Preview the Next Big Thing with MSB Docs AI

AI Summarize Elaborate
February 20th, 2024

Comprehensive Guide: A Step-by-Step Tutorial on How to Sign PDFs Online


Table of Contents


In today’s digital world, the need to sign documents securely and efficiently is paramount. PDFs have become the standard format for sharing documents, and signing them electronically offers a convenient and eco-friendly alternative to traditional ink signatures. This comprehensive guide will walk you through the step-by-step process of signing PDFs online. Whether you’re a business professional, a student, or anyone who frequently deals with digital documents, mastering this skill is essential. We’ll explore various methods and tools that allow you to sign PDFs with ease, ensuring that your digital signature is legally valid and secure.

I. Understanding the Importance of Electronic Signatures:

In this section, we will delve into the significance of electronic signatures. We will discuss the legal and security aspects, emphasizing their importance in modern document handling. Furthermore, we will outline the many advantages of signing PDFs online, such as time-saving, cost-effectiveness, and environmental benefits.

A. Legality and Security

One of the primary concerns when it comes to electronic signatures is their legal validity. Fortunately, in many parts of the world, electronic signatures are legally recognized and binding. Laws and regulations, such as the United States’ ESIGN Act and the European Union’s eIDAS regulation, have been put in place to ensure the validity of electronic signatures.

To make your electronic signature legally valid, you must use a secure and traceable method. Digital signatures, a type of electronic signature that employs encryption and unique identifiers, are commonly used for legal documents. They provide an added layer of security by ensuring that the signed document has not been altered after the signature was applied.

B. Benefits of Signing PDFs Online

  • Time Efficiency: Signing PDFs online saves valuable time. No longer do you have to print, sign, scan, and send documents physically. Instead, you can sign them within a matter of minutes, even while on the go.
  • Cost Savings: Traditional ink signatures come with costs associated with printing, scanning, and shipping. Electronic signatures eliminate these expenses, making the process cost-effective.
  • Environmentally Friendly: Choosing electronic signatures over paper and ink is not just a matter of convenience; it’s also an eco-conscious choice. Reducing paper consumption and the carbon footprint associated with the production of physical documents is an important step toward sustainability.
  • Enhanced Security: Electronic signatures often provide higher security levels than physical signatures. Digital signatures, in particular, use encryption to protect the document and the signature from tampering.
  • Global Accessibility: You can sign PDFs from anywhere in the world, making it easier to collaborate with people across different time zones. This global accessibility is especially valuable for businesses operating internationally.

II. Preparing Your Document:

Before you can sign a PDF online, you need to prepare the document. This step can vary depending on whether you are starting with a digital copy or a physical document.

A. Creating a Digital Copy

  • Start with a Digital Document: The easiest way to prepare a document for electronic signing is to begin with a digital file. This could be a Word document, a scanned PDF, or any other digital format.
  • Convert Physical Documents: If you have a physical document, you’ll need to convert it to a digital format. You can use a scanner to create a PDF from a paper document, or you can take photos of each page with a smartphone and use apps to convert them into a PDF.
  • Ensure Clarity and Legibility: Regardless of whether your document is originally digital or converted from physical form, ensure that it is clear and legible. If the text is too faint or the images are distorted, it might affect the quality of the signed document.

B. Scanning Physical Documents

  • Use a High-Quality Scanner: When scanning physical documents, make sure to use a high-quality scanner. A scanner with optical character recognition (OCR) capabilities can be especially helpful, as it can recognize and convert text in scanned images into searchable and editable text.
  • Select the Appropriate File Format: Save the scanned document in PDF format. PDF is the most common and widely accepted format for electronic documents.
  • Check for Clarity: Ensure that the scanned pages are clear, free from smudges or distortions, and that the text is sharp and easily readable.

By preparing your document correctly, you ensure that the document is ready for electronic signing and that your signature appears clearly on the final PDF.

III. Choosing the Right Online PDF Signing Tool:

Selecting the right tool is crucial for a seamless signing experience. There are several options available, each with its unique features and capabilities.

A. Top Online PDF Signing Services

  • Adobe Acrobat Sign: Adobe Acrobat Sign is a widely recognized and reliable tool for signing PDFs online. It offers various features, including the ability to create and store digital IDs, apply digital signatures, and manage your signed documents.
  • DocuSign: DocuSign is another popular option for electronic signatures. It provides a user-friendly interface and is commonly used in business settings. DocuSign offers a range of plans to suit different needs, from individuals to large enterprises.
  • SignEasy: SignEasy is a mobile-friendly solution that allows you to sign documents on your smartphone or tablet. It’s ideal for those who need to sign documents on the go. The app is available for both iOS and Android devices.
  • HelloSign: HelloSign is known for its simplicity and ease of use. It integrates well with various productivity and cloud storage platforms, making it a convenient choice for individuals and businesses.
  • SignRequest: SignRequest is a straightforward, web-based solution that offers a free plan with limited features. It’s a great choice for those with basic signing needs.
  • MSB Docs: MSB Docs is recognized for its exceptional security features, making it the most secure option among online PDF signing services. It employs advanced encryption, compliance with industry standards, identity verification, detailed audit trails, advanced access control, and blockchain integration to ensure document security and integrity.

B. Factors to Consider when Selecting a Tool

When choosing an online PDF signing tool, consider the following factors:

  • Cost: Different tools offer various pricing structures, so select one that aligns with your budget and requirements. Some tools offer free plans with basic features, while others require a subscription.
  • User-Friendliness: The tool should be intuitive and easy to use, even for those who are new to electronic signatures.
  • Compatibility: Ensure that the tool is compatible with your device and operating system (Windows, macOS, iOS, Android).
  • Features: Consider the specific features you require. Do you need to sign multiple documents? Do you need the ability to collaborate with others? Select a tool that caters to your needs.
  • Security: Look for tools that employ encryption and other security measures to protect your documents and signatures.

Now that you’ve chosen your online PDF signing tool, it’s time to move on to the actual signing process.

IV. Step-by-Step Guide: How to Sign PDF Online:

This is the heart of the guide, where we provide an in-depth, step-by-step walkthrough of three distinct methods to sign PDFs online. Each method is designed to suit various needs and preferences.

A. Method 1: Using Adobe Acrobat Reader

Adobe Acrobat Reader is a versatile tool for signing PDFs online. It provides a comprehensive platform for creating digital IDs, adding digital signatures, and managing your signed documents.

Creating a Digital ID

  • a. Open Adobe Acrobat Reader and go to “File” > “Open” to open your PDF document.
  • b. In the top menu, navigate to “Advanced” > “Sign & Certify” > “Sign Document.”
  • c. If you haven’t created a digital ID before, you’ll be prompted to do so. Follow the instructions to create your digital ID by entering your name, email, and other required information.
  • d. Choose a password to secure your digital ID and select the location where you want to save it.
  • e. Once your digital ID is created, select it and click “Sign.”

Adding Your Digital Signature

  • a. After selecting your digital ID, you’ll be prompted to place your signature on the document. Click and drag to draw your signature in the desired location.
  • b. You can resize and reposition your signature as needed.
  • c. Save the signed document by going to “File” > “Save.”

Saving and Sharing the Signed PDF

  • a. After signing, you can save your PDF with a new name to preserve the original, unsigned version.
  • b. You can now share the signed PDF with others by email or by uploading it to a cloud storage service.

B. Method 2: Using Online PDF Signing Platforms

Online PDF signing platforms are user-friendly and accessible from any device with an internet connection. Here, we’ll use a generic method, which applies to most online platforms.

Uploading Your PDF

  • a. Visit the online signing platform of your choice and create an account if necessary.
  • b. Upload the PDF document you want to sign.
  • c. If the platform requires you to add signatories or fill in additional information, do so at this stage.

Placing Your Digital Signature

  • a. Locate the option to add your signature. This is often represented as a pen icon or a “Sign” button.
  • b. Depending on the platform, you can create a signature by typing your name, drawing a signature with your mouse or stylus, or uploading an image of your signature.

Saving and Sharing the Signed PDF

  • a. Once you’ve added your signature, save the document.
  • b. Most platforms allow you to download the signed PDF directly, or you can choose to send it via email or a shareable link.

C. Method 3: Signing on Mobile Devices

Signing PDFs on mobile devices is convenient, especially if you’re frequently on the go. You can use mobile apps or add your signature using a stylus or your finger.

Using Mobile Apps

  • a. Download a PDF signing app from your device’s app store. Popular options include Adobe Acrobat Reader, SignNow, and SignEasy.
  • b. Open the app and import the PDF document you want to sign.
  • c. Use the app’s features to add your signature to the document. This may involve drawing your signature with your finger or stylus or typing your name.

Adding a Signature with a Stylus or Finger

  • a. Open the PDF document on your mobile device using a PDF reader or editing app.
  • b. Use your finger or a stylus to create your signature directly on the screen.
  • c. Save the signed document as a PDF.

These methods provide flexibility, allowing you to sign PDFs online using the devices and tools that suit your preferences and needs. Once you’ve successfully signed your PDF, the next step is ensuring its legal validity.

V. Ensuring Legal Validity:

Electronic signatures are legally binding in many jurisdictions, but it’s essential to ensure that your signed document meets the legal requirements of your region. Here are some considerations:

A. Digital Signature Laws

Laws and regulations regarding electronic signatures vary from one country or region to another. In the United States, for example, the ESIGN Act and the Uniform Electronic Transactions Act (UETA) establish the legal framework for electronic signatures. In the European Union, the eIDAS regulation provides guidelines for electronic signatures. Familiarize yourself with the laws that apply to your specific situation to ensure your electronic signatures are legally valid.

B. Certification Authorities

In some cases, it may be necessary to involve a certification authority (CA) to verify your electronic signature’s authenticity. CAs are trusted organizations that issue digital certificates, which can enhance the security and legal validity of your electronic signature.

C. Timestamping Your Signature

Adding a timestamp to your electronic signature can further enhance its legal validity. Timestamps provide evidence of when the signature was applied, making it harder for someone to dispute the timing of the signing.

To comply with legal requirements, it’s advisable to consult with a legal expert or use online signing platforms that provide options for securing the legal validity of your electronic signature.

VI. Tips for a Professional-Looking Signature:

A professional-looking signature adds credibility to your electronically signed documents. Here are some tips to help you create an impressive digital signature:

While the adoption of e-signature solutions in healthcare offers significant advantages, it is not without its challenges. Here are some considerations for healthcare organizations:

A. Signature Placement and Size

  • Position your signature appropriately within the document, typically at the end of the content.
  • Keep your signature a reasonable size to ensure it doesn’t overpower the document but is still easily recognizable.

B. Choosing the Right Font

  • If you’re typing your name as your signature, select a clean and legible font. Avoid overly decorative or handwritten-style fonts.
  • Ensure the font size is consistent with the rest of the document’s text.

C. Adding Additional Information

  • You can include additional information such as your job title, contact information, or the date to make your signature more informative.
  • Be consistent with the format of this additional information across all your electronically signed documents.

A professional-looking signature not only makes your documents appear more official but also reflects your attention to detail and commitment to quality.

VII. Handling Multiple Signatures and Collaborative Signings:

In many situations, you may need to manage multiple signatures on a single document or facilitate collaborative signings. Electronic signing platforms often offer features to streamline this process.

A. Multi-Signature Workflows

  • Invite additional signatories: In the signing platform, invite other parties to sign the document by providing their email addresses.
  • Define signing order: Specify the order in which signatories should add their signatures.
  • Automate reminders: Set up automated reminders to prompt signatories to complete their part of the process.
  • Track progress: Monitor the status of each signature to ensure that the document is fully executed.

B. Collaborative Document Signing

  • Enable comments and annotations: Collaborators can provide feedback, comments, and annotations directly on the document.
  • Real-time collaboration: Some platforms allow multiple users to work on the document simultaneously, making it easier to finalize contracts or agreements.
  • Version control: Collaborative platforms often track document versions to ensure that all parties have access to the most recent changes.

Managing multiple signatures and facilitating collaboration is much smoother and efficient in the digital realm compared to handling physical documents.

VIII. Storing and Managing Your Signed PDFs

Once your PDFs are signed, it’s important to establish an organized system for managing and storing them. This ensures that you can access your documents easily and that they are secure.

A. Organizing Your Digital Documents

  • Create a file structure: Organize your signed PDFs into folders or directories based on categories, dates, or projects. This makes it easy to locate specific documents when needed.
  • Use clear and consistent file naming conventions: Develop a naming system that allows you to quickly identify the content of each document. Include dates and keywords in your filenames.

B. Data Security and Backup

  • Protect your documents: Use encryption or password protection to secure sensitive documents.
  • Implement a backup strategy: Regularly back up your signed PDFs to prevent data loss in case of hardware failure or other unexpected issues. Cloud storage services or external hard drives are excellent backup solutions.

Storing and managing your signed PDFs systematically not only saves time but also ensures the security and accessibility of your documents in the long run.

IX. Troubleshooting Common Issues:

While electronic signing offers numerous advantages, it’s not immune to technical issues. Here are some common problems and how to troubleshoot them:

A. Signature Distortion

  • If your digital signature appears distorted or jagged, try using a stylus or a digital pen for a more precise signature.
  • Ensure that the document’s resolution and quality are high to prevent distortion when the signature is added.

B. Document Compatibility

  • If the signed PDF doesn’t display correctly on some devices or software, consider saving it in a different format, such as a PDF/A format designed for long-term archiving.
  • Verify that the recipient has compatible PDF software to view the signed document correctly.

C. Technical Errors

  • If you encounter technical errors while signing, such as software crashes or slow performance, make sure your software is up to date. Outdated software may have bugs or compatibility issues.
  • Check your internet connection, as a weak or unstable connection can disrupt the signing process.

If issues persist, consult the support resources of your chosen signing platform or seek assistance from their customer support team.

X. Future Trends in Digital Signatures:

As technology continues to advance, the world of digital signatures is evolving as well. Here are some of the future trends in digital signatures:

A. Blockchain-Based Signatures

Blockchain technology provides a decentralized and secure way to record and verify transactions, including digital signatures. Using blockchain for signatures can enhance the security and transparency of the signing process.

B. Biometric Authentication

Biometric signatures, such as fingerprint or facial recognition, are becoming increasingly popular for identity verification in digital signatures. They offer a high level of security and convenience.

C. The Role of AI in Digital Signatures

Artificial intelligence (AI) is being used to improve the accuracy and security of digital signatures. AI can analyze signatures for authenticity and detect potential forgeries.

These emerging trends highlight the potential for even more secure and efficient digital signing processes in the future.

Introducing MSB Docs: The Most Secure PDF Signing Service

As we’ve explored various online PDF signing services, it’s worth noting that MSB Docs stands out as the most secure choice for individuals and businesses that prioritize document security and legal compliance.

MSB Docs: The Most Secure PDF Signing Service

MSB Docs is renowned for its robust security features, making it the most secure option among online PDF signing services. Here’s why it stands out:

  • Advanced Encryption: MSB Docs employs top-notch encryption to protect your documents and digital signatures. Your data is safe during transmission and storage.
  • Compliance: MSB Docs complies with industry standards and regulations, ensuring that your electronic signatures are legally binding and secure.
  • Identity Verification: The platform offers multiple options for identity verification, including multi-factor authentication and biometric recognition, adding an extra layer of security.
  • Audit Trails: MSB Docs provides detailed audit trails, allowing you to track every action taken on your document. This transparency ensures the integrity of your signed PDFs.
  • Advanced Access Control: You can control who can view, edit, or sign your documents. MSB Docs offers advanced access control features for added document security.

MSB Docs stands out as the most secure choice for individuals and businesses that prioritize document security and legal compliance.

In today’s digital age, online PDF signatures have become a fundamental tool for individuals and businesses. By following this comprehensive guide and embracing the power of online PDF signatures, you can sign documents with confidence, knowing that you’re saving time, money, and the environment while ensuring the security and legality of your signed documents.

XI. Conclusion: The Power of Online PDF Signatures:

In conclusion, online PDF signatures have revolutionized the way we sign and manage documents. Electronic signatures offer time efficiency, cost savings, and environmental benefits. With the right online signing tool, you can effortlessly sign your PDFs, whether on your computer or mobile device. Ready to experience the future of secure online signing? Take the next step and request a demo or book a free trial of MSB Docs today!


The legal validity of electronic signatures varies by country and jurisdiction. In the United States, electronic signatures are generally legally binding under the ESIGN Act and UETA. In the European Union, eIDAS regulation provides guidelines. However, it’s essential to consult local regulations to ensure compliance in your specific region.

MSB Docs places a strong emphasis on data privacy and compliance with industry standards. They employ advanced encryption to protect your documents and digital signatures. Additionally, MSB Docs complies with data protection regulations such as GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) in Europe and other regional data privacy laws. By adhering to these standards, they prioritize the security and privacy of your signed documents, ensuring they meet the highest industry data protection requirements.

Yes, online signing platforms like MSB Docs often support collaborative signings. You can invite multiple parties to sign a document, define the signing order, and enable real-time collaboration. This feature streamlines the process of getting multiple signatures on a single document.

MSB Docs offers various subscription plans, including a free plan with limited features and paid plans with advanced capabilities. The specific plan you need will depend on your signing requirements. You can explore their pricing and choose a plan that suits your needs.

Requesting a demo or booking a free trial of MSB Docs is easy. Visit the MSB Docs website and look for options to request a demo or sign up for a free trial. Typically, they provide a straightforward process to get started and experience the features of their secure PDF signing service.