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How to Write a Signature: Top Tips to Get it Right Every Time You Sign

Whether you’re signing a new job contract or opening a bank account, you’ve got to sign your name. Don’t panic, here’s how to write a signature.
by Vanessa Gibbs | Feb 6 2024
write a signature

There are times in life when a simple squiggle of your name has so much meaning. Perhaps you’re signing a contract for your dream job, dream home, or dream car.

Even when signing less exciting documents, like opening a bank account, getting a new passport, or even just signing for a parcel, you want your signature to be one you love. After all, ideally, you won’t be changing it too often.

Plus, in the world of work, signatures are like email addresses or outfit choices, you want it to be professional and give off the right impression to your boss or clients.

To help, we’ve rounded up the best advice on how to write a signature. Plus, we’ve answered the most common signature questions out there, whether you’re signing something by hand, digitally, or crafting an email signature.

How Do You Write a Signature?

Got a document you need to sign? These are the key things that make a good signature.

1. It’s Unique to You

The point of a signature is usually to say you agree to a document, like a contract, or to verify your identity. Therefore, the idea is your signature should be unique.

You can make your signature unique through the letters you chose to include or the way you write them — or both!

If your name is Jane Cook, for example, you might choose between J Cook or Jane C, and then add some artistic flair to your signature with a large J, swirl on the K, or by underlining your signature.

2. It’s Difficult to Copy

Your signature shouldn’t be easy to copy, so you may want to avoid an easy JC for Jane Cook.

However, these days, your identity is more likely to be verified with your passport or driver’s license than with a signature, but it’s still a good point to bear in mind.

3. It’s Easy to Remember and Replicate

While you want to make your signature difficult to copy, you don’t want to make it so complicated that you forget what your own signature looks like.

You also need to be able to rewrite your signature and make it look the same each time.

And on the same note, you don’t want your signature to be so long that it takes you five minutes every time you need to sign a document.

One or two artistic touches are all it takes to make a unique signature that doesn’t take too much effort on your part.

4. It’s Some Form of Your Name

While there are no real rules on this, your signature should ideally be some form of your name.

It doesn’t have to be your full name, though. You could use:

  • Your initials
  • Your first initial and last name
  • Your first name and last initial
  • Your full name and your middle initial

For example:

  • J. Cook
  • Jane C.
  • J.M. Cook
  • Jane M. Cook

Top tip: Brainstorm a few signature options and practice writing them out until you find one you like, one that you wouldn’t be embarrassed if your boss saw, and one that you can easily replicate.

Do I Need a Signature?

Your signature may not be the thing that identifies you nowadays, but you’ll still find plenty of times when you need to sign something, sometimes just as an acknowledgment that you’d read and agreed to it.

This includes when:

  • Buying a house
  • Renting an apartment
  • Buying a car
  • Starting a new job
  • Getting a new passport
  • Getting a driver’s license
  • Opening a bank account
  • Registering with a new doctor

You may also need to use your signature in less serious situations, like when signing for a parcel. Plus, you never know when an adoring fan might ask for your autograph.

In any of the cases above, it’s better to have a signature you like ready to go, rather than panicking and squiggling something illegible.

Should My Signature be My Full Name?

Your signature doesn’t have to be your full name. In fact, many documents ask for a signature, followed by your full name.

Your signature can be your initials, your first or last name, or some combination.

For example, if your name is Tom Smith, your signature could be Tom Smith, T Smith, or Tom S — it’s up to you!

Some people even include their middle initial — Tom F. Smith, or T. F. Smith, for example.

Does a Signature Have to be Cursive?

Signatures are traditionally written in cursive, but they don’t legally have to be. You can have a more simply written signature or print your name in capital letters. Or you could use some combination, using capital letters for your initials and then cursive for your full last name, for example.

Can I Change My Signature?

The short answer is yes, you can change your signature. There’s nothing legally binding you to use the same signature throughout your life.

However, especially when it comes to important documents like your passport or signing a deed for a house, it makes it much easier to use the same signature so it can be more easily verified.

If you decide to change your signature, you may want to apply for a new passport and driver’s license to get your new signature on them.

Ideally, you’ll want to find one signature you like and use this whenever you need to sign a document.

How to Write an Electronic Signature

Electronic signatures are gaining popularity, especially in the business world.

These types of signatures allow you to sign a document by typing or name or drawing your signature. It makes things quicker — no more printing, hand signing, and scanning.

You can write an electronic signature by:

  • Using e-sign software like DocuSign or PandaDoc.
  • Typing your name or your initials and changing the font.
  • Writing your signature with your mouse or trackpad so it matches your handwritten signature.
  • Uploading a photo of your handwritten signature.

You can then include this signature wherever it’s needed, including in a Word document, Google Doc, or PDF file.

How to Write an Email Signature

Email signatures are a whole different ball game to handwritten signatures. You’re no longer signing an important document, you’re signing off a professional email.

Your email signature shouldn’t include your written signature, and instead, it should include your full name, job title, and the company you work for, at a minimum.

What to Include

Email signatures can include:

  • Your full name
  • Your job title
  • The company you work for
  • Your work phone number
  • Your website
  • A headshot
  • A company’s logo
  • Your company’s social media handles
  • A link to your meeting scheduling tool
  • A link to your latest blog post or award
  • Your typical working hours
  • Your pronouns
  • A legal disclaimer

You don’t need to include all of these elements, however. You want your email signature to look clean and uncluttered, so stick to your full name, job title, and company name, and then add one or two other elements, if needed.

Ideally, your email signature should be three or four lines of text.

What Not to Include

There are a few things you shouldn’t include in your email signature, such as:

  • Your email address — you’re already emailing someone, so they already know your email address.
  • A quote — keep your favorite quotes for your phone wallpaper and a post-it note on your mirror.
  • Gifs and animated images — these can make your signature slow to load and look too busy, distracting the reader from the body of your email.


Email Signature Tips

Now you know what to include and what to leave out, here’s how to craft the perfect email signature.

1. Ask for Employer Rules or Guidelines 

When crafting your email signature, first check to see if your employer has any rules or guidelines.

There may be a template you have to use, or they may ask you to include brand colors, the company logo, or certain links in your signature, especially if you email a lot of people outside the company.

2. Play Around with Different Signature Ideas 

Next, experiment with a few different signatures until you find one you like.

Ask yourself if you’d be embarrassed for your dream client or the CEO of your company to see this. If not, it’s a keeper.

3. Send an Email to See What it Looks Like 

Finally, email yourself or a trusted friend or colleague to see how your signature looks and if it’s formatted correctly.

Be sure to also check what your signature looks like when reading your email from your phone — more and more of us read emails on our phones these days, so don’t skip this step.

Want more email tips? We’ve covered how to write better emails, how to write the perfect out-of-office message, and how to write a goodbye email to coworkers.

That should be all your burning signature questions answered. So, whether you’re crafting a new handwritten signature, e-signing a PDF, or updating your email signature, the above tips should have you covered.

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