Does your signature have to be your full name?

A woman signing her signature on legal documents.

There are some important things to know about your signature. Does it have to be your full name, or can it be something else?

Does your signature have to be your name, or can it be something else entirely? If you need a legal opinion, you should consult an attorney, but, generally speaking, your signature can be whatever you want it to be. However, there are some important things to consider when asking “can your signature be anything?”

Because your signature identifies you, it should be consistent. It doesn't have to be your full name — unless you're specifically trying to match a previous authorized signature. You can choose to use just your initials instead, as one example.

However, if you’re signing a contract, it may ask for your signature in one place and then for your initials as an acknowledgment on additional pages. In this situation, you’ll need to use a more conventional signature that can be distinguished from your initials.

How to create your online signature.

Can a signature be anything? Simply put, yes. Whether your online signature is your name, your initials, or something else, you can add it to digital documents using an e-sign tool — no more printing, signing, and mailing signed paper back to the sender. Just use your electronic signature to keep work moving along.

Follow these simple steps to create an electronic signature and add it to an e-sign document:

  1. In the email you received from the sender of the e-sign document, click the link labeled Click here to review and sign.
  2. In the document that needs your signature, click on the prompt Click here to sign.
  3. A pop-up window will open so you can create your electronic signature in the signature field.
  4. You can type your name, sign with the computer's mouse, upload an image of your signature, or use your finger or stylus if you have a touchscreen device.
  5. Click Apply to add your signature to the document.
  6. Select Click to Sign at the bottom to complete your e-signature.

There are many instances in which you’ll either have to use an online signature or you’ll see one used, such as:

Electronic signatures are comparable to a pen-and-paper wet signature. It’s important to note that for more serious or confidential matters, you may be required to submit a secondary form of identification to ensure a level of security — but this is generally done at the discretion of the contract provider.

How to use your signature in the Adobe Fill & Sign tool.

Adding your signature to any documents can be simply done using the Adobe Fill & Sign tool. Here’s what you need to do if you want to upload your signature and sign your first document.

  1. Upload your document into the tool. You can do this by clicking the Select a file button and following the on-screen prompts, or dragging and dropping a file from your system’s navigation screen.
  2. Sign into your account. After verification, you’ll be able to customize your document of choice.
  3. Add your signature. Using the tools in the Sign panel, add a signature block anywhere your document needs one. Click into that block, and type, draw or upload your signature.
  4. Finalize your document. Click Next and opt to download or share your form using Adobe’s PDF share link.

Does a signature have to be legible?

With so many questions around signatures, such as: Can your signature be anything? or Does a signature have to be cursive?, many wonder if your signature has to be legible to be legal — no matter what it looks like.

The National Notary Association (NNA) has noted that there are no laws that indicate that a signature must be legible to be legal, at least not at the time of this publication. This means that you have the freedom to make your signature just as you want it to be.

Best signature practices include:

Put your online signature to use

Electronic signatures are becoming more common as many industries continue to “go virtual.” From property sales to transfer of goods and services, we’re seeing online signatures appear as one of the top options to confirm your transaction.

Since electronic signatures are as valid as wet signatures, why not enjoy the convenience of digital documents and online signing? You won’t have to reference paperwork later on, and you can save a lot of time on sharing documents back and forth.

Find out more about everything that’s possible with Adobe Acrobat Sign today.