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Digital Signature Vs. Electronic Signature

digital signature and electronic signature

One of the most vivid memories from our childhood is practicing signatures in different styles on random pieces of paper.

As we grew up, we settled for the signature that seemed perfect, and thats the one we have been using throughout our professional life.

Who knew the future would see our stylish handwritten signatures being replaced by electronic signatures? And another few years down the lane, digital signatures would become the criteria to legally binding documents?

Even though electronic and digital signatures are being widely used in many companies, theres still some confusion regarding the difference between the two, where to use them, and how to create them?

We have answered all these questions in the article that follows.

What is an Electronic Signature?

what is an esignature

Youll find hundreds of write-ups explaining what an electronic signature is, but we will simplify it for you!

An electronic signature is a digitized version of your signature used to verify a document. It can be created using any electronic signature tool, like Wondershare PDFelement Cloud, with your finger, mouse, or a digital pen.

Alternatively, you can also take a picture of your handwritten signature and place it.

The primary aim of an electronic signature is to confirm the signers intent and the documents validity.

What is a Digital Signature?

A digital signature is similar to an electronic signature, but it has an encrypted algorithm, making it tamper-evident. This means that if someone makes any changes in the document after a digital signature has bound it, the signature will become invalid.

A digital signature aims to confirm the persons identity and the authenticity and originality of the document.

Now lets look at some factors that make electronic and digital signatures distinct from each other.

Difference Between Electronic and Digital Signatures

The purpose of an electronic and digital purpose might be similar, but some points set them apart.

Electronic Signature
Digital Signature
It has 4 types:
- Basic electronic signature
- Click-to-sign signature
- Advanced electronic signature
- Qualified signature
It has 2 types:
- Microsoft Word/Excel
- Adobe PDF
It is authorized by the document owner and involved parties. It is authorized by the government or certification authorities.
is secured by multi-factor authentication. is secured by codes and algorithms.
is difficult to track changes with electronic signatures. keeps track of the changes made to the document.
The signer’s email or phone number is used for authentication. A digital ID is used for authentication.
is used for indicating consent and validity of the document. confirms the identity of the signer and secures the document.

1. Types

Electronic signatures can be classified into 4 types:

  • Basic electronic signature

  • Click-to-sign signature

  • Advanced electronic signature

  • Qualified signature

On the other hand, digital signatures are of 2 types:

So, if youre ever confused whether a signature is electronic or digital, you can always check with the types.

2. Authorization

An electronic signature is authorized by the document owner or the people involved in signing it, while a digital signature is authorized by the government or departments that provide certification.

3. Security

When it comes to security, a digital signature is the winner! The reason being that it is encrypted with codes and algorithms that make it impossible to tamper with. But, an electronic signature is only protected by multi-factor authentication, making it relatively less secure than a digital one.

4. Audit Logs

Audit logs are used to keep track of the changes made to a document, complete with the date and time. This feature is only available with digital signatures and is difficult to apply in electronic signatures.

This is one reason digital signatures are more secure as compared to electronic signatures.

5. Authentication

An electronic signature uses the signers phone or email as an authentication method, while a certified ID is involved in a digital signature.

6. Usage

Theres a tad bit of difference in the usage of both signatures. An electronic signature is simply used to sign the document indicating that the signer agrees with it, while a digital signature secures the document and validates its veracity.

Now that you know the significant differences between an electronic signature and a digital signature and how security is an important element, Im sure youre wondering where to use both types.

Where to Use an Electronic Signature?

As an electronic signature is used mostly for the purpose of agreement by the signer, You can use it for binding the following documents:

Documents where an Electronic Signature Can Be Used
1 Vendor agreements
2 Sales contracts
3 Customer approvals
4 Employee forms
5 Property license
6 Filing tax returns
7 Other legal documents

Where to Use a Digital Signature?

A digital signature ensures foolproof security; hence you can use it for the following documents:

Documents where a Digital Signature Can Be Used
1 Financial agreements
2 Contract management software
3 Software distribution

You know how and where to use an electronic and digital signature. But, we havent covered the most important aspect - how to create these signatures?

How to Create Electronic Signature?

We will go over the steps of creating an electronic signature using Wondershare PDFelement Cloud.

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Step 1

Head over to the Wondershare website, click on “Access Cloud.”

access document cloud

Step 2

Click on your avatar at the top-right corner, and from the drop-down menu, click on “Signing Setting.” You will then be redirected to a page from where you can set your signature.

signing setting

Step 3

Click on “Create Signature.” This will open up a drawing board for you to create your signature.

create signature

Step 4

On the drawing board, youll get 3 different options to create your signature:

  • Type: You can use this to type your full name or use initials.

  • Upload: Upload an image of your handwritten signature.

  • Draw: Use your finger, mouse, or a digital pen to draw your signature directly on the screen.

methods to create signature

Step 5

The last step is to save your signature for future use.

Thats how you create an electronic signature in 5 easy steps using Wondershare PDFelement Cloud.

How to Create a Digital Signature?

Now, if you want to create a digital signature, here are the steps to do so using Wondershare PDFelement Pro DC.

Wondershare PDFelement Pro DC

Simplify your Workflow with the PDFelement Cloud.

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Step 1

Launch PDFelement on your PC, and open the file that requires your signature.

pdfelement homepage

Step 2

Now click on “Protect > Sign Document.”.

sign document

Step 3

Now place the signature box where you want to sign the document.

place digital signature

Step 4

Once you have placed the signature box, a dialogue box to “Add Digital ID” will appear.

Here, you can either click on “My existing Digital ID from a file” if you have a previously created signature.

Or, click on “A new Digital ID I want to create now” to create a new one.

set a signature

Step 5

Now, you will be given 2 options for creating your Digital ID:

  • i) New PKCS#12 Digital ID file

  • ii) Windows Certificate Store

Click “Next” after selecting your desired option.

add digital id

Step 6

Fill in the required fields and click “Next.”

click next button

Step 7

Now click on “Browse” to save your Digital ID to your desired location, or you could go with the default one. Set the password and click “Finish.”

click finish button

Step 8

Enter your password, and select the signature style. The standard style is shown in the image; however, you can select “Create New Style” to customize your Digital ID.

Dont forget to select “Lock Document after Signing” before clicking on “Sign.”

click sign button

Your document will now be digitally signed, safely, and securely.

The Takeaway

In a world where forgery and tampering is common practice, we should take precautionary steps on our own to avoid such instances.

This is where electronic signatures and digital signatures come to the rescue. Using these signatures is a safe and legal way to bind documents. If you aim to get an agreement, you can go for quick electronic signatures. However, if youre looking to tamper-proof and validate documents, digital signatures are recommended.

So, set aside your pen, get a digital ID, and sign your documents with a single click!