What’s an e-signature?

What’s an e-signature?

An e-signature or electronic signature, is a legal way to get consent or approval on electronic documents or forms. It can replace a handwritten signature in virtually any process.

An e-signature or electronic signature, is a legal way to get consent or approval on electronic documents or forms. It can replace a handwritten signature in virtually any process.

What are the benefits of e-signatures?

Legally binding.

Legally binding.

Electronic signatures are legally valid and enforceable in almost every industrialised country in the world.

Incredibly efficient.
Extremely cost-effective.

Extremely cost-effective.

Using e-signatures helps reduce spending on paper, ink and postage, meaning big cost savings.

What are e-signatures used for?

Sales & Marketing


Self-serve access to digital documents like NDAs and liability forms that can be signed electronically help keep legal processes moving.

Are e-signatures legally binding?


Yes. In 2000, the United States passed the ESIGN Act, making e-signatures legal for virtually any use. Similar acts have passed in Europe and around the world, making e-signatures a legal, reliable way to get important documents signed.

For more advanced authentication, use digital signatures.


Digital signatures are the most advanced, compliant and secure type of e-signature. When you need the highest level of assurance of each signer’s identity and document authenticity, opt for digital signatures.

Try Adobe Sign — the simple e-signature solution built for business growth.

See how easy it is for you, your customers and co-workers to send and sign documents electronically from any device or browser or within just about any popular application. With Adobe Sign, you can get important documents signed and delivered in minutes, not days.

What can you do with Adobe Sign?

Send easily, just like an email.
Track and manage progress.

Adobe Sign electronic signature FAQs

An electronic signature or e-signature, is a legal way to get consent or approval on electronic documents or forms. One of the most relied upon definitions of an electronic signature is “an electronic sound, symbol or process attached to or logically associated with a record…adopted by a person with the intent to sign the record.” Electronic signatures can be used to replace handwritten signatures in virtually every personal or business process. Examples include contracts, application forms, new hire onboarding forms, nondisclosure agreements, vendor onboarding documents and RFPs, change authorisations and government benefits enrolment forms.

Yes. Electronic signatures are legally valid and enforceable in nearly every industrialised country around the world and even less-developed countries are beginning to enact e-signature laws. In 2000, the United States passed the ESIGN Act, making e-signatures legal for virtually all uses. In the European Union, the Electronic Identification and Trust Services Regulation (eIDAS) took effect in July 2016. Other countries have enacted similar laws as well. To learn more, visit our e-signature legality page.

Yes. Adobe takes the security of your digital signing experiences very seriously. Adobe Sign is certified compliant with the world’s most rigorous security standards, such as ISO 27001, SOC 2 Type 2 and PCI DSS used in the payment card industry. It complies with a wide range of privacy regulations, including HIPAA, GLBA and FERPA in the US 


Adobe Sign also employs Adobe Secure Product Lifecycle (SPLC) practices, a demanding set of over 1,000 specific security activities spanning software development practices, processes and tools and integrated into multiple stages of the product lifecycle.

With Adobe Sign, recipients can electronically sign documents by typing or drawing their name on their computer or mobile device or uploading an image of their signature. They can also use more advanced digital signatures that rely on certificate-based digital IDs to provide stronger signer authentication. 

Simply upload the document you want to get signed. Enter your recipients’ email addresses and then drag and drop signature and form fields onto the page. Click Send and Adobe Sign will email signers a link to your document.

With Adobe Sign, it’s always free and easy. No downloads or sign-ups are ever needed. Just click the email link to open the document on a mobile phone, tablet or computer. Tabs and simple instructions walk you through the process. When it’s time to sign, just enter your name in the signature box, upload an image of your signature or sign using a mouse, finger or stylus. Click Apply > Finish and you’re done. See more about how to sign using an electronic signature.

Online signatures, electronic signatures or e-signatures refer broadly to any electronic process that indicates acceptance of an agreement or a record. The term “digital signature” is frequently used to refer to one specific type of electronic signature.

Typical e-signature solutions use common electronic authentication methods to verify signer identity, such as an email address, a corporate ID or a phone PIN. Multifactor authentication is used when increased security is needed. The best e-signature solutions demonstrate proof of signing using a secure process that includes an audit trail along with the final document. 

Digital signatures use a specific type of electronic signature. They use a certificate-based digital ID to authenticate signer identity and demonstrate proof of signing by binding each signature to the document with encryption. Validation is done through trusted certificate authorities (CAs) or trust service providers (TSPs). 

Signature types are linked with signature laws and regulatory requirements. Learn how they’re used to help create legally binding electronic signature processes.

Adobe Sign lets you upload a wide range of document types when you request signatures from others or build reusable templates. They include the following: 

• PDF and Adobe PDF (.pdf) 

• Microsoft Word (.doc and .docx) 

• Microsoft Excel (.xls and .xlsx) 

• Microsoft PowerPoint (.ppt and .pptx) 

• WordPerfect (.wp) 

• Text (.txt) 

• Rich Text (.rtf) 

• Graphics (.tif, .jpg, .jpeg, .gif, .bmp and .png) 

• Web (.htm or .html)