How to create an electronic signature and sign documents online

November 8, 2023
Deepak Dhanak

Deepak Dhanak

Co-Founder & CEO at | CA, HBS, IIM-A
8 min read

Digitization continues to impact businesses at every level, including workflows. This is because customers and stakeholders expect you to function at the speed of digital. Your competitors are also embracing it because frees up talent for more high-value tasks. 

A key step you need to take in this direction is switch to esigning or digital approvals. Implement secured digital sharing and signing to do away with manual despatches, follow-ups, and file keeping. The big advantage is that digital signatures are legally valid and you can embed them into a document within seconds. This makes them a preferred alternative for everyone, including startups.

What is an electronic signature? 

What is an electronic signature or eSignature?

An electronic signature is more than an e-version of your physical signature

It involves using an application which verifies and records your acceptance. An esignature also includes the date, location, and related fields, adding to its legitimacy. 

Creating your esignature is simple. 

Most esigning applications allow you to choose from multiple signing styles. You can choose to simply enter your name and initials and let the application generate options with font and style choices. 

Alternatively, you can draw your signature within the application or even upload a photo. Once you confirm your sign, you only need to drag and drop it at the pre-marked fields in the document. 

When it comes to choosing a style, here is a tip – upload a photo of your actual signature when signing high-value documents and agreements. This ensures there is no room for inconsistencies. This is also a good option when you are signing documents that might undergo stringent vetting. 

Remember: Most businesses are inclusive towards all types of electronic signatures. 

 Watch this quick video to learn how to request and create an electronic signature:

What is an electronic signature application? 

An electronic signature application is integral to the esigning process. It enables you to share and sign documents in a secure and convenient manner. As a sender or a recipient, you can use an esigning software to upload documents (and even create them) for verified signing over the cloud. 

Apart from accelerating signature management, it also ensures privacy, and secure, long-term storage of your documents. This is because when you share an electronically signed document over an application, you limit its access to the specific recipient(s).

In fact, you can use top electronic signature applications to access a host of additional features that enhance signature and document management. 

When comparing your options, it is important to compare top tools in the context of free and paid plans – sign up basis your specific requirements. For example, digital payments can be a powerful add-on feature if you are a procurement manager. The same feature may be of limited value if you are a student or an HR professional.

Compare top esigning applications here

How to create an electronic signature in 60 seconds

Step 1

Create an account with an electronic or digital signature application of your choice. We will explain use DocuX as a reference here. To sign up on DocuX:

Create an electronic signature - step 1

Step 2

Opt for a free trial to a paid plan or a free plan if you are just getting started with e-signing 

Step 3 

Ready the document(s) you want to get signed or access an in-app document for designing

Step 4

Select the document that needs e-signing

Step 5

Add email IDs of the recipients who need to sign, including yourself or someone at your organization (if needed)

Step 6

Add esign stamps such as address, date, organization name, and signer’s title

Step 7

Insert the required fields on the document

Step 8

Send the document for eSignatures to all added eSigners

Step 9

Once eSigned, you and all eSigners should receive the document by email. It will also be available on DocuX for future reference.

E-Sign your first document.

The top free plans to create an electronic signature 

Most of the top esigning and digital signature applications offer a free plan with basic features. Starting with such a plan can help you compare the pros and cons of top esigning applications. 

Here are some of the top free plans you should explore first-hand:

DocuSign Free Edition PlanPandaDoc Free eSign PlanDocuX Personal Plan
DurationUpto 3 signatures per free accountUpto 5 signatures per free accountUpto 3 signatures per month 
In-app document creation XXUpto 10 documents per month 
Secure StorageLimitedXUnlimited 

The best value-for-money plans to create a secure digital signature 

While free plans are great to get started, you might want to consider a paid plan if you need additional features or enhanced security. 

Here is a detailed comparison of paid plans that offer great value:

Plan DetailsDocuSign Personal PlanDropBox Sign Professional PlanPandaDoc Essentials PlanDocuX Pro Plan
Pricing USD 10 per monthUSD 16.58 per monthUSD 19 per monthUSD 9 per month
Seats/users11< 2Unlimited
Signatures< 5 per month<3 per monthUnlimitedUnlimited 
Payments XXX
Tracking and notificationsX
Collaboration XXX
Bulk SendXXXX
Custom user rolesXXX
Security CompliancePartialXPartialPartial
IntegrationsPartialXXPersonal tools 
Support XXPartial
Value for Money Score2134

Get started with a free trial of DocuX’s Pro plan.

Top things to remember when creating an electronic signature

Create a secure account

While creating an account for a quick esign, there are good chances you may use it regularly in the long run. Consider a robust password and update any other security-related fields.  

Use a secure system

The top digital signing applications are invested in secure infrastructure and cloud storage. It is important that you contribute to a safe signing environment. Open the application in a secure browser. Use a system with active anti-virus control. This will enhance the safety of your digital signature and critical documents.  

Learn more about security and encryption 

Every esigning application does not offer the same level of security. Thoroughly understand every security-related feature that your preferred application has to offer. In the case of critical documents and envelopes, consider an application that offers: a) authorized certification b) signature encryption

Choose a plan basis your signing frequency and feature relevance

You could be tempted to choose a plan with the longest free trial period or the cheapest paid plan. This can prove to be a mistake; you might land up with a plan that impacts your ability to scale on esigning and document management. Compare features and signature/user caps in the context of immediate and mid-term needs. 

Start with a basic plan and scale as you go

When unsure about a paid plan, opt for a basic free plan, explore the application, and upgrade to a paid plan after a few weeks. This will help you make an informed decision and pick the most optimum plan for your needs. 

Read ahead about document storage/cloud access 

Don’t assume, especially in the case of a free plan, that you will be able to access your signed documents without incurring additional costs. Certain applications tend to levy an add-on fee for downloading your signed documents. This is often post the trial period or when you choose to close a paid account. Similarly, additional cloud storage might require you to upgrade. 

How to use electronic signature applications for faster document signing 

Choose an application that focuses on collaboration and automation

Multiple edits and manual follow-ups are the biggest barriers to swift document signing. Invest in an esigning application with drag-and-drop functionality for drawing up contracts. It should also offer in-app collaboration and automated alerts to minimize delays. 

Leverage templates and customize clauses on-the-go

Don’t rely on legal and ssubject matter experts to draw up standard documents and contracts for you. Speed up signing formalities by using pre-approved templates. You can edit and customize them basis feedback from many stakeholders in one single file. Save yourself the hassle of maintaining and comparing versions of the same document.    

Let everyone on the team get automated alerts 

Invest in a digital signature application that offers end-to-end document workflow visibility. This ensures that all stakeholders get automated updates and are encouraged to complete the task assigned to them, be it clause edits or esigning in good time.   

Scale with contract lifecycle management 

To create and close agreements at scale, use a digital signature application that streamlines the document management lifecycle. Features such as user control, audit trails, and unlimited cloud storage minimize operational bottlenecks. 

Learn why busy professionals rely on DocuX 

Top electronic signature FAQs 

How much does it cost to create an electronic signature?

The cost varies significantly depending on the esigning plan you choose. Most applications offer a free trial as well as free plans

How can I create an electronic signature for free?

You can create an account with any of the top electronic signature applications, all of which offer 3 to 5 free signatures. If you want free access for longer, you can get started with DocuX’s personal plan for free lifetime access.  

Is it safe to create an electronic signature?

It is absolutely safe and legal to esign documents, including critical agreements. You can also choose to use a digital signature since it offers greater security owing to encryption, third-party certificate, and non-repudiation.

Which software is best to create an electronic signature?

There are multiple applications that are ideal for secure esigning. Depending on your esigning needs, compare your options in terms of cost, features, security, and scalability.  

What should I keep in mind while creating an electronic signature?

It is important to consider a secure ecosystem, the tamper-proof nature of digital signatures over electronic signatures, and the type of signature basis your document’s criticality. 

How can I request an electronic signature?

You can create or upload the document with an esigning application of your choice. Enter the email IDs of the recipients who need to sign, including yourself or someone at your organization (if needed). Add esign stamps such as place and date for validation and hit submit. The recipients will receive an access-controlled link in their email for esigning the document.  

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