by Allen Wyatt
(last updated January 11, 2016)
Len often uses Word to send letters and he usually pastes a scanned copy of his signature into the document. He worries, however, that it can be deleted or misused, so he wonders if there is a way to paste it into the document (it's a JPG file) and have it secured in some way.
The short answer is that there is no way to protect your signature (or any other graphics file) that you place in your document. There are, however, several things you can do to make it more difficult to use. For instance, you could protect the document by restricting editing. (To start, display the Review tab of the ribbon and click the Restrict Editing tool.) You could also save your document out in PDF format, which would stop the individual signature image from being selected.
The reason that you can't get absolute protection, of course, is that if you can see the image it can be grabbed, in some way or another, and saved electronically. It is rather trivial to grab a screen shot of the signature and then crop it down in a different graphics editing program. (This approach doesn't care whether you are using a Word document or a PDF document—both are just as easy to grab.)
The only way to stop your signature from potentially being misused is to not include your signature in the document. This isn't as flippant a suggestion as it sounds. For instance, you might use a "modified" signature in the document, such as only your first name instead of your full signature. You might also find a handwriting font and type your name in using the font. This gives a nice decorative touch, but it doesn't include your actual signature.
For more important documents where the receiver needs to be sure that the document came from you, you might consider forgoing the graphic signature and, instead, use a digital signature. Digital signatures have been available for e-mail messages for years. (You can do an Internet search to find tons of information about digital e-mail signatures.) Word, however, also offers digital signatures for your documents. Here's an article at Microsoft's site that discusses it in more detail:
Even though the article was written specifically for Word 2007, its contents also apply to later versions of Word.
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