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How to add a scanned signature to an e-signature using Acrobat X

Learn how to e-sign PDF by scanning your signature into Acrobat X to make your e-signatures look more like handwritten signatures.

By Donna Baker – February 6, 2012


In this tutorial, learn how to e-sign PDF by scanning your signature into Acrobat X to make your e-signatures look more like handwritten signatures. You can add your signature as part of your e-signature. First you need the signature itself. Write your name on a piece of paper at a normal size—you don't need to fill a whole page—and then scan it into Acrobat X. You often see artifact on the text, such as the faint lines and dots in the background. Before using the e-signature, follow the steps in this quick tip video to get the image in shape.

View transcript

How to add a scanned signature to an e-signature using Acrobat X

Donna Baker – February 6, 2012

Would you like to make your digital signatures look more like handwritten signatures? You can add your signature as part of your digital signature.

First you need the signature itself. Write your name on a piece of paper at a normal size—you don't need to fill a whole page and scan it into Acrobat X. You often see artifact on the text, such as the faint lines and dots in the background. Before using the signature, follow these steps to get the image in shape:

  • In the Tools panel, click Document Processing and click Optimize Scanned PDF. Drag the slider right to create a high quality scan.
  • The text doesn't need to be captured, so deselect Make Searchable.
  • To improve the appearance even more, click Edit and adjust the filter settings.
  • Click OK to process the signature then save the PDF.

Now follow these steps to create the new digital signature:

  • Choose Edit > Preferences on Windows, or Acrobat > Preferences on Mac and click the Security category. You'll see a list of the signature versions you've created and stored on your computer. The Preview updates as you modify the appearance.
  • Click New to open the Configure Signature Appearance dialog box. Type a name for the appearance, otherwise, Acrobat uses the date and time as the name.
  • Click Imported Graphic, then click File to locate and select the signature scan file.
  • You'll see the preview in the Select Picture dialog box. Click OK and we're back to the main dialog box.
  • Deselect the checkboxes for the text options you don't want to include. You see the preview updates as you modify the appearance.
  • When you're done, click OK. You'll see the new appearance added to the list. Click OK to close the preferences.

Products covered:

Acrobat X

Related topics:

Sign Microsoft Word documents, Create electronic signatures, Create digital signatures, Scan and Optimize, Sign and Send PDFs

Top Searches:


Comments for this tutorial are now closed.

Lori Kassuba

5, 2015-06-08 08, 2015

Hi Greg,

Reader only allows a PDF image but Acrobat supports other graphic file formats.



11, 2015-06-05 05, 2015

I am trying to apply a custom personal signature as a display to a digital signature but Adobe wont let me select a PNG file. It only allows a file type of PDF.

Lori Kassuba

1, 2015-04-28 28, 2015

Hi Trevor North,

In Reader 11.0.10 you can use PDF, JPG, PNG, GIF, TIF, and BMP. You should see these options in the browse dialog. If not, what OS are you running Reader on?


Trevor North

9, 2015-04-25 25, 2015

I’m all in favour of using digital signatures but it has to be practical.  To write my actual signature, i need to write it at normal size, if i’m trying to write it at 4” wide, it is no longer my signature as i write it normally - i know the electronic one is the important one in this case but still, it’s nice for the handwritten one to appear as normal.

You also mention that in Reader 11.0.6 it was changed to have different types other than .pdf for importing signature images.  I have Adobe Reader 11.0.10 and it also only offers .pdf, not .jpeg, .gif or others as shown in the video.

Adobe Reader is great for documents, but for image editing - not so hot - why on earth would Adobe only let you import an image that is in .pdf format - come on guys - you arent going to lose anything by letting people import an image as a standard image format like .jpg

You arent going to make this maintstream if you dont make it usable and allowing the signature to be resized is a must - dont make me faff around with workarounds - let me resize the signature and if you can modify your software to do it, then dont force me to use your format!

Lori Kassuba

2, 2015-03-26 26, 2015

Hi Jim Montgomery,

Have you tried cropping all the white space around your signature? I use a BMP file that is only 3"x 1” but I don’t have any extra white space around the image.


Lori Kassuba

2, 2015-03-26 26, 2015

Hi Max,

It’s sounds like you need to clear your existing digital signature from the Place Signature command. You should see a small dropdown arrow within the Place Signature command where you can do this.


Jim Montgomery

11, 2015-03-18 18, 2015

I have the same problem as Victor.  I tried writing a significantly larger signature and that helped but in order for it to be usable, the signature would have to be 8 10” wide.  This seems unreasonable.  Any other suggestions?


11, 2015-02-25 25, 2015

Hi, I am able to create the signature, but the video leaves out how to place it onto the document. When I choose sign document, or place signature, it goes somewhere totally unrelated and doesn’t let me find my created signature. I says “My existing digital ID from: A file”, etc.
How do I actually place the signature I made onto the document?


9, 2014-09-19 19, 2014

Thanks, it really worked for me, although the signature is little bit small.

Lori Kassuba

1, 2014-03-18 18, 2014

Hi Rodolfo,

The capability to add a image signature format for pdf, jpg, png, gif, tiff, tif, or bmp format was only added to the more recent version of Adobe Reader (11.0.06). If any of the commands are grayed out in the Sign panel it may be because the original form was created in LiveCycle Designer or it has an existing digital signature field on the form that was placed there in Acrobat. If there is an existing digital signature field, try removing it first.



8, 2014-03-13 13, 2014

Thanks for your reply Lori, unfortunately I don’t get the image options with just the Place Signature command, even though I’ve saved the pdf Reader extended with the extra tools (for signing) and have the 11.0.06 version of the Reader.

There must be certain conditions I have not met to configure the signature appearance as in the Pro version.

Lori Kassuba

2, 2014-03-12 12, 2014

Hi Rodolfo,

When using the Place Signature command (use an Image) in Reader 11.0.06, you can choose from a pdf, jpg, png, gif, tiff, tif, or bmp format.



7, 2014-03-12 12, 2014

Hello Donna

I am using Adobe Acrobat XI Pro and Adobe Reader XI, I’ve noticed that the Acrobat Pro allows me to create a signature appearance based on a GIF image file and the Reader does it only with pdf files, just as your example. I also noticed that the appearance is in a different section of the signature category in the preferences window (that’s why I have not tried exporting from pro and importing into reader yet)

I need my client to sign his document with a signature without the white background, is there a way to configure such appearance in Adobe Reader?


10, 2013-09-29 29, 2013

I am not sure where you are getting your info, but good topic. I need to spend some time studying more or understanding more. Thanks for fantastic info. I used to be looking for this info for my mission.

donna baker

6, 2013-07-15 15, 2013

Hi Meagan -

Yes, the image should be a PDF file.



3, 2013-07-02 02, 2013

I have followed your video, however when I go to place the signature in the document the image is not browse-able. Meaning- I can not find the image (Signature) to import. Should I save the image in a certain format to make it visible?

donna baker

5, 2013-06-18 18, 2013

Hi Satish -

I’m very sorry, but it’s almost impossible to convert a handwritten text into searchable text in Acrobat. You might want to use a dictation program and read the documents into the program and convert to text that way. It’s still a lot of work. It may be simpler and faster to retype your content.



2, 2013-06-15 15, 2013

All, I have big issue?
How to convert hand written paper scanned
jpg or jpeg image to word or text.
Please suggest me i have thousands of application
to type in excel.
Please do some needful

Talk soon,

donna baker

5, 2012-09-23 23, 2012

Hi Ben -

Your preferences should be displayed in the signature. Try making another one without the scanned image and see if that works. If so, try it again, or add the image to the one that ‘works’.



3, 2012-09-20 20, 2012


When I add my signature, it doesn’t include the time next to it, even though it’s selected in the preferences box? Any idea why it might not be showing?



11, 2012-04-10 10, 2012

Hi Donna…thanks for the tutorial…it helped me set up my hand written signature. Unfortunately, my signature appears very small on the document, unlike your signature in the video that you did.  How can I increase the size of my signature? If I drag the insertion window larger, much of the document I am signing is erased. Please advise.


Hi Victor -

Write your original signature much larger than you would in real life. My example is about four inches wide! After you convert it to PDF and create the stamp, Acrobat automatically decreases its size to a basic stamp size.


Comments for this tutorial are now closed.