Let's say Bob receives a contract on the computer (probably as a PDF or scanned image). The contract requires Bob's signature.

Would the contract be considered signed if Bob uses a photo editing program and draws his name into the signature line?

What if Bob had written his signature, then scanned it into the computer and then copied and pasted it onto the signature line of the contract? What if Bob reused the same scanned signature for all his contracts he has digital formats of? If this is allowed it almost seems pointless to have a signature, as if another person scanned scanned Bob's signature and copy/pasted it onto a contract it would be considered signed.

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    This concern is one of the reasons why digital signatures usually include a hash of the document being signed encrypted with a private key. Then the signature can be verified using the public key of the signer. Apr 19, 2016 at 10:50
  • related: law.stackexchange.com/questions/1994/… Apr 19, 2016 at 11:20

1 Answer 1


First of all, a contract is valid without a signature and even without being in writing; all that is needed is consent by the parties.

Therefore, the signature is merely evidence of that consent and is only relevant if a dispute arises over the general consent or the particular terms that were consented to. A digital signature would make it harder for Bob to argue that those were not the terms he signed but if I have Bob's signature on them then the onus of proving he didn't sign rests with Bob, I don't have to prove he did.

All of the methods you suggest are valid as would an email saying "Got the contract. I agree. Bob."

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    To amplify, when submitting documents to the court I have to sign certifications that certain things are true and that documents are true copies. I do so with a scanned signature. Imagine if I put an altered document in the stack, I was caught, and then argued to the court that I did not really sign the certification that they were true copies. It's all about intent. Did Bob intend to agree to the contract. Apr 19, 2016 at 16:21

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