Google Docs is an excellent tool for creating professional collaborative documents with your remote team and sharing them with clients and customers. Unfortunately, its native digital signing abilities are limited.
If your business needs to be able to sign documents electronically, then you need a professional and convenient method. That’s where digital signature add-ons for Google Docs come in handy and, in most cases, are easy to use.
The safest and most convenient way to add signatures to Google Docs is by using one of the many professional add-ons available. There are two ways to get these add-ons. The easiest is from the Google Marketplace. Alternatively, you can get them directly from the add-on developers’ websites.
Here are some notable Digital Signature Add-ons for Google Docs:
AirSlate allows you to sign documents from anywhere, without having to worry about printing them out and signing them by hand. The key to airSlate success is that their eSignature module is part of an entire workflow automation process. That means the way to get your signature onto a Google Doc with airSlate is simple.
All you need to do is run the Signature Wizard and type (yes, type) your name into the wizard. Your signature will appear in a cursive font like you'd signed it by hand. If you prefer something more personalized you can also upload your personal signature. Even that can be done by snapping a photo of your signature and then uploading it via airSlate.
AirSlate signatures are legally binding in compliance with the eSign Act. That means you can use it freely for business contracts, wills, or any other official documentation. Incidentally, you can configure airSlate to automatically insert your signature into any valid field. That's just part of how it fits into the overall automation process.
Visit the airSlate website to learn more.
If you're looking for a Cloud-based electronic signature solution, DocuSign might be perfect. More than 100 million users use this popular digital signing service worldwide to sign documents and send them back through email or fax.
It's secure, reliable, cost-effective, and fast—a perfect fit for busy offices that need to keep up with their pace of business. You’ll be specifically looking for DocuSign for Google Docs, a free add-on.
You can send any document in your Gmail, Google Sheets, or Google Drive into DocuSign with just one click. The document will be sent to the recipient and tracked online with real-time notifications.
DocuSign is available starting from $10 (with a 30-day free trial). However, if you’re willing to work with the tool on their website, they offer a free signing service. Naturally, the more convenient method is to use the Google Doc add-on.
Install the DocuSign Add-on directly from their website.
Signable for Google Docs is a cloud-based service that enables anyone to sign and edit documents online, right within Google Docs. The tool allows you to create and send legally binding agreements that comply with Europe’s eIDAS and the US eSign Act.
You’ll need to install it from the Google Add-ons marketplace to use Signable. Just head to the Marketplace, search for “Signable,” and click the icon that appears. Once installed, you can access the add-on via “Add-ons” on your Google Doc menu bar.
Unfortunately, Signable isn’t free to use, but it provides a wide range of plans suitable for individuals and businesses. If you only need the odd document signed, you can go with their ad-hoc plan, which charges one euro per signed document.
Install the Signable Add-on from Google Marketplace.
The signNOW for Google Docs integration is a great new tool in the legal market. It allows users to sign a document directly from within their web browser without downloading any additional software or apps.
With signNOW for Google Docs, you can share files with other users by simply sending them an email link that they can use to view or edit the document in real-time. Despite this sharing, you will retain control over how people view your documents.
The integrated system is easy to use. All you need is to install the add-on to Google Docs. Once your document is ready for sending, simply select the “Send with SignNOW” option from the GDOC navigation bar and fill in the recipient’s email address.
signNOW is also a fully commercial product, but it doesn't price according to document volume. Instead, the plans are feature-limited. Prices start at $8/mo/user, and that’s sufficient for most smaller businesses.
Get signNOW Add-on for Google Docs from their website.
5. PandaDoc for Google Docs
PandaDoc for Google Docs is a free tool that allows you to create and manage your documents directly from Google Drive. The Google Docs add-on supports the use of templates and most other features found in the app or web-based version of PandaDoc.
Aside from signing and sending, the add-on also lets you track what happens to your sent documents. For example, if the recipient opened the document or how much time they spent viewing it.
The service is SOC 2 Type 2 certified and hosted on highly secure Amazon AWS servers. That hosting is especially important for those who need compliance with European data protection laws for their documentation.
The free plan does not limit the number of documents you can sign. However, paid plans get many more features like CRM and Zapier integration, drag-and-drop editing, analytics, and better support. Paid PandaDoc plans start at $19/user/month.
Grab the PandaDoc Add-on for Google Docs from the Google Marketplace.
HelloSign for Google Docs is an eSignature solution that integrates with the Google Apps suite. The’s even an API that allows developers to the HelloSign service into their applications. It’s an excellent way to get your team on board with Google Docs.
You can use it not only for signing and annotating documents but also for tracking the status of specific tasks or projects within Gmail or Outlook and creating reminders about what needs doing next time you see each other face-to-face.
Installation is easy – just click a button from the marketplace, and you can get started. Documents get sent in PDF, so you don't have to worry about compatibility issues or data loss during transmission.
Sadly, there’s no free version, but all paid plans on HelloSign allow you to sign an unlimited number of documents. Prices for HelloSign start at $15/mo for a single user. That includes templates, an audit trail, and access to their mobile app.
Get HelloSign from the Google Marketplace.
What is a Digital Signature?
A digital signature is a way to verify that an authorized person issues a document. It’s similar to signing a piece of paper in person, except this is in the digital world. The essential thing to understand about digital signatures is that it isn’t as simple as appending an image to a document.
For example, you cannot simply drop a scanned image of your signature into a document and consider it “digitally signed.”
How Digital Signatures Work
Digital signatures ensure that no unauthorized changes to documents are possible once the signature is in place. The process works by creating a unique hash of the document and encrypting it using the sender's private key.
Each generated hash is unique and will change if there are any amendments to the original document. Once the system completes the hashing process, the document is “digitally signed.” You can then send it to a recipient.
When the recipient gets the document, their system will generate another hash of the digital copy. This hash uses the sender's public key to decrypt the sender's hash that came along with the document. Matching hashes serve as proof that the document is original and unmodified.
Why You Should Digitally Sign Your Google Docs?
If you’re a business owner, there are many reasons why you should sign your documents digitally. First, however, there’s a myth that needs to be dispelled. Just because something is convenient doesn’t mean it’s less secure than good old pen and paper.
Here are some of the top reasons why you should switch to digital signatures;
It’s Faster and More Convenient
The most apparent reason is efficiency. You can get things done faster and more efficiently by signing documents electronically, rather than having to print them out and fax them back or mail them in. You can also sign and deliver documents from anywhere, even between countries.
Digital Signatures Are Safer
When you sign documents electronically, you know that there will be no mistakes made when it comes time for filing with a court or other entity. You also won’t have to worry about anyone altering the document without your permission.
It also reduces the risk of losing documents or having them get lost in transit because there's no physical paper copy involved; your signature is stored on the cloud instead.
They Establish Trust
The digital space today also supports commercial activities, and digital signatures can be a way of building trust between parties involved in transactions. For example, the buying and selling of goods, signing contracts or sharing confidential information.
Digital Signatures are Widely Accepted
A digital signature has the same legal value as a handwritten signature. Companies and individuals must adhere to specific rules when signing documents digitally. Because of these governing regulations, digital signatures are often legally binding.
Improves the Customer Experience
Instead of having customers wait for contracts or proposals as they get sent via snail mail, digitally signed versions will arrive much faster. Imagine having a business discussion one day and having a signed contract settled within moments of that conversation. It streamlines the customer experience in so many ways.
While Google Docs doesn’t have a dedicated digital signature feature yet, there are plenty of alternatives. All of the solutions I’ve outlined work well with Google Docs and each has its own set of features to make signing docs easier.
For example, if you need someone to sign a document on their mobile device at any time, PandaDoc and HelloSign would be your best choices. The bottom line is that no matter which solution above works best for your needs, you can easily integrate it into Google Docs.