Did you know that there are many ways to sign a document? Sure you can use an ink pen to write your name or a stamp to verify your approval on a contract. These signing methods fall under the “wet signature” category — so named for the wet ink used to create them.
Over the past few decades electronic signatures have been widely adopted. There are, however, plenty of subsets to eSignatures. When you get that contract or document that requires your signature, are you using an electronic signature, a digital signature, or an s-signature? Here we break down the differences, similarities, and how you can make signing for you, your employees, and your customers a seamless process using Nitro Sign capabilities.
What is an s-signature?
An s-signature is a form of electronic signature that legally replaces the signature on a document without actually having to sign. Or, more simply put, to create an s-signature, you’ll type your name on the line of a document using a forward slash on either side, with no spaces between the name and the slashes. Then you’ll type your name beneath the s-signature. Rather than using your finger to scrawl your signature electronically as you would on a credit card machine, you’ll enclose your typed signature between slashes that serve as your official signature.
In order for an s-signature to be valid:
- Make sure you space the signature correctly.
- Check for proper punctuation, such as the slashes, lines, and any periods in your signature.
- Use letters, Arabic numerals, or a combination of both in your signature.
- Be sure to print or type out your name either on the right side of your s-signature or just below it.
Why would you use an s-signature?
Using s-signatures allow government entities and businesses to avoid delays of waiting for the receipt of paper documents with a handwritten signature. Conformed signatures allow anyone to sign documents electronically and return them to the relevant parties in a timelier manner. The use of s-signatures also can eliminate the need for printing, signing, and scanning documents.
What is a conformed signature?
While the traditional double slashes are both acceptable and the preferred type of s-signature, there are other forms of s-signatures, too. A conformed signature falls under the umbrella of s-signatures (and, therefore, also eSignatures). To create a conformed signature, you’ll simply type your name with an /s/ before it. The name s-signature comes from the conformed signature style. For example, if using a conformed signature, you’ll sign your name as /s/ John B. Doe.
When would you use an s-signature?
S-signatures are a convenient way to securely sign and authenticate a document that’s legally binding. Rather than waiting for a wet signature, s-signatures help streamline the entire signing process, eliminating those workflow pain points. Situations where you may use an s-signature include:
Court documents, excluding papers such as adoptions, wills, trusts, foreclosures, evictions, and utility transfers, may accept s-signatures. Some federal circuit and district courts allow lawyers to sign large batches of papers via s-signature.
Government entities such as the Federal Trade Commission, U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, and the Federal Communications Commission all accept s-signatures in many instances, especially when it comes to filing for patents and inventions.
Keep in mind that before you sign or send out any document, you’ll need to familiarize yourself with the s-signature rules of the government agency or court with which you’re working.
While a variety of professions may employ s-signatures, the United States Patent and Trademark Office offers some of the most comprehensive guidance when it comes to acceptable formats of s-signatures. As with any electronic signature, you’ll want to determine which way to sign a document to make it valid.
Proper way to sign a document using an s-signature
- Spaces between the forward slashes and the name with the signer’s name typed below the s-signature: / John B. Doe / ——————-
John B. Doe
- No spaces between the slashes, and no line under the signature. The name typed under the s-signature remains:
/John B. Doe/
John B. Doe
- Typed signature within the slashes with the name out to the side: /John B. Doe/ John B. Doe
- Typed signature within slashes in a scripted font on the line, with the name below: /John B. Doe /———---------
John B. Doe
- The name above with the s-signature located below the line:
John B. Doe _________
/John B. Doe/
- S-signature in the slashes with no spaces and the name out to the right side:
/John B. Doe/ John B. Doe
Legality of s-signatures
Two main entities regulate eSignatures in the United States:
Uniform Electronic Transaction Act: Enacted in 1999, UETA gives states the jurisdiction to decide whether a document that’s eSigned is valid. Currently, almost every state, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Washington, D.C., fall under UETA. To consider a document legal and valid under UETA:
- All parties must intend to electronically sign the document.
- All parties must consent to conduct business electronically.
Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act: Also known as ESIGN, this federal law went into effect in 2000. With the ever-changing technology landscape, the U.S. Senate introduced a bill in late 2020 to modernize the law, repealing some of the original language. ESIGN essentially adopts UETA’s main tenets at a federal level. In addition to intent and consent, regulations under ESIGN include:
- Verifying that you’re using the s-signature with a specific document.
- Storing and reproducing any s-signed document in the event that all parties request copies.
Keep in mind that while many states, including Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Nevada, New York, and Utah, allow s-signatures and conformed signatures, other states still require wet ink signatures on certain documents. And even those states that allow s-signatures may have certain restrictions and situations where they mandate an original signature.
FAQs about s-signatures
Can I use an s-signature box to type someone else’s name?
No. Only the document’s intended signer may use a conformed signature or other s-signature.
What if I have permission to sign a document on someone’s behalf?
Place a “p.p.” prefix before the signer’s name to denote that you’ve obtained permission to electronically sign the document.
What does the /s/ placed before a digital signature mean?
The “s” enclosed in slashes denotes that the person is using an s-signature to sign the document.
Create s-signatures using Nitro Sign
Whether you’re dealing with federal and state legal documents, filing patent paperwork, or selling your old home, you can elevate your workflows by harnessing the power of Nitro’s eSigning capabilities. Nitro PDF Pro, for instance, gives you s-signing capabilities with powerful password protection. With Nitro Sign, you can:
- Create and upload s-signatures and conformed signatures.
- Bulk sign documents in seconds.
- Collaborate on documents to create a smoother workflow.
- Track a document through the entire signing process.
- Add your entity’s branding to any document requiring an s-signature.
- Send unlimited electronic signing requests.
Ready to achieve end-to-end digital transformation in your business? Whether you’re an individual, a small business, midsize organization, or a large global corporation, you can navigate your digital transformation journey with Nitro.
Nitro’s eSigning powerful solutions and productivity platforms can help drive efficiency, reduce printing and postage costs, and show you a return on investment. Contact Nitro today to see how we’ve helped more than 13,000 business customers across multiple industries and how we can help expedite your company’s s-signature capabilities, too.