Make your Word documents more secure using a digital signature

It is undeniable to recognize that at this time Word has become a basic tool in the work of millions of users, something that Microsoft developers are aware of, who do not stop improving it and implementing new and more powerful functions, as we have been able to verify these years ago. Many of these functions are sometimes unknown to the users themselves, especially if they are not used regularly.

That is why we are going to talk about a utility which can be very useful in certain environments, especially if, as is becoming more and more common, you use this program to generate and deal with documents professional officers. Specifically, we are referring to the possibility of adding a signature box custom in any document with which we are dealing at that moment. This will offer us greater security since no one will be able to modify the content, so the recipient will have absolute certainty that the content was originally written by us.

What is a digital signature and what guarantees does it offer?

When we talk about a digital signature we are referring to a electronic authentication stamp that is encrypted in a digital information medium such as an email message, macros or electronic documents. By using it, it is confirmed that the information comes from the signer and that it has not been modified by another person.

It is necessary have a signing certificate to be able to create an electronic signature, since in this way proof of identity is achieved. When we send you a macro or digitally signed document, we are also sending our certificate and our public key.

These signing certificates are issued by a certification authority that usually has a role similar to that of a notary public. This license is usually valid for one year, being necessary to renew it upon expiration or obtain a new signature certificate to establish our identity.

The digital signature offers a series of guarantees such as:

  • Authenticity: because it confirms the signer as the person who signs the document.
  • Integrity: The signature ensures that the content has not been changed or tampered with since it was digitally signed.
  • I don’t reject: It is an effective proof for all parties the origin of the signed content. Rejection means the act of the signatory to deny any relationship with the signed content.
  • Certification: Signatures in Word files are valid as a certification under certain circumstances.

Once we have learned more about the digital signature, next, we will see how we can add one when using Microsoft Word, since we will have two default ways to do so.

Add and remove a digital signature in Word

If we want to add a digital ID in a Word document, we can use a signature line. Through its use, we can customize it by specifying what type of information is wanted, while the recipient of the electronic copy of the file will see the signature line and the notification that it requires your signature. When the signer adds a visible representation of a signature to the document, a digital signature is added at the same time to authenticate their identity.

To get started, we open our Word document and place the pointer where we want to create a signature line. Later, at the top, click on the Insert tab, and within the Text section, click on the «Add a signature line» and “Microsoft Office Signature Line”.

Word Microsoft Office signature line

This will open a new window called Signature Settingswith which we can add information that will appear below the signature line, including:

  • Suggested signer.
  • Suggested signer position.
  • Email address of the suggested signer.
  • Instructions for the signatory.

Word Signature Settings

We must also take into consideration the two check boxes included that we find at the bottom:

  • Allow the signer to add comments in the Sign dialog: Checking this option allows the signer to write a purpose for signing.
  • Show signature date in signature line: By marking this section, the date on which the document was signed will appear next to the signature.

Once finished, we click on “OK” and save the document. Finally, it should be remembered that it will be necessary for us to have a digital certificate from a provider of digital identification or signature services. In addition to taking into account that only the creator of the document needs to install the digital certificate, not the recipient of it.

if we want delete signature, we simply have to open the Word document and right-click on the signature line. This will make a context menu appear where we will choose the option to “Remove Signature”.

word remove digital signature

Add and remove an invisible signature

Word also offers us the possibility of being able to add a invisible digital signature to our document. Through their use, these signatures guarantee the authenticity, integrity and origin of the document.

To be able to add it, just click on the tab. “Archive”. This will show us a new screen where we must click on the «Information” found in the left column.

Word Information

Later we select “Protect document”. Next, we click “Add a digital signature” and click on “Accept”.

Word Protect Document

Now we select the “Commitment Type” and in the box “Reason for signing this document”we write the reason for this and finally click on “Sign”.

word sign

Once signed invisibly, the file becomes read-only. This prevents it from being modified by other users.

In case we need it, we will be able to remove a digital signature from a Word document in a simple way. Once the document is open, click on File again, then on Information and then choose See signatures.

Word View signatures

Now right click on the signature line. This will make a context menu appear where we will choose the option to “Remove Signature”. In this simple way, the signature will be removed from the document and it can be processed and modified again.

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