Signing PDFs


This document provides instructions for Acrobat XI. If you're using Acrobat, see Acrobat Help.

You can sign a document to attest to its contents or approve the document. Based on the intent, you use different types of signatures.

Sign a PDF using your signature

To sign a PDF, you can type, draw, or insert an image of your handwritten signature. You can also add text, such as your name, company, title, or the date. When your document is complete, the signature and text become part of the PDF.

For more information about setting up a digital ID for certificate-based signatures, see Digital IDs.


Complete your edits before you sign. Changes made to the document after it is signed can invalidate the signature.

  1. Open the PDF in Acrobat.

  2. Click Fill & Sign.

    Fill & Sign panel


    If you don't see Fill & Sign in the toolbar, update your Acrobat XI. Click the Help menu in Acrobat and then choose Check for updates. Follow onscreen instructions to download and apply all the available updates.

  3. In the Fill & Sign Tools panel, click Add Text  to add text, such as your name, company, title, or date. Click in the document where you want to add the text and start typing.

  4. In the Fill & Sign Tools panel, click Place Signature.

    The first time you sign, the Place Signature option opens a dialog box to allow you to create or import your signature.


    Note: If you already have a signature, you can just click Place Signature and skip to step 6. To change or clear an existing signature, click the arrow button next to the Place Signature and then choose Change Saved Signature and Clear Saved Signature. 

  5. (First time signing) In the Place Signature dialog box, choose the type of signature you want to place:

    You can choose to type, use a webcam, draw, or import a signature, or sign with a certificate. Acrobat uses that signature on future PDFs you sign.

    Type my signature

    Type your name in the Enter Your Name field. You can choose from a small selection of signature styles; click Change Signature Style to view a different style. When you are satisfied with your signature, click Accept.

    Use a webcam

    The Use Webcam option opens a video frame that helps you capture your signature image using your system webcam. For more information, see Create a Signature for signing a PDF.

    Draw my signature

    Draw your signature in the Draw Your Signature field. When you are satisfied with your signature, click Accept.

    Use an image

    Insert an image of your signature. For more information, see Create a signature for signing a PDF.

    Use a certificate

    Click Next. Follow the onscreen instructions to designate where to place the signature, set its appearance, and save the signed PDF. (Steps 6 and 7 below do not apply to signatures that use a certificate.)

  6. Click in the PDF where you want to place your signature.
  7. To move, resize, or rotate the signature, do one of the following.

    A. Move pointer B. Resize pointer C. Rotate pointer 


    Position the cursor over the signature and drag into position.


    Drag a corner handle to resize.


    Position the cursor over the rotation handle (top-middle handle), when the cursor changes to a circular arrow, drag to rotate the signature.

To learn more about digital signature options, see Validating digital signatures.

Create a signature for signing PDFs

You can create a signature for signing a PDF using a webcam or by drawing it.

Use a webcam

  1. In the Fill & Sign Tools panel, click Place Signature.

  2. Choose Use A Webcam

    The video frame displays live video feed via your system camera.

  3. Sign your name in black ink on a clean, blank sheet of white paper for best results and hold it before the webcam. Click Start Webcam to start capturing the signature image.


    Ensure that your signature rests properly on the blue line in the video display frame.

    Signature capture and display.

    You can adjust the signature clarity by moving back or forth the paper that you hold. On correct positioning of your signature on the blue line, the signature is auto-captured.

  4. Preview the captured signature. When you are satisfied with your signature, click Accept.

Use an image

  1. Sign your name in black ink on a clean, blank sheet of white paper. Sign in the middle of the paper so you don't photograph or scan the edges.

  2. Photograph or scan your signature. If you are taking a picture of your signature, make sure that the page is well lit and that no shadows fall across the signature.

  3. Transfer the photo or scan to your computer. Acrobat accepts JPG, PNG, GIF, BMP, TIFF, and PDF files. Record the file's location so you can find it when signing PDFs.

    You do not need to crop the image. Acrobat imports just the signature if the photo or scan is fairly clean.

  4. In the Fill & Sign Tools panel in Acrobat, choose Place Signature.

  5. Choose Use An Image. Browse and select your signature file, and then click Accept.

    Use a signature image file that you've created.

Fax or email signed PDF

You can send signed documents via fax or email using the Adobe Acrobat Sign service. Acrobat Sign stores a copy in your online account so you can easily access it later. You can log in to Acrobat Sign with your Adobe ID or create an account.

  1. When the document is complete, click Send or Collect Signatures in the Fill and Sign panel.

  2. Click Send via Email or Fax.

  3. When prompted "Your signed document will be uploaded to Acrobat Sign…", click Proceed.

    If you're asked to sign in, sign in with your Adobe ID and password.

  4. When the Acrobat Sign website opens in your browser, fill in the requested fields, and click Deliver.

  5. Follow the onscreen instruction to register and complete sending the document.

Lock document after signing

If you use a digital ID to sign or certify a PDF, you see an option to lock the document after signing.

Note: The Place Signature option helps you create a plain signature, it's not a digital ID.

For information on how to certify or sign a PDF with a digital ID, see the next section below.

Sign a PDF using a digital ID

When you receive a PDF with a signature field added, click the field and Acrobat or Reader displays your default digital ID if it's already added. Else you will see an option to create a new digital ID. Even if you don't have a signature field added, you can use the Sign with Certificate tool to sign the PDF. Follow the steps below.

To certify or sign a PDF with a digital ID:

  1. Click Fill & Sign, and then click Work with Certificates to expand the panel.

    Work with certificates

  2. Click Sign with Certificate. You see a prompt to draw a rectangle. Click Drag New Signature Rectangle.

    Draw a new signature rectangle

  3. Go to the location in the PDF where you want to place the digital ID or signature, and then drag your mouse and draw a rectangle to place the signature.

    The Sign Document dialog box is displayed. The default ID or signature is selected in the Sign As drop-down. If you want to choose another ID, click the drop-down and choose one.

    Sign document with your default digital ID

    Note: To create a new digital ID, choose New ID from the drop-down and follow the steps as described in Create a self-signed Digital ID.

  4. In the Password field, enter the password for the digital ID.

  5. If you want to lock the document after signing, choose the Lock Document After Signing check box.


    Note that the document will be locked for further editing. This is useful when you're the last person or the only one person to sign the document. If you're not sure, save a copy of the PDF before choosing this option and signing.

  6. Click Sign. You may be prompted to save as the document. Choose a different name if you want to keep a copy of the document, and then click Save. The signature is placed in the document.

    Document signed

Recover or reset your digital ID’s password

Unfortunately, you cannot recover or reset the password if you’ve forgotten it. If you created the ID yourself, you can create a new one with the same information that you used for the ID. If you got the ID from a certificate authority, contact the authority for help.

For more information, see Digital IDs.

Get PDFs signed by others using Adobe Acrobat Sign

You can get documents signed by others using Acrobat Sign. Acrobat Sign is an online service that lets users quickly sign documents in a web browser, without requiring a digital ID. The service keeps track of the entire process.

The Acrobat Sign service emails your signers that you'd like them to sign a document. They review and sign the document on the secure Acrobat Sign website. Once signed, both you and your signers receive the signed PDF in email. Acrobat Sign stores the signed document in your account for future reference. For more information, visit

  1. Open the PDF you want to have signed.

  2. Open the Fill & Sign pane (click Fill & Sign on the right side of the toolbar).

  3. Click Send and Collect Signatures to open the panel.

  4. Click Get Other to Sign.

  5. When the message “The document has been uploaded to Acrobat Sign” appears, click Proceed to continue.

    If you're asked to sign in, sign in with your Adobe ID and password.

  6. When the Acrobat Sign website opens in your web browser, follow the onscreen instructions to send the PDF.

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