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Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is a transparent signature?
2. What is a PNG file?
3. Why use a transparent signature?
4. How do I put my signature on a document?
5. What is the difference between a PDF reader and PDF editor?
6. Why can’t I use Adobe Reader/Apple Preview to sign documents?
7. What is a digital signature and why can’t I use that instead? 
8. How secure is using a transparent signature stamp?  Couldn’t someone steal my signature?
9. What is Photoshop?
10. I don’t own a scanner.  What do I do?
11. Can I mail my signature?
12. Can I fax my signature?


1.    What is a transparent signature?  A transparent signature stamp is your physical signature in an electronic format that you can place on the signature line or anywhere on a PDF, Word or other electronic documents.  It’s transparent in that the contents of the document can be seen behind the signature.  We remove the background from your scanned image, darken the lines and clean up any artifacts.  If you were to scan it yourself, crop it and place it on a document, it would cover up any text below it (see Figures 1 and 2.)  The white background blocks the underlying print.  When you send us a scan of your signature and initials, we’ll crop it and remove the background and send it back to you in a PNG file.

faqfigures

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2.    What is a PNG file?  A PNG file, is a file extension like a DOC, PDF, JPG or GIF.  It is a file that handles mostly graphics.  It is especially good at rendering things like logos and graphic designs.  A GIF and PNG are the only formats that recognize a transparent background making them ideal for signatures.  PNG is the newer format so we chose that instead of GIF.

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3.    Why use a transparent signature?  If you are visiting this website, you already know what a pain it is to have to download a document from an e-mail, open it, print it, sign it, scan it and then e-mail it back, or fax it.  (Most of us don’t even own faxes or a physical phone line anymore!)  This process takes up a good chunk of your time, as well as expensive printer ink and paper.  Plus, we all want to save a few trees right?!  By using a transparent signature, this process can take less than 30 seconds!

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4.    How do I put my signature on a document?  There are several methods depending on the type of document. Any program that can insert a picture into a document will work. An example of this is when you use the “Insert Picture” function in Microsoft Word. For PDF files, we recommend using a PDF editor. When we send you the PNG files of your signatures, we'll send you a link to a third party PDF editor to download. These are great programs that can do a lot more with a PDF than Adobe Reader and Apple's Preview.

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5.    What is the difference between a PDF reader and PDF editor? A reader is just that.  It is a program that allows you to simply view a PDF file.  Some readers have some basic editing functions but they are really limited and most do not have a function for inserting a picture file.  The most popular reader is Adobe Reader for both PC’s and Macs, and Apple’s Preview, which comes bundled with their operating system.  To do a lot more you need a PDF editor or a reader with a function that inserts picture files.  The most popular editor is Adobe Acrobat.  The problem is that it costs around $100. (Adobe Reader is free but it doesn’t have much with regard to editing.)  The PDF editor we refer you to (see question 4) is great because it’s free and it has a great stamping function which allows you to insert your signature anywhere on a PDF.  You can also enter, highlight and annotate text. For Macs, we haven’t found a free one yet so let us know if you've found one.  The one we refer you to can be purchased for $9.99 and it has some basic editing functions.

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6.    Why can’t I use Adobe Reader/Apple Preview to sign documents?  Adobe Reader, which is the most popular PDF reader on the market for Windows based computers, and Apple’s Preview which comes with the operating system on Macs, are both very limited in what they can do to a PDF.  While both offer some basic editing functions, they do not have a way to insert a picture file, which is what you need to place your signature on a document.

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7.    What is a digital signature and why can’t I use that instead?  A digital signature is quite a bit more complicated and the function is not included in the two free and most commonly used PDF readers, Adobe Reader and Apple Preview.  Major corporations commonly use it when a document has to pass through several hands to ensure that a document has been unaltered since its creation and to verify the identity of the signer.  A digital signature is a file with an algorithm that produces a key for identification purposes and time stamps the document when it is signed.  When a recipient opens the document and double clicks the signature, a window opens stating that the document hasn’t changed since its creation.  Further, by using a digital identity service like Verisign or Entrust, one can verify the signer is who they say they are. For a really detailed explanation that only 100 lb. heads can understand, Wikipedia has a good article here.  If you have a PDF Reader with a digital signature function, you can use it to place a transparent signature.  A digital signature can include an image of your signature so you could use your signature image file with the digital signature.

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8.    How secure is using a transparent signature stamp?  Couldn’t someone steal my signature?  Using a transparent signature stamp is no less secure than using your real signature on a real piece of paper.  Someone can take your signature from a paper document just as easily as taking it from an electronic one.  In the former they would be using a photocopier, for the latter, a program like Photoshop or just print it and then photocopy it. I have tried removing my own signature from a PDF file and I couldn't do it using many different PDF editors including Adobe Acrobat which is the industry standard.

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9.    What is Photoshop?  Photoshop is a very powerful program for creating, editing and manipulating photos, graphics and art.

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10.    I don’t own a scanner.  What do I do? You might be able to find one at your local library, if not, try a UPS or FedEx Store.  Make sure you have some way to store the resulting file.  The best way would be to bring a USB drive with you.  Alternatively, you can use a digital camera or the camera on your smartphone.  Just make sure to hold the camera as flat to the paper as possible so that the image doesn't get distorted.  You can mail or fax it too. See questions 11 and 12 below.

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11.    Can I mail my signature? You can. Just sign a piece of clean, white paper with your signature and initials and circle your favorite ones. Call or e-mail us and we will give you the address to send it to.  Make sure to include the PayPal transaction ID number somewhere on the piece of paper.

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12.    Can I fax my signature?  You can but the quality will be very poor and we can’t guarantee that we can fix it so it will look like your real signature.  If you decide to go this route, give us a call so we can make arrangements.

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