Free electronic signatures are a smart tool for small business


This guide outlines the benefits of moving to free electronic signatures, and reviews the best four for business use.

Electronic signatures have displaced traditional pen-and-ink signatures for approving business documents. And there are many good reasons for this. Signing with an e-signature is fast, easy and inexpensive. What’s more, modern software makes it possible to sign documents from a range of devices.  

Most apps offer long-term free plans, mobile apps, and intuitive browser-based interfaces. If you require more advanced document management features—like tracking, online storage, and editing (to name just a few examples)—you have many options to choose from.  

Using free electronic signatures

We’ll outline the best way to create free electronic signatures, explore which features you should look for in a free e-signature platform, and list some of the best free apps.  

What is an Electronic Signature? 

An electronic signature is a digital “mark” that is affixed to a document to signify approval of a set of terms by one or more parties.   A basic electronic signature might simply be an image of a handwritten signature that’s uploaded to a PDF. On the other hand, digital signatures are highly secure electronic signatures that rely on complex encryption infrastructure and require specialized apps to use.  

Most individuals that deal with documents regularly use an electronic signature, particularly those working in a corporate environment. Often, they will use browser-based software to review and approve documents before returning them to the original sender.  

Determine your free electronic signatures requirements  

To create a free electronic signature, you first need to pick software that provides e-sign features.  Applications like Adobe Acrobat include tools for creating and saving free electronic signatures, which can then be added to PDF documents. More advanced platforms like PandaDoc, also offer this functionality in addition to a suite of features that allow users to edit, send, and track documents.  

Consider the following questions before picking an e-signature platform: 

  • Do you require advanced features? If you only intend to sign a handful of documents every month and do not require editing or tracking features, a free electronic signatures tool like Adobe Acrobat will meet your needs. If you need to edit, track and store documents, there are several free platforms that will allow you to do so.  
  • How many documents will you sign per month? Many free platforms have caps on the number of documents that can be uploaded, signed, or sent. This is something to keep in mind when considering options.  
  • Is integration with your existing tech stack a priority? If you intend to sync your e-signature platform with your current technology suite, ensure that required integrations are available. Access to an app’s integration library tends to be a paid feature, so this question may only be relevant if you intend to upgrade from a free plan at a later date.  

Top 4 free electronic signatures tools  

Here is a brief overview of four of the top free electronic signature platforms currently on the market: 

  • PandaDoc – PandaDoc is a comprehensive document management solution. Its free plan includes unlimited legally-binding signatures (there are no limits on the number of documents you can upload, sign, and track), activity tracking, payment integrations, and access to the mobile app. If you decide to upgrade to a premium plan at a later stage, PandaDoc offers competitive pricing and one of the best feature sets of any e-signature platform.  
  • Adobe Acrobat – Adobe Acrobat is a free and widely-used app that provides e-sign functionality. If the majority of documents you deal with are in a PDF format—or you don’t mind converting them to PDFs—and you only require the ability to add simple signatures to documents, Acrobat may be sufficient for your needs. If you are looking for advanced features, you will need a different platform.  
  • DocuSign – DocuSign is one of the most recognizable brands in the electronic signature space. It is very popular with large organizations but also offers a free plan for individuals. The free package allows users to upload and sign an unlimited amount of documents, with a variety of formats supported. On the downside, free users cannot send documents to recipients.  
  • SignWell – SignWell, formerly Docsketch, is a clean and intuitive e-signature app. The free plan allows users to send three documents a month and also provides access to notification features and one template. For individuals that want to add signatures to documents only occasionally, a free browser-based tool is provided (no subscription is required). 

Photo by Pixabay


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