The Evolution of Signatures

History of electronic signaturesA signature is a very powerful thing. Since the beginning, the signature has been a physical representation of a person’s word, or promise, to follow through with specific actions. The signature has evolved quite a bit, but even in these modern times, when a signature can be given through email or on a website, it still stands for a promise given from one person or company to another.


In 1776, when John Hancock signed the Declaration of Independence, he did so with a quill pen and ink. One of the first methods of actually writing a signature, ink was used to allow individuals to give their promise, in writing, to others. Even today, signatures created with an ink and quill pen are used to study the characteristics and traits of the individuals who signed. In times like these, when a signature was needed, an individual had to be in person and most of the time, witnesses were present to view the signing and sometimes were called on to verify a signature and it’s authenticity.


Those who signed with pen, whether it was felt tip or ball point, were still giving a promise using their name, and still signing in person and sometimes in the presence of a witness. While the method is without a doubt more convenient and easier than ink and a quill pen, individuals are still required to be present in order to sign their names to documents and paperwork.

Email Signatures

As email became more and more popular, email signatures were created. These are a little different from a regular signature, as the purpose of email signatures are not to seal a promise, but simply to provide information about the sender. Email signatures are commonly used to include business information like website URLs, contact phone numbers, and blog URLs. Email signatures are convenient and a good way to help promote websites and other information.

Fax Signatures

With the convenience of the fax machines, providing signatures became even easier. Individuals could fax paperwork to the recipient, who could then sign it, and fax it back. This was a serious advance in business and other industries, because individuals could sign their names to documents without being present. However, there are drawbacks with faxed signatures, especially for businesses and companies trying to go green. The waste of paper and delay are disadvantages, although faxes are certainly more convenient than having to meet in person or have papers mailed physically to the recipient.


The most convenient method of signing documents these days is the e-signature. Unlike faxes, there is no wasted paper in order for an individual to sign a document with an e-signature. These documents can be sent via email and signed as a PDF document. The greatest thing about e-signatures is that they are just as legally binding as a traditional signature, making them convenient for business use and other important documents and paperwork that must be signed. They’re even revolutionizing the healthcare industry.

Overall, the evolution of signatures has been a long one, and the huge advances made have created safer, easier and more convenient methods of signing a document, or providing a promise.

Comments are closed.