Signing a PDF online is easier than ever thanks to Nitro Sign. We'll walk you through the process and get you the tools you need for the job.
It’s one of the most basic business transactions in the world—yet it still seems to confuse so many of us. We’re talking about the electronic signature. But before you start printing off PDFs and mailing them to someone else—showing you’re not as tech-savvy as you’d like to be—we thought we’d put together a brief guide on how to handle electronic signatures in a way that makes your signatures easier to handle.
This guide won’t be like the others. We intend this to be a “hub” for anyone who needs to know how to sign a PDF no matter which platform or device they’re using. And while we’ll provide some specific instructions you can use, we’ll also show you the links to get more specific instructions in other places.
Bottom line? If you need to know how to electronically sign a PDF and you find yourself absolutely lost, you’ve come to the right place. Consider this your map. Your destination: Making electronic signatures on PDFs a cinch in the future.
- How to Electronically Sign a PDF on Desktop
- How to Electronically Sign a PDF on a Mac
- How to Electronically Sign a PDF with an Android Device
- How to Initiate Your Own Electronic Signature Request
- Know What You’re Signing
- Using Mobile Electronic Signature Apps (and Pricing)
How to Electronically Sign a PDF on Desktop
We’ll start with basic desktop electronic signatures. If you’re using Nitro, you can use a completely web-based application to attach your signature to a PDF. In fact, it’s so easy that you don’t even have to edit the PDF directly; you can simply sign in, add your signature, and send it off for approval.
Even so, it doesn’t hurt to have someone steer you through the process. Assuming someone sent you a PDF to sign through Nitro, here’s what the steps will look like.
- Access your email. When someone uses Nitro to send you a PDF file, they can easily add your name and email address to the document. This automatically sends out an invite. The subject line will look like this: “So-and-So Has Requested Your Signature.” Click to open the email. Within that email, you’ll get the basic information, including who’s requesting your signature. You’ll also see the following link:
- Click “Sign the Document.” This will take you to the link where you can do the rest. Remember: you don’t need a Nitro account to make this happen! If you’re using Nitro and sending out PDFs, you can rest easy knowing that anyone with an email address and a desktop connection can sign it.
- If there is Two-Factor Authorization enabled, your next step will be to enter that. This will have to be provided directly from the person who created the PDF. This is strictly optional, however. It’s an added layer of security for anyone with a PDF they want to keep particularly confidential.
- Once you’ve clicked to Sign the Document, you can review the contract. From here, the person who created the PDF should have created fields for you to sign (and possibly date) the contract.
- Click the signature/date fields to enter your specific information. This is completely web-based and doesn’t require any additional software or hardware.
- Click Submit when you’re happy with your signature and date.
- That’s it! After you’ve submitted the contract, you’ll also receive a confirmation email with the contract and all relevant information for your records.
Although you don’t need a Nitro account to sign documents like these online, you can sign up to a Nitro account to keep every contract you sign through us stored in a convenient location.
How to Electronically Sign a PDF on a Mac
The good news is that because Nitro is web-based, there aren’t too many differences if you’re using a Mac. The process is essentially the same because of this, although there may be some Mac-specific quirks that are worth looking through.
- Click here for Mac-specific instructions on adding an electronic signature to a PDF.
How to Electronically Sign a PDF with an Android Device
As was the case with Macs, you can sign a PDF with an Android device simply by sticking to the instructions listed above.
- Click here for Android-specific instructions on adding an electronic signature to a PDF.
How to Initiate Your Own Electronic Signature Request
- Sign in to an existing Nitro account. You will need an account to handle this, as you’re now the originator. You can use our Try for Free option, however, if you want to try out these instructions without committing to a paid service just yet.
- Upload your PDF document. Select it from the main dashboard next. You’ll have to know where the PDF is that you want signed. If you want, you can use a scanner to upload a document that’s already in paper form but not stored electronically.
- Click Request Signature. Here’s where you can find it in the toolbar:
- Next you’ll see a window that lets you enter two fields: name and email address. The key here is that the recipients do not need Nitro to sign, and they can sign whether they’re on a Mac or Android device.
- The next step is in showing the recipients where they have to sign. Once you’ve entered the recipient’s name and address, you’ll notice a pop-up menu, as you can see in the picture below. Drag the Signature field to the appropriate area, followed by Date.
- Click Continue. You can customize an email message here as well.
- Click Request Signature.
Nitro will then automatically send out the request to the emails you’ve added.
Know What You’re Signing
Nitro makes it a snap to sign PDFs on just about any device that connects to the Internet. The above should testify to that fact. However, it doesn’t mean that you should ignore what you’re signing. In fact, you should always take time to carefully review a PDF to make sure it says what you want it to say.
You should also know what it is you’re creating when you add your signature to a document. Here’s what you’ll need to know.
- The difference between an “electronic signature” and a “digital signature.” Think of your electronic signature as the “Internet” form of your real-life paper signature. You can affix an electronic signature to a contract and have that contract be legally binding. A “digital signature,” on the other hand, is a key designed for securing a document, and may not be what you sign contracts with. You can find out more information about the differences between electronic and digital signatures here.
- What eIDAs are. It’s not enough to sign a document. You also need a place to sort and organize the contracts you already have. eIDAs, or electronic Data Information and Analysis systems, are places where you can do just that. You need access to eIDAs to properly track everything that’s gone into your signatures, whether you’re the originator of the document or merely a signer.
- The ESIGN and UETA Acts. The E-SIGN Act, also known as the Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act, was the major U.S. legislation that in 2000, helped to codify the validity of electronic signatures. You can find out more about the E-SIGN Act here at our website. The UETA Act is the Uniform Electronic Transactions Act, which was designed to create uniform standards for electronic signatures and the storage of these digital documents.
Using Mobile Electronic Signature Apps (and Pricing)
If you sign a lot of documents, then it only follows that you want as much convenience in signing them as possible. That’s why so many people sign up for mobile electronic signature apps. As soon as you receive a contract in your email inbox, you can go over to the app and start signing. These apps can also help you save documents and search through them later.
The process is convenient because it automates your filing. You no longer have to worry about which contract goes where. With cloud storage, you can have confidence that your contracts are out there, ready for your reference, and still in their original quality.
Is having an app like this worth the price? And what can an application like that really do to help make your life easier?
To answer that, let’s look at some of the features you can find with Nitro Sign.
- Create PDF contracts
- Allow multiple users to sign each document / send contracts to multiple parties
- Maintain an audit trail to see who has signed each document
- Create your own custom sign order to determine who signs what when
- PDF quick tools for editing your own PDFs and creating a professional presentation for each contract
- $13.99/month/user for Nitro Sign Essentials: includes all of the features listed above.
- $27.99/month/user for Nitro Sign Advanced, which adds the following features: analytics, team templates for creating new contracts, nudge reminders and notifications for people who haven’t signed yet, and custom branding to enhance a professional appearance
- $40.99/month/user for Nitro Sign Enterprise, which includes all of the above and adds the following features: bulk signing, integrations with Microsoft Word and SharePoint, and Two-Factor authentication for increased security
The good news with all of this? You don’t have to get it right the first time. If you sign up for a free trial of Nitro, you can test everything out before you ever send out your first contract for signing.