Signature Stamps in PDF documents

Did you know you can insert your signature into a PDF document if you have Adobe Acrobat or Reader DC or Nuance PowerPDF? It takes a few steps to go from a scanned image of your physical signature to an electronic stamp, so first follow these handy steps from LPMT and the Paperless Chase that walk you through the process in Adobe’s products. The process for Nuance’s product is very similar – create a new stamp and upload your transparent signature, then stamp away! The problem is that sometimes the signature doesn’t appear for some who open the document, most often when you are adding it to a fillable PDF form. To remedy that there are a few options.

In Adobe Acrobat DC there are a few ways to ensure the signature stays put:

1.) Once you have applied the signature stamp and saved the document, print the document to PDF. The biggest downside to this method is that any and all hyperlinks will be rendered plain text.

2.) Flatten the file in Adobe. This will only be an option for Adobe Acrobat (not the free Reader) and while the script available for download from this post on the Acrolaw blog by Rick Borstein was written for Acrobat X it will work in DC. Flattening takes the additional layers (comments, stamps, markup, form fields, etc.) and makes them a permanent part of the document. The script is much easier than the instructions, trust me!

In Nuance PowerPDF Advanced try this:

1.) To flatten a document in Nuance PowerPDF go to “Advanced Processing” in the toolbar tab then choose “Flatten File”. A dialog box will appear with options you can toggle on or off via checkboxes. Make sure the checkbox next to “Stamp” is selected and click “ok”. You signature stamp is now a permanent part of the document.

Acrobat DC fill and sign and Nuance PowerPDF’s Sign Document both make it possible to create a self-signed digital ID and customize them to use your transparent signature. This will add additional protections such as locking the document against editing.


About Catherine Reach

Catherine Sanders Reach is the Director of Law Practice Management & Technology at the Chicago Bar Association.