As more corporate communications switch from paper to paperless, you may find yourself struggling to find a way to verify electronic documents. This is where an electronic signature, which is a virtual representation of your John Hancock, comes in handy. You don't need any fancy or expensive software to create a digital signature. All a Windows user needs is Paint, the graphics program that is included with the OS. Creating an electronic signature is incredibly similar to writing a signature on paper. Within minutes you'll have a new way to stamp documents with your approval.
To open Paint, click the Start button, navigate to the "Accessories" folder, and choose "Paint" (or press the Windows key, type "mspaint.exe", and press Enter). Click the small down-pointing arrow in the top-left corner and select "Properties."
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Change the Width and Height boxes to your preferred size for the electronic signature. The height of the space should be longer than its width, but leave enough room to "write" the actual signature. A width of two inches and height of four inches should suffice. Make sure the "Inches" radio button is selected, and then click the "OK" button.
Click the "Brushes" button on the ribbon in Windows 7 and choose "Caligraphy brush 1" from the drop-down menu. (In earlier versions of Windows, the Brushes options are located on the main Paint menu.)
Click the "Size" button on the ribbon and select the thinnest line option at the top of the drop-down menu.
Review the color choices on the ribbon. For a black electronic signature, leave the Paint default. Otherwise, click a small colored square and note the color changes in the "Color 1" box on the ribbon.
Move the cursor near the left edge of the white Paint workspace. Press and hold the left mouse button. Draw your first name just as you would if you were using a pen. Keep an eye on the parameters of the Paint workspace. Don't let the cursor cross the edges of the workspace. Release the left mouse button after you've written your first name.
Press and hold the left mouse button again and write your last name or, if you prefer, your middle name and/or initial, and then your last name.
Click the small down arrow again and choose "Save as." Click the "Save as type" menu and select PNG or GIF to preserve the transparency, which will allow you to place your electronic signature on any background. Type a name for the file, such as "CompanySIG," and click the "Save" button.
Although the Paint workspace looks like it has a solid white background, this is actually how the program shows transparency. This makes the program ideal for creating your electronic signature. If you want a white background for your signature, use Paint's “Fill with color” paint bucket tool to choose a white color for the signature background. PNG or GIF are the preferred file formats because they support rendering transparent backgrounds.