A Detailed Guide on How to Sign a PDF Online in airSlate SignNow


In this day in age, technology is taking over many aspects of business and one of these aspects is signing contracts. This new way of dealing with contracts online is called electronic signature and is an invaluable resource to many modern institutions ranging from the government all the way to charity organizations and businesses both big and small. So in knowing this little snit bit of information you are probably wondering, well, “How can I sign a PDF document online?” and “Where can I sign online documents?” These are very good questions and you have come to the right place for not only the right answers, but detailed answers that help you really break down the questions.

So let’s take a brief moment to talk about where to digitally sign PDFs online. There are many different programs to go to for help in this situation but after much testing and comparing all the different options we recommend airSlate SignNow. Each program has its own strengths and weaknesses but airSlate SignNow is what we like to consider the most comprehensive eSignature solution on the market, it's good for both individuals and teams. Knowing where to go to digitally sign a PDF online is important, but also knowing why you should know how, is priceless.

Why it’s important to know how to electronically sign a PDF online

So to know why something is important it's crucial to know what it even is. In simple terms, an electronic signature is a digital signature on a dedicated digital platform. Simple right? However that does not really explain why it's taking over paper and ink signatures. No we are not trying to say that paper and ink signatures will go away, they still have their place but if you do not learn how to adapt to the electronic signature way of life, you will be left behind. So here is a simple list of reasons why you should learn how to sign a PDF file online.

  1. Environmental efforts – this one may not apply to you or even be something you would usually consider, but it's important to take some things in relation to environmental awareness into consideration. First it's important to know that having eco-friendly business practices means you have a chance to be more highly considered over your competition. Second, it's also good to know that it's also cheaper! Help the environment and save money by reducing your paper waste saves a large amount of money over a simple subscription. So going environmentally friendly, not only gives you a boost over the competition, it also saves you money.
  2. Very secure – electronic signatures have a leg up over paper and ink in a few areas and one of the major ones is that it's ridiculously secure over traditional methods. When you send a document to be signed by a client a few awesome things start to happen. First, the program will take into account which account be it an email or what have you is being used to eSign the sent document. Second, it'll take a look at what device is being used to sign the documents. Then, it'll actually take into account where the contract was signed, be it a home, office, or even that fancy coffee shop on third street. This is not only really cool, it's also incredibly safe, ensuring that you and your client are protected in case anything happens.
  3. Efficient at its core – being more efficient should be really important because if you are collecting signatures the old fashioned way, you know that it's an incredible hassle. You have to get all the people involved, you have to sign, copy, and store all the documents; it's all a really lengthy process. You could save everyone a lot of time by just using electronic signatures and collect everything in just a few clicks right from your phone or computer.
  4. Fast – if you have ever tried to collect paper and ink signatures before you know it takes about as long as a horse and buggy to travel from New York to California. God forbid you have to send it by mail, it could take days, if not weeks to get the contract back. With eSignature on the other hand, it takes only a couple of minutes, and you do not even have to go anywhere. Just pop out your phone, hit send, grab a cup of coffee, and before you sit back down you could have your contract back, executed, and waiting for you.

A brief look into how you can sign documents online with airSlate SignNow

In this next section here, we will go over a very quick guide on how you can sign a PDF online in airSlate SignNow. Note, this short step-by-step guide will not only show you how to edit and sign a PDF online but also how to make sure your client can do so too. Follow along with us as we get started.

  1. Go to www.airSlate SignNow.com and either sign in or register a new account if you do not already have one. Go ahead and use your Google account if it’s easier.
  2. Upload a form, document, or PDF from whatever device you are using by clicking on Upload Documents. This will take a minute or so, so you will have to wait for your file to upload onto your Homepage.
  3. Click on the document file’s name once you see that it has successfully appeared on your Homepage.
  4. Take a look at the left-hand-side tool panel and select the My Signature element and place it wherever you need it to be. Your eSignature will be applied where the element sits.
  5. Self sign the document. To generate your own signature you just click on the element you just placed down and start typing, drawing, or you could even upload an image of your handwritten signature if you want to. 
  6. Click Sign and drag the executed element by using the move button.
  7. Drag and drop the Signature field on the left-hand tool panel and place the element wherever you need your client to eSign.
  8. Click the Save and Close button to get back to your Homepage.
  9. Click on the More button next to your file’s name and then on Email a Copy.
  10. Add a recipient and/or client email(s), include your subject and a message, then click Send Now and you are done. Just got to wait for them to sign it.

In just ten steps, you learned how to do pretty much anything you would need to know how to do when it comes to how to sign and edit a PDF in airSlate SignNow. This is one of the very reasons that we think airSlate SignNow is one of the most comprehensive, quick, and easy eSignature programs on the market. On an added note, your client’s do not even have to have an airSlate SignNow account to be able to eSign the documents that you send them.

To learn more about eSignature and airSlate SignNow specifically, continue to read this article.  Below we will introduce you to digital transformation and how it has changed completely how two or more negotiating parties interact and process deals.

eSigning PDF documents in the age of remote work and mass digital transformation

What is digital transformation? Well, Digital transformation is defined as  the process of using digital technologies to create new — or modify existing — business processes, culture, and customer experiences to meet changing business and market requirements. This means that technology is always being created and being used in new and unexpected ways for the benefit of efficiency.

ow this relates to electronic signature is simple. Back a few decades, most businesses and organizations would have documents and contracts that would be gathered and executed with paper and ink. This was incredibly inefficient and tedious, but unfortunately, it was best that could be done for the time. A change occurred when computers became standard in most places of work. This allowed for all these documents to be copied or scanned into a digital form. Once in digital format, to some degree, it became much easier to store and locate items. However, it still followed an archaic form of filing as everything had to be entered and stored manually. It was soon realized that this digital technology that was being used was, in fact, not being used to its maximum potential. This was the beginning of electronic signature.

Digital transformation today

This phenomenon, known as digital transformation, is happening everywhere, not just in paperwork. For example, take social media. Social media was developed to connect people of common interest from all over the globe. Friends, family, and strangers finally had a place come together to connect and relate. That was, and still is a beautiful idea, and for the most part, it worked. However, is this all that could be done with social media? Well, that's the question that was asked in one form or another, because social media is so much more than it used to be. Companies started to find the limits of what they could do with social media and soon discovered that they could market their goods and services and care for customer concerns. Not too long after, this tool (social media) was initially for connecting the world and quickly grew into something used to sell to the world.

Call centers were the most affected by the digital transformation of social media. Call centers were created both for marketing and for customer service and were pushed back by the competition that a basic social site created. Now in some cases, such centers have attempted to adapt to the changing wave that digital transformation brings and started to offer social media management of their own. This brings up an important fact of life that businesses and organizations have to face, if you do not change with the technology that comes out, if you do not adapt with the times, you will be left behind.

airSlate SignNow and the digital wave

airSlate SignNow is a product of digital transformation because of a need in an open market. There are many issues involved in dealing with paperwork, documents, and contracts. Let us just break down some of them. One thing is that dealing with paperwork is incredibly expensive. Thirty million paper documents are printed by companies each year in an attempt to get signatures. If you equate that cost compared to dealing with the service airSlate SignNow it's worlds of difference.

It does not stop there. It takes a really long time to take, get, and sort through paper and ink contracts. This time could be better spent dealing with more pressing issues in an organization. So when you get airSlate SignNow, it's much faster, and because of that speed, you can also grow a high customer satisfaction rate.

Electronic signatures equals electronic security

It’s so essential to understand how much more secure electronic signatures are than paper and ink signatures. Knowing this can really save your organization a lot of time and grief in the future. So when you send out your contract to be electronically signed by your customer or whomever it may be, the programs that you are using will start to go into information gathering protocols. That means that when someone opens an email you send documents through for singing, the system will collect what email was used. Next, it'll do a quick info check on the device being used. That doesn't mean it's stealing personal information from the owner; it means that it's taking device information such as type of device and model number, absolutely no user info. Then it'll take note of the device’s physical location. All of this together will make it so much more secure not only for you but also for the signer. And we believe that it's important for you to know and understand this fact.

airSlate SignNow is digital security

airSlate SignNow is an incredibly secure program to use. It was built with safety and utility in mind. It complies with many strict certifications such as:

  • SOC 2 Type II 
  • PCI DSS 
  • eIDAS 
  • 21 CFR Part 11
  • GDPR

What this means is that airSlate SignNow has gone through rigorous investigation and effort to make sure that it meets all the requirements for seven very difficult certifications to get. These strict security certs ensure that airSlate SignNow can be used just about everywhere that electronic signature is legal and valid. Now, in saying that, it's important for organizations like yours to cover your own tail to prevent issues with your own data and that's a primary reason why airSlate SignNow is trusted by so many enterprise-level clients. It keeps you in compliance.

How to edit and sign a PDF document online

You have a few options on how you can start this step.

  • You can go to your airSlate SignNow Homepage.


  • Press the Upload Documents button at the top of your screen.

However, if we start from the airSlate SignNow Homepage, you will find the Start Uploading Documents Now option in the center of the screen (you can also drag a file onto the page from the file explorer). After you have done one of those steps, wait a few moments for your file to upload, and your document will then be available on the same page.


Note:  once your upload starts, you will notice a small notification on the bottom right of your screen. This notification is nothing to worry about and can be quite helpful. The information you get from this notification concerns the upload in progress, when that upload is complete, and about any errors that may occur during the process.

Now that the file is uploaded, take a look at your Homepage and click on the Documents Folder. In this folder, you will find your new document, and now we can get started showing you how to edit and sign a PDF online. Make sure that you follow this guide to make the process smooth and simple.

How to edit a PDF

It’s now time to edit your uploaded document, so let us focus on what we have to do to get it ready. To open it up, you have to click on its name, and then you will see that your contract is in airSlate SignNow’s built-in editor.

If you could, please focus on the list of options on the left-hand side of the screen. This section is loaded with many tools and options to help ensure that you will get your contract as perfect as possible. There is a lot here, but try not to be overwhelmed. we will take a moment to break down a few of the most crucial steps necessary to completing this document.

The first option that we will go over is the Signature Field. This option is the most crucial when it comes to sending a document eSigning. As I am sure you guessed, this element is how your clients will eSign your form. To add a Signature Field, click on the element in the left-hand column. After that, you must find where you want your client to sign and click that location. If the field is off-center, you can manually move it by selecting the element and grabbing the move button (the move button is the little four arrows in the cross shape). Once you clicked and grabbed the move button, you can center the element by dragging it around.

Note:  something you will notice is that a few lines are coming out of your document. These are indicator lines that are part of the airSlate SignNow alignment function. These are to help you organize your form as neatly and crisply as possible, both faster and cleaner than if you were to do it yourself. All you need to do is put the element where you want and place it. The system will do the rest and place it where it best lines up. However, if you do not like where it aligns, you can use the location function to move it to the location you think is best.

The location function concerns how the element fits in the document. airSlate SignNow generates this by using the document's pixels in relation to the document's size and margins. Again, you can move the field around the form using the little move button we talked about earlier. 

Note:  Many left-hand column options are self-explanatory, so we will skip a few of them not to waste your time explaining all the simple ones. These options were named and made to be very simple for maximum convenience.

 As we mentioned, most of these are things you can look at and understand pretty quickly, let us continue.

Radio Button Groups, or as they are commonly called radio buttons, are circular buttons you can mark or check. These buttons are incredibly helpful because of the fact that they allow the signator to choose from a list of options to help with the document. These include things like linguistic proficiency, gender, or their department within their organization.

The Radio Groups can have internal names. In the image above, you can see how this will look when set up. These names can be used in a few ways that will be useful to you. One such method is using them on a pre-existing list or item that's already in the form. They can also be used by connecting them to the Text element that you find by going to Edit & Sign. These can help save tons of time, similarly to the attachment element that we will discuss next.

Attachment elements may not seem very useful at first glance, but you would be surprised to find out their utility. If you are hiring someone, you will certainly need these in the agreement or contract process. You may require them to attach a picture of an ID or some other form of documentation that you may require. Hiring a contractor will also lead you to need some form of permits or credentials attached to that you are confident of their legality and credibility. This feature can be used in many different ways; you can have them attach anything you would need from them.

Next, learn how you can digitally sign a PDF online

In the last section, we showed you the more complicated, though, important ways to edit your PDF online with airSlate SignNow; however, in this section, we will focus on the part that you really want to know, which is how to sign and apply your eSignature to a PDF online.

If you could take a look at the left column again, you will see at the bottom there is another section that says Edit & Sign. Underneath the Edit & Sign section, you will see an option that says My Signature. Click on My Signature to produce an element. Now that you have the element ready, you will go to the location on the document that you wish to place your signature and click. 

Note:  do not forget that if you do not like where it gets applied, you can always use the move button to change its location on the document.

From here, you must now click on the element, and it'll take you to what is called the Signature Window. If you look at the picture above, you can see three different options:

  1. Write Your Signature
  2. Draw Your Signature
  3. Upload Your Signature

We will help break down these options for you so that you can make an educated decision on what type of signature you want to use and best fits your business.

  • Write Your Signature is where you will type out your full name into the designated bar. When you type out your name, airSlate SignNow automatically generates your initials in the box next to the signature bar. If you do not like how your signature looks you can select the Change Style button and select one that fits your taste.
  • Draw Your Signature is where you will either use a touch screen or your mouse cursor to actually draw out your signature in the airSlate SignNow program. If you are using a touch screen device, it's as simple as tracing your finger over the screen to create the signature you want. However, if you are using a mouse cursor, you will need to click and drag the cursor into the shape of the signature you wish to. Do not worry if it does not look as good as you want it; you can redraw it as many times as you like until you are satisfied.
  • Upload Your Signature is a method of eSigning your document by taking a picture of your handwritten signature and uploading it to airSlate SignNow to be used as an electronic signature. You can do this by taking a picture of your signature by using your phone, or by uploading a photo of your signature to your computer from some kind of data transfer device like a flash drive.

With that, we have answered the central question of this article, which is how to sign a pdf online. However, we still have a bit farther to go if we want to consider this a full guide. Next, we will see what it looks like from the perspective of your clients. We will discuss what they will see and how they will eSign the document from their end; because, like you, they are probably wondering, “How do I sign pdf online?”

How can clients sign a pdf online?

In this section, you will learn what it looks like for your client when they receive a document from you that needs to be signed. After you send out the email containing your document, they will receive it in their inbox. Inside the email, there will be an invitation to sign whatever type of document you sent, such as the picture above. Thankfully, it's incredibly easy for them to eSign the form or contract that you sent. If they can follow simple instructions, they will have no issues signing the document. Let us look and see what things look like on your client’s end.

When they open up the email, they will see that they have been invited to sign a document. Once in their email, they will simply need to click the Sign Document prompt, and they will be redirected to your document with the access permissions and visibility you set for them. If you were worried about who can sign your documents and included a few precautions, such as a password, the client would need to enter that password before they can be allowed to sign the document. Now, if you had SMS or phone call authentication, it'll need to be verified before they can continue.

Once verified, they will see the prompt in the picture above. All that your clients will need to do will be listed on that page. Simply click the Get Started bottom.

After clicking on Get Started, one of the first things they will be able to do is work with any Radio Buttons you added, add their initials, and eSign (like the example above). All they have to do is click on the highlighted elements and then on Next to move to the next element. By clicking, the fields will autofill. To add the date, all they have to do is press the Today’s Date button, and the correct date will be added. However, they can always select any date they need to.

After that, all they have to do is select the signature they want to use or type their full name. They can also choose to draw or upload a signature just like you can.

Once that's done, all they have to do is press Done at their screen's top right. Then, they will be greeted by the message, “Thanks! You’ve successfully signed the document. The originator will be notified.” From there, all they have to do is close the email or application.

In a nutshell, learning how to sign and edit a pdf online is not so tough

Electronic signature (eSignature) is taking over ink and paper contracts, and it's important that you learn how to use this new way of doing things. it's literally ten simple steps; you have to learn how to sign a pdf online and edit one. To get ahead of the game is crucial in business, and if you read all the way to here, you have already taken a big step in achieving that.

We hope you got something valuable from reading this article; thank you for sticking with us till the end. If you have more questions, please visit our Questions & Answers section. There you will find many more step-by-step instructions for working in airSlate SignNow.

Grady Andersen
Grady Andersen
Contributing Writer
October 28, 2020

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