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Wet Signature Guide: What It Is and How To Replace It

by Hung Nguyen

You can also read this article in German, Spanish, French, Indonesian, Italian and Portuguese.

Learn what a wet signature is, and how you can quickly create your own electronic signature from the “wet” version with Smallpdf—for free.

Welcome to the ever-changing world of document signing. If you’re scratching your head wondering what the difference between the different types of signatures is—we’ll help you out; it’s not complicated at all.

What Is a Wet Signature?


Simply put, a wet signature is a regular old signature you create by putting pen to paper. It’s called a “wet” signature, because the pen (or stamp) you use uses some form of liquid. In the “olden days”, the ink took some time to dry, hence it became known as a “wet signature”.


Any physically singed signature = a wet signature

Photo by Lewis Keegan on Unsplash

Why even make a distinction? Well, with technology advancing, there are lots of new ways to sign documents. While it was possible to just print a picture of your signature on a document, for a long time, this was not considered a valid signature. After all, who’s to say that you’re the one who placed that image of the signature onto the document?

But what about e-signatures? What makes them special? Electronic signatures are digitalized versions of your signature. Even if you’re new to it, you’ve probably created one before: Think of the times you’ve had to sign a tablet from the postman before receiving a parcel. At the end of the day, they’re not wet signatures, but images of your handwritten signature. As times have changed and all things have become more digital-friendly, the acceptance for electronic signatures has grown. Many types of contracts and agreements nowadays can be made and finalized with electronic signatures.

Smallpdf offers one of the most popular online tools to create your own electronic signature for free. It’s simple, too.

How To Turn a Wet Signature Into an Electronic Signature

  1. Open a document you wish to sign to our eSign tool.

  2. Click “Your Signature” and either upload a picture of your signature or your mouse, stylus, or finger to draw it in the box.

  3. We will then turn it into an electronic signature.

  4. Pick the color and hit “Create Signature” to finish.


How to turn an old school wet signature into an electronic signature, using the Smallpdf eSign tool.

And that’s all there is to it. You can then review your document and complete the signing process.

With this online tool, you can also request an electronic version of someone else’s wet signature by adding signees from within our eSign tool. We will send the requester (you) and the signees emails to notify you of every step of the singing process.

If you are looking to preserve a copy of your wet signature in PDF or image format (without) signing a document—please check out our guide on how to create a signature.

Remember to always verify with other involved parties on specific legal requirements. Although electronic signatures are widely accepted, some may still favor a handwritten signature. In such circumstances, you would need to sign in person or post paper documents for singing.

How To Create a Digital and Legally Binding Version of Your Wet Signature


As mentioned, electronic signatures are not legally binding for all types of contracts. The more important the agreement, the more both parties will want to make sure the signature is authentic and placed by the person it belongs to. There is another type of electronic signature which adds another layer of security to the process called digital signatures. The process to create these signatures is the same, but we generate digital seal protection on top of all signatures. Thus, you can verify the time it was signed, the signee, and whether the content was changed since the time of singing. Digital signatures are widely accepted for almost all types of documents these days, as they can be authenticated. Also, any changes to the document after signing invalidates the signature and removes the digital seal. When checked, the signature will show as invalid, protecting all parties involved.

Daily business processes require the constant signing of both physical and electronic documents. Whether you require a wet signature, an electronic signature, or digital sealing depends on the current and growing needs of your business and clients. As laws differ from region to region, it’s important to check your local laws with regards to the legality of electronic and digital signatures.

Our service is free to use, twice per day, whenever you need to digitize your wet signature into a standard electronic signature. For the digital signing service, you can opt for a Pro subscription of Smallpdf, which enables just this. But better yet, if you choose to “Go Pro”, we will provide you with the most streamlined singing experience: you can store signatures online, request signatures from up to 100 signees, and also have unlimited access to 20 other useful PDF tools on our site.

With millions of monthly users, we help anybody and everybody daily to convert scanned copies of physical sheets of paper to various formats (such as PDF, Word, or Excel), shrink large stacks of digital documents into email-ready sizes, and sign countless contracts and forms using the eSign tool. Get started for free today!

Hung Nguyen
Hung Nguyen
Senior Growth Marketing Manager