How to insert your digital signature in Google Docs using the drawing tool or third-party add-ons

woman using stylus on tablet at desk
You can add either a digital or electronic signature to a Google Doc.
  • You can add a signature to a Google Doc with the built-in drawing tool.
  • You can also use an add-on to add signatures to your document, or request them.
  • Add-ons can be safer if they use encryption and have authentication standards.
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Google Docs can be a useful tool when you need to share documents with other people. And it has a built-in feature you can use to add your signature to documents. But you'll find more security if you use an add-on that has encryption and authentication measures.

With that in mind, here's what you need to know to add your signature to Google Docs using either the built-in feature or an add-on.

Electronic signature vs. digital signature

Although they sound similar, there is a significant difference between an electronic signature, or e-signature, and a digital one.

Digital signatures are required to use certain algorithms to generate signatures and can be used as evidence for third parties. So they're secure, due to encryption and authentication standards, and legally enforceable.

Electronic signatures, on the other hand, don't look like actual signatures but are still used to signify an intent to sign. They can be anything that is supposed to represent the person signing, including a symbol or an electronic sound. Electronic signatures are legally binding, but because they lack the encryption required for digital signatures, they are less secure and can be more easily forged.

How to add electronic signature in Google Docs using drawing tool

Be aware that this method creates an electronic signature, not a digital one.

1. Open the Google Doc and place the cursor in the area that requires a signature.

2. Click Insert in the top toolbar.

Screenshot of a Google Doc highlighting the top toolbar
Choose "Insert."

3. Choose Drawing and then + New. The drawing tool will then pop up over the Google Doc.

Screenshot of the drawing menu on a Google Doc
Open the drawing tool to draw your signature.

4. Click the down-caret next to the line tool, which looks like a line with two points at each end.

Screenshot of the pop-up Drawing menu in Google Docs
The line tool has a feature that allows you to free-hand your signature.

5. Choose Scribble.

Screenshot of the Scribble option in the line tool drop-down menu
The Scribble feature lets you draw the signature to be inserted onto the page.

6. Create your signature by clicking into the draw box and dragging the cursor.

7. Click Save and Close to add your signature to the Google Doc.

How to add digital signature in Google Docs using third-party add-ons

You can also add a digital signature to your Google Doc with a third-party add-on, like:

  • DocuSign: This creates a digital signature for your documents, meaning it uses encryption and is legally binding. For free accounts, you can request up to three signatures before a paid account would become necessary.
  • HelloSign: This works similar to the draw tool in Google Docs, but with the benefit of the authentication and encryption of a digital signature. You can get up to three signature requests per month through the free plan, but those wanting a plan suited to multiple users can opt for a paid version.
  • PandaDoc: Signatures through this add-on are encrypted and legally compliant, and PandaDoc offers HIPPA and GDPR compliance options. The free version of this add-on offers unlimited signatures, though there are paid options to access features like templates, document analytics, and custom branding tools.

Here's how to install an add-on and insert a signature from it:

1. Go into your Google Doc's top toolbar and select Add-ons, followed by Get Add-ons.

Screenshot of the Add-ons menu in Google Docs
You can search for add-ons via the Add-ons menu in Google Docs.

2. Use the search bar in the pop-up to find your desired add-on and click to select it.

Screenshot of the Add-ons pop-up window in Google Docs
Search for your desired add-on.

3. Select Install.

Screenshot of the Docusign add-on for Google Docs as seen in the Add-ons pop-up window
Install the add-on to start using it.

4. You may be asked to link your Google account, and give permission to the add-on to access your Google account - if so, connect it and give the add-on permission to access your account.

Screenshot of the connection request page when installing the Docusign add-on for Google Docs
You have to connect your Google account to the add-on for it to work.

5. Once installed, you'll see a confirmation message. Hit Done and close out the add-on pop-up window.

Screenshot of the confirmation message that appears after installing a Google Docs add-on
Click "Done" once the add-on has finished installing to get back to your Google Doc.

6. The add-on should appear in the right sidebar. If not, refresh the page. Then click to open the signature add-on in the sidebar.

Screenshot of a Google Doc once the Docusign add-on has been added
Click to open the sidebar and start using the add-on.

7. Sign into your account associated with your add-on of choice, or create one, as directed.

Screenshot of the sign-in page on the Docusign add-on in Google Docs
You'll need to sign in, or create an account, with most - if not all - signature add-ons for Google Docs.

8. Follow the prompts to sign your document and add other signer or recipient information.

Screenshot of the Docusign add-on showing the Sign option in Google Docs
Follow the directions provided by the add-on to add or create your signature.
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