In the vast majority of cases, electronic signatures are far superior to handwritten signatures. They are free and easy to create, cut down on approval times, and are fully legally binding, often more so than traditional signatures because they involve a full email “paper trail.”
Creating a free electronic signature is a simple process. You can use a well-known document editor like Microsoft Word or a PDF reader like Adobe Acrobat. Alternatively, dedicated e-signature platforms provide an array of tools for streamlining your whole document workflow. Typical features include document tracking, online editing, storage, and collaborative workflows.
Even better, many advanced apps are completely free to use. For example, PandaDoc is one of the market leaders and offers a long-term free plan with unlimited signatures and document uploads.
In this post, we’ll outline several ways to create a free electronic signature. We’ll also review some of the top providers currently on the market.
What Are the Reasons for Creating a Free Electronic Signature?
Electronic signatures have become commonplace over the last several years, especially in the corporate world. There are many reasons that individuals and organizations have made the transition from pen-and-ink signatures to digital alternatives.
Perhaps the most pervasive reason is that electronic signatures are easier and safer to use. Digitally signing a document takes seconds. Moreover, modern apps make it possible to sign on the go, from a smartphone or tablet. In terms of legality, electronic signatures are enforceable in most jurisdictions. Often, they are safer to use than traditional signatures because they can be traced back to the signer easily.
Must-Have Features in a Free E-Signature Platform: An Overview
There are lots of providers to choose from when it comes to picking an e-signature platform. However, you can filter out apps that don’t meet your needs by keeping some simple criteria in mind.
The following features are essential in an e-signature platform:
- Easy-to-use e-signing, ideally in the form of drag-and-drop signature fields.
- Unlimited signing and document uploads or, at the very least, caps that won’t prevent you from approving your expected monthly volume of documents.
- Advanced features if you decide to upgrade. These might include analytics, document editing, and automation tools.
Remember that not all platforms offer the same level of functionality on free plans. There are often significant differences between providers. And making the wrong decision early in the process can result in substantial amounts of wasted time further down the line.
A Guide to Free E-Signature Platforms
Individuals on the lookout for a free e-signature platform are in luck—there are dozens of excellent options to choose from. Here are four top picks
- PandaDoc – PandaDoc offers the best free plan that we’ve come across. Unlike its competitors, PandaDoc doesn’t place a cap on the number of signature requests that free users can make. The plan also includes access to the mobile app and payment integrations. If you decide to upgrade, paid subscriptions provide access to a host of document management features, including analytics, document editing, pre-written templates, and more.
- SmallPDF – SmallPDF provides a free online tool where you can upload and sign a limited number of documents. You can also add fields and request signatures, although the amount of requests you can make is capped. The paid subscription, one of the lowest-priced we’ve come across, is perfect for individuals.
- CocoSign – CocoSign hosts a free online generator that you can use to make a free electronic signature, either by drawing or typing. You can also upload a PDF document to sign for free. You can sign up to a free plan that allows you to send three signature requests per month.
DocuSign – DocuSign is one of the market leaders in the electronic signature space. The free plan, which you’ll need to create an account for, lets you upload and sign an unlimited number of documents. You cannot send any signature requests with the free DocuSign package.