What do we need signature for? What idea does a signature in a document emanates?
Well, a signature is nothing but a way of authenticating any document. Whenever we need to substantiate any document, papers, file etc. a mere signature at the bottom does it all.
But we live in a world of internet where all the documents that are shared are made and exchanged online. All the personal, legal, official, and even confidential information now-a -days are communicated online. All this sudden hike in online documentation and sharing calls for a method of authenticating an online document.
What is a digital signature?
A Digital signature is a way to warrant any online data or document. In other words it is used to authenticate digital information — such as documents, e-mail messages, and macros — by using computer cryptography. Moreover, a digital signature in a document helps us affirm that the document is not meddled or tampered with after it is signed by the legitimate authority by converting the file into a ‘Read Only’ format immediately after signing.
Authenticity of a document – A Digital Certificate
A Digital Certificate is, in a way, an ‘identity proof’ of the digital signature. There are two methods of getting a certificate.
- Getting it from a certificate authority or Microsoft partner – If you plan to exchange digitally-signed documents together with other people, and you want the recipients of your documents to be able to verify the authenticity of your digital signature, you can buy a digital certificate from a reputable third-party certificate authority (CA) or from Office Marketplace.
- Create your own certificate – If you do not want to purchase digital certificate from a Certificate Authority, you can create your own digital certificate.
NOTE – In this case if you share your digitally signed document with other people, they cannot verify the authenticity of the document without manually trusting the source.
How can digital signatures be used in Office documents?
There are in total two different ways to verify office documents with the help of digital signatures. You can either –
- Add visible digital signature to a document.
- Add an invisible digital signature to a document.
Both these methods are illustrated below.
Add visible signature to a document –
After the editing part of your document has ended, the final step that remains to make your document authentic is adding a digital signature to it. Given are the few steps to add digital signature to your word document –
- Place your pointer to the location where you want to insert your signature. Now click on the ‘Insert’ tab and then in the options that appear, click on ‘Signature line’ or ‘Microsoft office signature line’ (top right corner).
- If you are doing this for the first time, a small window might hop up at the center of your screen, like this one –
Click OK. Then another window might show up looking like –
Here you can either get a certificate from a Microsoft partner or you may create your own digital ID. I would suggest, for the time being, you should go with the second option and click OK and then fill your relevant details.
Once you are done filling, click Create and your digital ID is made.
- Now a signature setup box appears on your screen demanding some information.
- Suggested signer: Signer’s full name.
- Suggested signer’s title: Signer’s title(optional).
- Suggested signer’s e-mail address: Signer’s e-mail address (optional).
- Instructions to the signer: Add instructions for the signer (if needed).
Fill this data and select one or the both checkboxes (optional) given below and click OK.
- Now a box appears on your document looking like this –
Double click on this box (or right click and select Sign from menu).
Now to add printed version of your signature, type your name in the box next to X. Or you can also upload an image/logo by clicking on ‘Select Image’ option and selecting the image you like.
Now click the ‘Sign’ button.
- A message will now pop up on your screen like this one here. Click OK and you are done.
Your visible signature is now uploaded in your document making it a ‘read only’ file. You may remove or look into this signature by right clicking on the signature block and selecting ‘Remove signature’ or ‘signature setup’ respectively.
Add invisible signature to a document –
If you do not need to insert visible signature lines into a document, but you still want to provide assurance as to the authenticity, integrity, and origin of a document, you can add an invisible digital signature to it.
For this, after your document is complete, go to ‘File’ (top left corner). In the drop down menu go to ‘Info’ and then click on ‘Protect Document’.
Again a drop down menu will appear. In this menu, click on ‘Add a Digital Signature’ button. A small window will now pop up on your screen like the image shown.
In this window, fill the relevant details (optional) and then click on ‘Sign’. Again a dialog box will appear as illustrated in point 5 above. Click on OK.
And you are done! Your document is added with an invisible signature and converted into un-editable file. An image at the bottom bar tells that the document is protected. It looks like –
This is how you can easily authenticate your Word documents by adding visible or invisible Digital Signatures to it.
If you couldn’t follow something from our article, please do tell us. We would be delighted to help you.