Obtain a written signature


Obtaining a physical signature is sometimes required. It could be for legal or compliance requirements, policy positions, or simply because one or both parties are more comfortable with signatures in a physical format.

The Adobe Acrobat Sign written signature workflow supports obtaining physical signatures while ensuring proper access control, maintaining the quality and clarity of the final document, and leveraging the benefits of electronic processing and auditing.

Sending an agreement for written signatures

Sending an agreement to collect a physically written signature only requires that the sender select the Written option in the Signature Type section of the Options panel.

Note that this option is only visible when both Electronic and Written signature types are enabled for the group. Otherwise, the enabled signature type is used, and the option to select one is hidden from view.

Administrators of the account or group can set the default value to Written if the dominant signature type is anticipated to be in written form. (See Configuration Options)

Agreements send with a Written signature type require all recipients to sign in a written format.

Select the Signature Type as Written


There is no option for the sender to convert the agreement to an electronic signature workflow after the agreement is sent. Nor is there an option for the recipient to convert their signature to an electronic signature type.

The written signature experience for signers

For recipients, the Written signature workflow closely resembles the Electronic workflow up to the point that they have to print off the document to apply their signature:

  • The recipient is notified via email with an Open and print link to the document.
  • When the link is selected, the recipient is presented first with a three-step summary of the signature process:
Steps for written signature

  • The recipient can fill in any form fields that are requested/required on the agreement in the electronic experience.
  • When ready, the recipient clicks the Next button at the bottom of the page to advance to the download, print, and sign instructions:
Download the agreement


  • The recipient clicks the Download button to download the document (complete with any field content entered electronically).
  • The recipient opens and prints the downloaded PDF.
  • The recipient physically signs the printed agreement.
  • The signed agreement then must be scanned back into digital form.
    • Acrobat Sign accepts the file back in any normally accepted format (PDF, JPG, GIF, TIF, BMP).
    • Acrobat Sign only accepts one file. If there are multiple images, they must be concatenated into one file.
  • A new email is sent to the recipient requesting they upload the signed document (email subject: Please upload {Agreement Name}). A link is provided to open the Upload to submit interface.
    • Recipients can also click the link in the original Open and print email to open the Upload interface:
Upload to submit the agreement


  • Clicking the Upload to submit button opens a browsing window for the recipient to find and select the signed agreement file on the local system.
  • Once the file is selected, the file uploads to Acrobat Sign and the recipient is done.
  • If there are subsequent recipients, the agreement progresses to the next. Otherwise, the agreement completes.

Allowing recipients to Convert their signature from the Electronic to the Written signature type

Customers that do not require an electronic signature type, and would like to overcome any customer skepticism of the electronic format, can permit recipients to convert the signature type from electronic to the written style.

When this conversion is enabled, recipients see an option to Print, sign and upload in the Options menu on the e-sign page.

Option menu to convert to a written signature


Note that in multi-recipient agreements, once a recipient converts their signature type to the written style, all form fields in the agreement will be removed. Subsequent signers will not have form fields to populate, except their signature fields which populate at the bottom of the page as a signature block field.

Best Practices and Considerations

Accounts that have Users in Multiple Groups enabled are strongly encouraged to identify their workflows that require a written signature and isolate them in their own group. This allows greater application of default values that limit the number of configurable options on the Send page, streamlining the sending process and avoiding configuration errors.

If you enable written signatures through any options, you should consider enabling Upload a Signed Document in the event that a recipient mails the document back to you.



Creating agreements requesting a written signature is available for enterprise license plans only through the Allowed signature types controls.

Team and individual licensed customers can enable the Allow signers to print, place written signatures, and upload the agreement back to Acrobat Sign instead of e-signing it option to permit written signatures to be created by the recipient.

There are three related settings that should be considered when configuring written signature options:

Allow the Written signature type for senders

To allow your senders to configure agreements with a written signature type:

  1. Navigate to Account Settings > Send Settings
  2. Scroll down to Allowed Signature Types
  3. Check the option to Allow senders to send documents for Written signature
  4. Click Save to commit the change

Define the Written signature type as the default for new agreements

If the default signature type is defined as Written, all new agreements created in the group are configured for a written signature.

If the Electronic signature option is also enabled, the sender can change the signature type when configuring the agreement.

Allow senders to select a written signature type


If only one signature type is enabled for the group, then the option to select a signature type is hidden on the Send page. Both options must be enabled for the option to be exposed and selectable for senders.

Enable recipients to convert to a Written signature

The option to allow recipients to convert to a written signature is a useful tool if you encounter signer skepticism of the electronic signature process.

  1. Navigate to Account Settings > Signature Preferences.
  2. Scroll down to Additional Settings.
  3. Check the option to Allow signers to print, place written signatures, and upload the agreement back to Acrobat Sign instead of e-signing it.
  4. Save to commit the change.
Allow recipients to convert to a written signature type


The option to allow recipients to convert to a written signature type is not dependent on the option to allow written signatures when sending new agreements.

Enable Written signatures when Limited Document Visibility is enabled

If you are using Limited Document Visibility (LDV) workflows, and you need to accommodate the option for written signature types, you must explicitly enable Written signatures within the scope of LDV.

If you do not, the option to send agreements with a Written signature type is hidden on the Send page and can not be configured by the sender.

  1. Navigate to Account Settings > Global Settings (Group Settings when configured at the group level).
  2. Scroll down to Limited Document Visibility.
  3. Check the option to Allow sending for written signature. Recipients will always see all the pages when required to use written signature
  4. Save to commit the change.
Allow written signatures in limited document visibility workflows


As the setting asserts, any agreement sent using both Limited Document Visibility and the Written signature type ignores the LDV workflow and presents the entire document for the recipient to view.


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