, doesn’t have the built-in infrastructure. As a result, it cannot be used as a standalone way to sign documents. We’ll touch more on that later.
A digitized signature image can be equated to an electronic signature but it shouldn’t be used interchangeably with a digital signature.
How to digitize a signature
As mentioned before, there are multiple ways to digitize a signature. I’ll lay out four methods here and it’s up to you to pick a method that works best for you.
1. Scanned signature
The first method to digitize your signature requires a scanner. Write your signature on a piece of paper. It should be a blank white sheet like computer paper. It’ll make it easier to remove the background later.
Scan the piece of paper that contains your signature. Any run-of-the-mill scanner can serve the purpose of a digital signature scanner so don’t overthink this part.
Once you’ve scanned and uploaded it, use a tool like Paint for Windows or Paintbrush for MacBook to crop the image. You want to remove as much of the background as possible.
After cropping, navigate to any tool that will allow you to remove the background. Adobe Photoshop, Remove.bg, or Picsart background remover are three options you can use. If you have something else in mind, feel free to use it. Once the background has been removed, you now have a digitized signature.
2. Take a picture
The second option is similar to the first method and is what most people will use. You don’t need a scanner. Instead, after you’ve signed on a blank piece of white paper, pull out your phone and take a picture of it. You now have an image of a signature – your signature.
All other steps are the same. You’ll have a digitized signature with roughly the same quality as the scanned method. You’ve now created a signature from a photo.
3. Take advantage of Bonsai
The final method is to use our electronic signature maker to draw your signature. Open the link in the previous sentence and you’ll be taken to the online signature maker tool that allows you to draw your signature. Depending on the type of device you’re using, you can make the signature with your finger, with a stylus, and or with your mouse. It may take a little bit of trial and error to get the hang of it if you’ve never signed like this before.
Once you’re done, you can download the signature directly from the page.
Digitized signature FAQs
1. Can a digitized signature be used to sign documents?
In the United States, countries in the European Union, and many other jurisdictions, digitized signatures can be used to sign documents as long as certain conditions are met. For example, the Federal ESIGN Act stipulates certain technology requirements. You can’t just insert your digitized signature inside a document and call it a day.
What’s to stop someone from removing it later, changing it, or otherwise manipulating the signature you added? That’s why you need to use specific technology to sign with your digitized signature.
2. What’s the difference between a digitized signature and a handwritten signature?
A handwritten signature, also known as a wet signature, is one of the most versatile forms of signing. The major difference between it and digitized signatures is the fact that handwritten signatures are physical and will be accepted without additional technology requirements.
3. What do I do if I cannot get a transparent background?
If you’re having trouble getting a transparent background, it’s best to use a signature maker tool like the one given as an example above. Without a transparent background, it may not fit all the documents that you intend to sign. Not all documents have a white background.
This may cause skepticism or confusion which is the last thing you want when trying to execute an important document.
4. Is a digitized signature the same thing as a digital signature?
Now, as mentioned in one of the sections above, a digital signature uses what’s known as PKI to add extra layers of security to a signature. An electronic or digitized signature doesn’t have these same protections in place.
That does not mean it’s not valid for signing documents. It just means the process to get a document signed is a bit different for these signatures.
Just a piece of the puzzle
A scanned or digitized signature can’t be used directly to sign documents. If you go that route, they may not be enforceable in court because you’ve not followed the process stipulated by law. Remember, the law treats them the same as electronic signatures – not like handwritten signatures.
Because of this, you’ll need an extra tool like Bonsai you can before you’re able to successfully sign a document and be confident it’s legally binding. Of course, you can just insert your signature into any document using something like Microsoft Word or a PDF editor but it won’t be legally binding.
If you have a digitized signature or want to digitize it and sign electronically, be sure to try Bonsai, It's free for 7 days! You’ll be able to sign your first document in minutes.