Digital vs. Electronic Signature: Your 2024 Cheat Sheet

digital vs. electronic signature

Although it’s a fairly common practice to sign documents online or digitally, a vast majority of the population still confuses digital signatures with electronic ones, thinking they are one and the same. At first glance, these two types of signatures may seem similar, for they pretty much serve the same purpose, but these two are entirely different from one another.

So what is the difference between digital vs. electronic signatures? When do you use one, and when do you use the other? Let’s explore.

Digital vs. Electronic Signature: Which one is better?

Now that you know the difference between digital vs. electronic signatures, you might wonder which one is better?

In terms of safety and security measures, digital signatures win by a mile. In today’s current climate, where everyone is vulnerable to cyberattacks and breaches, using digital signatures gives you peace of mind as it makes any attempts of tampering and forgery virtually impossible.

However, in terms of accessibility, an electronic signature proves to be more accessible. Plenty of online platforms let you create an electronic signature for free. In fact, you can even affix electronic signatures in programs you already own, such as Microsoft Word or Google Docs. 

If you have just adopted a more digital environment in your organization, using an electronic signature for your business is ideal. However, if you constantly deal with highly-sensitive and extremely confidential information or documents, the best way to go about document signing is to use digital signatures.

Government agencies, for instance, require the use of digital signatures when signing digital forms and other important documents to ensure the safety and privacy of your data. On the other hand, many businesses still widely use electronic signatures for their common transactions such as contract signing, etc.

It’s hard to determine which one is superior to the other because it entirely depends on the user. To know which one is the best type of signature for you, you need to examine your needs and requirements first. Do you need that extra layer of protection, or are electronic signatures’ safety measures sufficient for the type of documents you are handling?

You also have to take into account the costs involved as well as the ease of use. How much does it cost to get a digital vs. electronic signature? Can your clients or partners easily sign the documents using your preferred signature type? These are the factors that you need to look into.

digital vs. electronic signature

What Is an Electronic Signature?

As the name suggests, an electronic signature, better known as esignature, is a type of signature you use to sign digital documents or files. An electronic signature can be a digital copy or image of your written signature. It can also be a set of unique characters that you draw or type.

An electronic signature allows a more simplified document signing process. There’s no need to print the documents and then mail them off to the signees when you adopt this method. Signing can be as easy as a few taps of a button, and sharing documents can be done in seconds with just a few clicks. There are many advantages to this modern, paperless approach to document signing. Not only is it safe and quick, but it is also very cost-effective and easy to use. 

Essentially, the process of signing documents is pretty similar to a paper-based approach, except that you do everything on your computer.

See also: Are Electronic Signatures Legal? 1 Easy Way to Find Out

digital vs. electronic signature

What Is a Digital Signature?

Now, let’s identify the main differences between digital vs. electronic signatures. To the untrained eye, they do seem very similar to one another. In fact, many people refer to electronic signatures as digital signatures and vice versa. But here’s one defining difference between digital vs. electronic signatures: the security feature.

To put it quite simply, digital signatures offer better document security and signer authenticity than electronic signatures. The former has an extra layer of security and protection to ensure that your documents do not get mishandled and that your signatures are not forged.

There is a whole lot of science and technology that come into play in terms of digital signature. Many digital signature platforms use cryptographic technology known as public key infrastructure (PKI) to help identify users. Digital signatures also possess a unique set of signing keys.

Final Thoughts

Times have indeed changed. Not too long ago, organizations still needed to go through the long and tedious document signing process. You still had to print out multiple copies of your files and send them to the other concerned parties. These days, you can accomplish any document-signing task in a matter of minutes.

You can now take advantage of tools that simplify your document management process. Sign up for a free account today and experience Fill for effortless signing. 

Andria Pacina

Andria is a seasoned content writer, specializing in document management solutions and HIPAA compliance, providing valuable insights for businesses and professionals alike.

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