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Use HelloSign to Get Documents Signed Online

This post is part of a series called Going Paperless.
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Getting signatures can be tricky when working with teams in different cities or countries. Having to physically mail a document to a co-worker, client, or other individual just to have them scribble their name for approval wastes time and money—and might get your documents lost in the mail.

Luckily, there’s a workaround for this: HelloSign. HelloSign is a web app that lets you request signatures and sign legally binding documents, without any faxes or trips to the Post Office. In this tutorial, I'll show you how to send signatures, request signatures, and do even more with HelloSign.

Getting Started with HelloSign

How many have to sign
Getting your document signed in HelloSign

To get your document signed, you'll first need to signup for a HelloSign account or authenticate it with your Google Account. Then, from the dashboard, look towards the center of the screen and you will see three options under the “Who needs to sign?” header: Just me, Me + Others, and Just others. Click on the option that fits your situation best.

Note: You cannot use the Edit & Sign features when selecting the Just others option.

Adding Files To HelloSign
Adding Files To HelloSign

Look towards the center of the screen under the Add (and Sign) files of any kind header. To the right of this header is an area where you can drag-and-drop any type of text file you’d like to sign. Or, if you've saved your document online, you can import files from Google Drive, Dropbox, Box, Evernote, and Microsoft SkyDrive. To do this, click on the service’s respective button to be redirected to a sign-in page.

Requesting Signatures Using HelloSign

Note: If you selected Just me when selecting who needs to sign your document, skip this step.

Adding signees to a HelloSign document
Adding signees to a HelloSign document. 

After you’ve uploaded your document, look under the Who needs to sign? header. You will find two text boxes where you can add your additional signer's name and email. If you need to add more signers, look below the boxes and click the + Signer button. You can also copy other email addresses to the form from the + CC button.

If your documents require signatures in a certain order (for instance, if you want the president of a company’s name to be signed before a vice president’s name), check the Assign order number box which is located under the list of email addresses. Now, next to each name and email address, you’ll notice up and down buttons to the left of each name. Use these buttons to arrange the order of your signees.

Adding signature fields to a document
Adding signature fields to a HelloSign document. 

Now, look under the Where do they need to sign? header and click the Prepare Documents For Signing button. When you do this, a popup window will appear that contains your document. Look towards the top of this document at the row of buttons labeled signature, initials, textbox, checkbox, and sign date. Drag-and-drop each of these boxes to their respective place on your document. For instance, drag a signature field to the signature area on your document.

If you have multiple signers, make sure to select who signs and fills out what information from the drop-down menu above the respective box.

Adding a message to your HelloSign email
Adding messages to your HelloSign email.

On the bottom of the page under the Add document title and custom message header, write a message for your signees and name the document before sending it to your signees.

Now that you’re done setting up your signees, follow the next part of the guide to add your own signatures to your document. Once you’re done, or if you don’t need to sign your document, click the large Request Signature button located towards the bottom of the window to send the document.

Signing Documents Using HelloSign

Once your document has been imported to HelloSign, look below the upload area and click on the Edit & Sign button. If you’re using a shared document, this button will be labeled Prepare Docs For Signing. You will now be brought to a window where you can edit and sign documents. For the example, I’ve uploaded a sample photo release form from my computer in .doc format.

Look towards the top of the Edit & Sign window, and you will see five buttons: signature, initials, check mark, date, and text. These buttons allow you to add their respective information to the document. However, before you can sign documents using HelloSign, you must add your signature to the service.

Adding Your Signature And Initials To HelloSign

To add your signature and initials to HelloSign, click on the respective button from the Edit & Sign window. When you do this, a popup window will appear asking you to add your signature to the service. If you look towards the the right-hand side of the window, you will see four different choices to add a signature to HelloSign: Draw it in, type in signature, upload image file, and smartphone.

Drawing a signature
Using your mouse to "draw in" your signature.

If you select Draw it in, you will be brought to a window where you can use your mouse to draw in a signature. Just click and hold next to the “X” to start drawing your signature in. When you’re done, click the Next button and you’ll be redirected to a page where you can preview your signature. From here, click insert if you’d like to only use this signature once, or save and insert if you plan on using it again in the future.

Typing a signature
Typing a signature using HelloSign.

Clicking on Type in signature will bring you to a page where you can type your signature in. When you type, the signature’s output will be in a handwriting-like font. When you’re done typing in said signature, click Insert to add the signature to your document.

If you want to add a real signature to your HelloSign form, click the Upload image file button. From here, you’ll be prompted to upload a photo or scan of your signature. For this example, I scanned a copy of my signature in at 350dpi using my scanner.

Editing a scanned signature
Editing a scanned-in signature.

You’ll now be taken to a page where you can rotate, crop, and add contrast to your uploaded image. Rotate the image to your liking with the arrows located below the signature window, add contrast using the slider above your signature, and crop by clicking and dragging over the signature itself. Once you’ve cropped, click the next button to preview your signature. If you’re satisfied, click Insert or Insert and Save.

If you don’t have a scanner, you can add a signature from your smartphone by clicking the Smartphone button. This window will prompt you to take a photo of your signature using your smartphone’s camera and then forward it to the email address in the middle of the window. Once the photo is sent, press Next to crop your signature. You can then add your signature to the document.

These same options apply to the Initials button that is located next to the right of the signature button within the Edit & Sign button.

Adding Your Signature Or Initials To Your Document

Selecting a saved signature
Selecting a signature to use in a HelloSign document. 

Now that you have a signature and initials saved and are ready to go, click on the Used saved button within the Add signature window.  Select the signature you’d like to use to sign with by clicking in on its image. Once selected, click Insert signature.

Your signature will now be added to the document. To move your signature, just click and drag it into position. If you need to add the signature multiple times, just click on the document to make another copy of your signature appear. If you need to initial any part of the document, click into the Initials button and follow the same steps.

Adding Text, Checkboxes, And Dates To Your Document

If you need to fill out part of your form with text—for example, when filling in your first and last name in a document—you can use HelloSign’s text function. This function is located to the right of the signature and initials buttons and is labeled Text. After clicking, select the part of the document you’d like to add text to and begin typing.

Adding simple checkmarks to a document is easy as well. All you have to do is select the checkbox button from the top of the Edit & Sign window. Then, add a checkbox by clicking on the document.

Finally, you can also add dates to a document by pressing the date button. After clicking, simply click on wherever you’d like to place the date. The date will automatically be updated to today’s date, but if you need to edit it, just click into your newly added date to edit it.

Creating Templates And Links

Choosing to create a template or link

If you often find yourself sending the same document to signees over and over, you may want to create templates for your documents. To do this, look to the left-hand side of the HelloSign website and click the Create template button. When you do this, you’ll be brought to a page with two options: Create template and Create link.

If you need multiple persons to sign a document, you’ll have to create a Template as Links do not support multiple signees. Templates can also be sent to signees via HelloSign, versus Links which can be sent via email, social media, or any other way you’d like to distribute it.

Creating Templates and Links are almost identical processes. Just click on which type you’d like to make, upload your files, add signees, add signature fields, and type a message. Once you’re done creating a template, click the Create template button, and you’ll be able to access it from your Documents button which is located on the left-hand side of the HelloSign window, just under the Create Templates button.

If you’re creating a Link, click the Create Link button when done. You’ll then be brought to a page with a link that you can give to users you’d like to have sign the document. You can distribute this link anyway you’d like and your users can sign via their web browser.

Viewing Signed Documents

Downloading documents from HelloSign
Downloading documents from HelloSign.

Now that you’ve sent documents to co-workers, clients, and other signees, how exactly do you view your view your signed documents? Simple, just click on the Documents button located on the left-hand side of the HelloSign window. Now, look towards the top of the page next to the Filter by header. You will see a drop-down menu. From this menu, select Sent.

Look towards the center of the window to view all of your sent documents. Find the document you sent and view the status of the pending signature to the right of the document name. If the document has been signed, click on the arrow button to the right of the date that  the document was sent. A drop-down menu will appear. From this menu, you can preview and download the document.

If you’ve signed up for HelloSign using your Google account, these folders will also be available for viewing in your Google Drive account within the newly added “HelloSign” folder.

Using HelloSign With Google Docs

Another great thing about HelloSign is the fact that it integrates well with Google Docs. In fact, when using HelloSign in Google Docs, you can sign and send documents from within the Google Docs interface, skipping the HelloSign interface completely.

Adding the HelloSign Google Docs add-on

To start, you’ll need to install the HelloSign add-on to your Google Docs account. To do this, create a new Google Docs document and look towards the top of the window. Click on the Add-ons button. When you do this, a pop-up window will appear. Look towards the upper right-hand corner of this window at the search bar. Search for “HelloSign” and install the HelloSign plugin.

Now, use Google Docs to open a document you need to sign, or have others sign. Then, click back into the Add-ons menu and, from the drop-down menu, click on the HelloSign button.

Signing documents in Google Docs
Signing documents within Google Docs. 

Look towards the right-hand side of the window, and you’ll notice a HelloSign window asking the oh-so-familiar question: “who needs to sign this document?”. If you select Just me, you’ll be brought to a menu that shows all of your saved signatures. To sign the document, just drag-and-drop your signature onto the document. Once you’re done, click Email As PDF from the HelloSign sidebar.

Requesting signatures using HelloSign within Google Docs
Requesting signatures with Google Docs.

If you’ve chosen to send the document to others for signing, you’ll brought to a webpage where you can input your signer’s name and email address as well as selecting where your signees should be signing, just like I showed you how to do within the standard HelloSign interface above. You can then send your document.

You’re now ready to sign documents digitally!

And that sums up this tutorial. You’re now ready to send and receive legally binding, digital signatures using HelloSign and Google Docs. If you have any trouble, be sure to leave a comment below and we'll help you out. And the next time you need to get a document signed—perhaps sometime soon before you file your taxes—be sure to give HelloSign a try. It'll save you postage and a ton of time, and won't even waste one piece of paper.

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