The Essential Guide to Online Signatures, Part IV: The Graphical Signature

Welcome to the fourth and final post in our Essential Guide to Online Signatures series. So far we’ve reviewed the online signing process and talked about the differences between electronic and digital signatures. This final post examines one final signature that is a part of the online signing process – a graphical signature.

For the sake of comparison, let’s recap from our previous articles. Electronic signatures are designed for internal processes and audit purposes and are primarily used by FDA regulated organizations, while digital signatures are often deployed for external business transactions and require an authentication process. So what is a graphical signature and why do we use it?

What is a graphical signature?

While there are ISO standards and government regulations that define digital and electronic signatures, graphical signatures are not required to comply with such standards. Think of this signature as the graphical representation of your own wet signature. Unlike the complex processes underlining electronic and digital signatures, graphical signatures are pretty straightforward; you can either draw your signature using your computer mouse or touchpad or simply type your name in a selected font. Once created, a graphical signature can be added to any document along with other annotations in a freeform text (e.g. name, title etc.)

What are graphical signatures used for?

Because graphical signatures do not comply with any standards or regulations, the authenticity of the signature is based on face value, therefore graphical signatures should not be deployed in a legally binding scenario, because the authenticity and integrity may not hold up in a court system.

Drawing a comparison to the traditional paper-based signing process, using a graphical signature is like an individual signing a document without a notary. Therefore, the use of graphical signatures is normally designed for internal purposes that do not involve binding transactions and don’t require a formal audit trail. For example, if you need to sign an employee vacation permission slip, timesheet and other types of internal documents, you won’t need the level of authentication of either electronic or digital signatures.

Who uses graphical signatures?

Graphical signatures can be deployed by any organization, regardless of its size or industry and can be used with electronic document management systems. The purpose of the graphical signature is to streamline the signing process. graphical signatures are embedded into documents regardless of its format (Word, PDF and even a scanned image). To ensure that the signing process runs smoothly, our product GCI Power Tools for Documents enables users to select, convert and sign documents residing in their OpenText Content Server repository.

If you are using OpenText Content Server and are looking for ways to streamline your signing processes, feel free to reach out.

You want to learn more about the differences between electronic, digital and graphical signatures? Download our whitepaper today!