How to Add (or Remove) a Digital Signature in Microsoft Office Files

Last Updated: Feb 7, 2024 by

In today’s digital world, electronic signatures have become increasingly popular for signing documents. However, there is still a need for more secure and legally binding signatures, which is where digital signatures come in.

But what exactly is a digital signature, and how does it differ from an electronic signature? In this article, we’ll explore the differences between the two and guide you through the process of adding or removing a digital signature in Microsoft Office files.

Digital vs Electronic Signature: What’s the Difference?

Electronic Signatures

An electronic signature is a digital representation of a person’s handwritten signature. It can be created using a variety of methods, such as typing a name, drawing a signature on a touch screen, or using a stylus on a tablet.

Electronic signatures are commonly used for signing documents such as contracts, agreements, and forms. They are legally binding and are recognized as a valid form of signature in most countries.

Digital Signatures

A digital signature, on the other hand, is a more secure and advanced form of electronic signature. It is created using a digital certificate, which is issued by a trusted certificate authority (CA).

Digital signatures use a mathematical algorithm to create a unique code, known as a hash, that is specific to the document being signed. This hash is then encrypted using the signer’s private key, which can only be accessed by the signer.

When the document is opened, the digital signature is verified using the signer’s public key, which is available to anyone. If the hash matches the one created by the signer, the signature is considered valid and the document has not been tampered with.

How to Add a Digital Signature in Microsoft Office Files

Adding a digital signature to a Microsoft Office file is a simple process that can be done in just a few steps.

Step 1: Obtain a Digital Certificate

Before you can add a digital signature to a Microsoft Office file, you will need to obtain a digital certificate from a trusted certificate authority. This certificate will contain your public and private keys, which are necessary for creating and verifying digital signatures.

There are many certificate authorities to choose from, such as DigiCert, Comodo, and GlobalSign. You can purchase a digital certificate from these providers or from your IT department if your organization has its own certificate authority.

Step 2: Prepare the Document

Before adding a digital signature, make sure the document is finalized and ready to be signed. Any changes made to the document after the signature is added will invalidate the signature.

Step 3: Add the Signature Line

In Microsoft Office, you can add a signature line to your document by going to the “Insert” tab and selecting “Signature Line” from the “Text” group. This will add a signature line to the document, which will include the name of the signer and the date the document was signed.

Step 4: Sign the Document

Once the signature line has been added, you can sign the document by clicking on the line and selecting “Sign” from the pop-up menu. This will open the “Sign” window, where you can select your digital certificate and add your digital signature.

Step 5: Save the Document

After signing the document, make sure to save it to preserve the digital signature. The signature will be embedded in the document and can be verified by anyone who opens it.

How to Remove a Digital Signature from Microsoft Office Files

If you need to remove a digital signature from a Microsoft Office file, you can do so by following these steps:

Step 1: Open the Document

Open the document that contains the digital signature you want to remove.

Step 2: Click on the Signature Line

Click on the signature line to select it. This will bring up the “Sign” window.

Step 3: Click on “Remove Signature”

In the “Sign” window, click on “Remove Signature” to remove the digital signature from the document.

Step 4: Save the Document

After removing the signature, make sure to save the document to preserve the changes.

How to Verify the Digital Signature and the SHA256 Hash

To verify the digital signature and the SHA256 hash of a Microsoft Office file, follow these steps:

Step 1: Open the Document

Open the document that contains the digital signature you want to verify.

Step 2: Click on the Signature Line

Click on the signature line to select it. This will bring up the “Sign” window.

Step 3: Click on “View Signatures”

In the “Sign” window, click on “View Signatures” to view the details of the digital signature.

Step 4: Verify the Signature

In the “Signature Details” window, you can verify the signer’s name, the date the document was signed, and the SHA256 hash of the document. You can also view the certificate used to create the digital signature.

Conclusion

Digital signatures offer a more secure and legally binding way to sign documents compared to electronic signatures. By following the steps outlined in this article, you can easily add or remove a digital signature in Microsoft Office files.

Remember to always obtain a digital certificate from a trusted certificate authority and to save the document after adding or removing a digital signature. This will ensure that the signature is valid and can be verified by anyone who opens the document.

With the rise of remote work and digital transactions, digital signatures are becoming increasingly important. By understanding how to use them in Microsoft Office files, you can ensure the security and legality of your digital documents.

Gulrukh Ch

About the Author: Gulrukh Ch

Gulrukh Chaudhary, an accomplished digital marketer and technology writer with a passion for exploring the frontiers of innovation. Armed with a Master's degree in Information Technology, Gulrukh seamlessly blends her technical prowess with her creative flair, resulting in captivating insights into the world of emerging technologies. Discover more about her on her LinkedIn profile.