Digitally signing Word documents ensures their authenticity and integrity. It allows you to verify the identity of the signer and prevent unauthorized changes. This guide will walk you through the steps to digitally sign Word documents on Windows.
Why Digitally Sign Word Documents
Here are some key reasons to digitally sign your Word documents:
- Legal Validity: Digitally signed Word documents can serve as legally valid evidence similar to wet ink signatures as per e-signature laws.
- Security: Digital signatures provide cryptographic proof that the document originated from the signer and has not been tampered with.
- Accountability: They uniquely identify the signer, ensuring non-repudiation. The signer cannot later deny having signed the document.
- Convenience: Signing documents digitally eliminates the need for printing, scanning, faxing and couriering documents.
Before you digitally sign a Word document, ensure:
- You have a digital certificate from a trusted Certificate Authority installed on your computer.
- Macro settings in Word are enabled to allow running VBA signing code.
Add a Visible Digital Signature
Follow these steps to add a visible digital signature line in Word:
- Open the Word document. Place the cursor where you want the signature.
- Go to the Insert tab.
- Click Signature Line and select Microsoft Office Signature Line.
- Enter signer details in the Signature Setup box and click OK.
- Double-click the inserted signature line.
- Select the appropriate digital certificate and click Sign to apply the signature.
This inserts a visible signature line with the signer’s name and details.
Add an Invisible Digital Signature
To add a digital signature without inserting a visible signature line:
- Open the Word document.
- Go to the File tab and click Info.
- Click Protect Document > Add a Digital Signature > Sign.
- Select the certificate and click Sign.
This inserts an invisible digital signature to the document.
Verify Digital Signatures
To verify if a Word document has been digitally signed:
- Open the document.
- Check if there is a Signatures button at the bottom.
- Click it to view signature details and verify their validity.
Invalid or altered digital signatures are clearly indicated.
Remove or Delete Digital Signatures
To remove a digital signature:
- Select the inserted signature line.
- Right click and select Remove Signature.
- Click Yes to confirm removal.
Similarly, you can delete invisible signatures by going to File > Info > Remove Signature.
Digitally signing Word documents assure recipients about the authenticity of the document and the signer’s identity. It improves document security and provides legal validity. With the widespread adoption of paperless workflows, integrating digital signatures into your Word documents is vital.