How to Electronically Sign PDF Documents Without Printing

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As companies switch to paperless workflows, learning how to sign a PDF online is a priceless asset to have in your arsenal. And recently, different PDF solutions now allow users to add signatures to documents without extra effort.

In this article, we’ll discuss how to sign a PDF electronically using a feature-packed PDF editor. Continue reading to discover how to sign a PDF form using an electronic signature.

What is an electronic signature?

An electronic signature (e-signature) is the legal representation of the document’s owner that confers their approval digitally. Essentially, an electronic signature is the equivalent of your handwritten signature; placing it on a document delivers your seal of approval.

Most individuals use either Adobe Sign or DocuSign for e-signing. You can also take a look at Jotform Sign if these don’t work out for you.

Before learning how to sign a PDF, understand how an e-signature works and why companies use it to speed up internal and external processes.

Differences between an electronic signature and a digital signature

When learning how to electronically sign a PDF, most people erroneously assume that an electronic signature is the same as a digital signature. This mistake is understandable, considering that some people use both terms interchangeably. 

However, digital signatures differ from electronic signatures in so many ways. Before you learn how to digitally sign a PDF file, learn about the following distinguishing factors:

  • An electronic signature is an image overlay of your handwritten signature delivered by hand to the text field. In contrast, a digital signature is an authentication mechanism used for verifying a document’s ownership.
  • Sometimes, a digital signature carries a private message key that the sender and receiver have to share. You don’t need a private key for your e-signature.
  • You can see the electronic signature on the designated part of the page, while the digital signature is always embedded into the document’s underlying framework.
  • A third party can tamper with your electronic signature with the right tools. Digital signatures are safe from tampering.
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Despite these differences, e-signatures and digital signatures perform the same function of securing your document. With both features, you can determine the authenticity of any document.

Why should you use an electronic signature?

Now that we’ve discussed how to electronically sign PDF documents using both e-signatures and digital signatures, time to choose the best option for your business workflows. 

Despite the promises of digital signatures, you should always rely on e-signatures to sign PDF online due to the following reasons.

  1. An e-signature is easy to create and apply to a document.
  2. Most PDF editing solutions have features to apply your electronic signature, even without having advanced technical knowledge.
  3. Your electronic signature provides physical evidence that you approve of the document.

How to electronically sign a PDF document

With a better understanding of e-signatures, let’s explore how to sign PDF document using different tools.

Google Docs

Looking for how to sign a PDF with a text editor? Follow these steps in Google Docs.

  1. Open Google Docs.
  2. Go to “File” > “Open”. Or press “Ctrl+O”.
  3. Upload your PDF file from Google Drive or your local device.
  4. With your document open, go to “Insert Drawing” > ”New”.
  5. Use your trackpad to draw the signature.
  6. Save and close.
  7. Drag the signature to the desired part of the page.

Alternatively, you can digitally sign PDF files using Google Docs addons.

Preview Mac

If you own a Macbook, you don’t need an advanced solution to learn how to sign a PDF document; Preview will take care of everything. This PDF editor allows you to sign documents by drawing the signature on a trackpad or uploading the pre-signed image to the file.

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Follow these steps to sign PDF files using Mac Preview:

  1. Open the PDF in Preview (you can set it as the default PDF tool).
  2. Click on the “Show Markup Toolbar” that looks like a scribble.
  3. From the menu, select “Sign”.
  4. Choose either the “Trackpad” or “Camera” option.
  5. When you select “Trackpad”, you can draw the signature and preview it in real-time.
  6. When you select “Camera”, you can capture the image and add it to your e-signature library.
  7. Click “Done” to close the modal and continue to the document.
  8. Drag the e-signature to any part of the document you prefer.
  9. Click on “File” > “Save” to store the signed PDF on your local drive.
  10. You can also select “Duplicate” to save a copy without editing the original.

Online editor (Lumin PDF)

For those looking for how to sign a PDF file online, Lumin PDF delivers this functionality perfectly. With the advanced editing features available on this tool, you can make changes to your document to protect them from unauthorized access. 

Follow the steps to create and sign PDF documents using Lumin PDF:

  1. Upload the document or open it from Google Drive.
  2. Click on the “Signature” icon on the toolbar.
  3. Click on “Create signature”.
  4. Sketch the signature on the blank canvas.
  5. Save the signature.

To upload an image of the signature:

  1. Upload the document or open it from Google Drive.
  2. Click on the “Signature” icon on the toolbar.
  3. Click on “Upload Image”.
  4. Choose any file below 2.5 MB from your device or Google Drive.
  5. Save the signature to your library.
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How to sign on PDF documents:

  1. Open the PDF.
  2. Click the “Signature” tool.
  3. From the menu, choose a saved signature. You can also create or upload a new e-signature.
  4. Adjust the style and color.
  5. Add the signature to your document.
  6. Drag it to the signature box or any part of the text you wish.
  7. Save the changes to the PDF document.
  8. Share the document via direct link or email.

Lumin PDF also allows users to add custom signature fields for fillable forms that require multiple signatories using the web app or the Google Drive add-on. Users can also annotate and comment on PDF documents. And most importantly, your changes are saved in real-time.


Electronic signatures help you to secure and authenticate your PDF documents. However, some people confuse e-signatures for digital signatures. Although they both help verify the document, they differ in terms of appearance and use. Digital signatures are invisible to the naked eye, while electronic signatures are clear to see.
By understanding how to sign PDF files using PDF tools, you can improve collaborations and other internal processes.

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Bilal Is a Blogger and an SEO professional. Founder of & & , I have 2 years of experience in SEO & 1 year of Successful blogging @ I have a passion for SEO & Blogging, Affiliate marketer & also interested to invest on profitable stocks.