electronic signature in Microsoft Word



Is there a way to use passworded electronic signatures in word documents? By
electronic signature, I mean a graphic of a signature inserted into a word
document. By passworded, I mean that graphic could only be inserted by a
specific person who has the password to use that signature.

I realize once the document leaves my control the signature can be copied
and used by someone else just like a written signature could be scanned and
used. What I am trying to do is to be able to sign a document, such as a
report typed by someone else that I need to review and sign, that is on the
computer screen. I want to be able to insert my signature, but be asked for
a password before inserting it. I don't want people to insert my signature
graphic unless they have the password.

I hope my question is not very confusing.

Thank you.




Graham Mayor

What you ask is impossible for the reason you have already highlighted.
Obtaining a signature graphic and inserting it in a document is a simple
matter for anyone who can use a scanner and who knows how to insert a
graphic in a document, which should cover most Word users. The sort of
control that you envisage just adds unnecessary complication for no useful

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Graham Mayor - Word MVP

My web site www.gmayor.com

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Thank you for your answer. What about digital signatures/certificates that
would show the document has not been altered since I 'signed' it? Is this
something easy to do with MS Word.



Thank you for your reply. What about digital signatures/certificates? Would
it show that the document has not been altered since I 'signed' it? Is this
easy to do with MS Word?


Jay Freedman

It's relatively easy.

- First, you need a digital certificate. For real security, you need one
issued by a Root Certificate Authority or a certificate server that can be
traced back to a root authority. Unless your company has such a server, this
is going to cost real money, about $200 per year.

However, you can create an "untrusted" certificate by running the program
SelfCert.exe, which you'll find in the same folder with the WinWord.exe
program (the location depends on what version of Office you have). This
isn't a legally traceable certificate, but it may suffice for your purposes.
You'll need to do this once a year as each certificate expires.

- The document must already have been saved at least once, so there's a
named file on disk.

- Go to Tools > Options > Security and click the Digital Signatures button.

- In the Digital Signature dialog, click the Add button. Select the
certificate to use. Click the OK buttons in all dialogs. Then save the
document again.

The document name in the title bar will say "Signed" or, if you used a
SelfCert, "Signed, unverified". There's also an icon of a red ribbon in the
status bar with a tooltip that says "This document has been digitally
signed." Double-clicking the icon opens the Digital Signature dialog again.

If you or anyone else alters the document in any way in Word and then save
it, the signature will be removed. You can re-sign it with the same
certificate if you want.

The behavior if the document is altered outside of Word is a little less
obvious. The title bar is unchanged. If you double-click the status bar icon
now, it displays the message "This document has been digitally signed but
has been modified since it was signed. The digital signatures in this
document will be removed if you click OK in the Digital Signature dialog."
Then it opens the dialog with an empty certificate list.

Jay Freedman
Microsoft Word MVP
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Jay Freedman

Not by any built-in mechanism. In Word the digital signature and the
password for opening are completely different and separate features.
You can apply a password without a signature, and you can apply a
signature without a password.

I suppose you could write a macro to intercept the Save and Save As
commands and require both -- but (thanks to the macro virus security
debacle) there's no way to guarantee that every user runs macros.



Josh Gagnon

Frequent question. Best bet is to try a service like www.DocQ.com to convert
to a PDF and digitally sign so that the content cannot be tampered with and
the signature is attributed to the user & IP.

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