Office of Information TechnologyAdobe Electronic SignaturesHow to Prepare a Word Document for Signature (print version)

How to Prepare a Word Document for Signature (print version)

The objective of this article is to guide through the setup, routing, and saving  of a document requiring multiple signatures.  In the example below, we will be using a Word document, which we will then save as a PDF before we send it out for signature.

Warning: Adobe Sign is a very linear process.  Once you have completed a step, you cannot go back to the previous one.

Abbreviated Instructions

  1. Open the document in Word and save it as a PDF file.
  2. With the document open in Adobe, click the Fill & Sign tool.
  3. Fill out the routing form to set recipients.
  4. Place signature fields, edit them if needed, and click Sign, then Send.
  5. (Situational) Sign the document, if you included yourself as the first signer
  6. Look for notification emails as each person signs.
  7. Download the final "Signed and Filed" document and save it.

Detailed Instructions with Pictures

(1) Open the Document in Word and save it as a PDF file.

With the document open in Word, click "File" (#1 below) and choose "Save as Adobe PDF" (#2).  Select your save location (#3), name your file (#4), and click "Save" (#5).

(2) With the document open in Adobe, click the Fill & Sign tool.

The PDF of your document should open in Adobe automatically.  (If it doesn't, open Adobe manually and open your file. Log in with your Adobe ID if prompted)

Click "Fill & Sign" from the tools pane on the right (see red arrow pictured below)

You will now see a screen asking "Who needs to fill and sign?"  You will see two options:

1. If you want to sign the document immediately before sending it to others, select "Fill and sign."  (#1 below)

2. If you want to send it to other people first, select "Request signatures."  Note that if you choose this option you can still include yourself as a signer (#2 below)

If you selected "Request signatures," proceed directly to the next step.

If you selected "Fill and sign", you will be prompted to manually add your signature.  See How to Sign any PDF that hasn't been Prepared through Adobe Sign (video) for how to do this.  Click "Next" when finished.  Then save your document when prompted, select "Request Signatures" from the three options provided, and click "Get Started" to send to other signers.

(3) Fill out the Routing Form to Designate Recipients

After completing step two above, the routing form will open (pictured below).  This is where you will enter the emails of the signers, craft a message to them, add additional documents, and more:

1. Type the emails of the people who need to sign here.  By default, they will sign in the order they appear on this line (this can be changed under More Options). Make sure to include your own email if you also need to sign. (#1 below)

2. Click here to add a CC field where you can type in the email of anyone you want to view the document but not sign it.  They will receive one message when the document goes out, and another when all parties have finished signing.

3. Enter a customized subject line and message text you want the signers to see.  Include any special instructions here.

4. Your active document will be listed under "File(s)."  If you want to add additional files for signature, click "Add Files."  Note: all files added here will be merged into a SINGLE pdf.

5. When you're done, click "Specify Where to Sign" to move to the next step.

Advanced Routing Options (if you select "More Options" [#6] above)

If you want a more advanced routing form screen, click More Options (#6 ).

  1. Enter recipient emails.  Drag to reorder.  If the order of signers doesn't matter, change the slider to "Complete in Any Order"
  2. Click here to add yourself as a signer
  3. Include a person in CC if they do not need to sign but want to know about the routing
  4. Edit the message subject and body if needed
  5. The file name will show up here. Drag in any additional files if needed
  6. Preview & Add Signature Fields should be checked by default
  7. Click the Next button when finished

(4) Place Signature Fields in the Document

You will now be taken to this screen:

The next step is to indicate who needs to sign where by adding signature, date, or other fields to the document.  To do this, follow these instructions: [OR Click #4 above: "Switch to Advanced Mode"]

1 ) Select a signer in the top-right panel (#1 above).  

2) Left-click in the document to create a field wherever you want that signer to enter information (#2 above).  (Note: Adobe does a good job of automatically recognizing areas where a field might belong.  It also color-codes fields to make it easy to distinguish between signers.)

  • Once a field is placed, edit it to make sure it is the correct type (signature, date, text, etc.), the correct signer, and the correct size/location.  For this step see "How to Edit a Field" below.

3 ) Repeat this process until all required fields are placed for each signer.

4 ) Once all your fields are ready, click "Sign, then Send" (#3 above)

How to Edit a Field: when a field is selected (left click on it) there are several things you can do to modify it and make sure it is what you need:

  • Resize: Click and drag the bottom-right corner to make the field bigger or smaller.
  • Move: Hover your cursor near the inner edge of the field (your mouse will turn into a four-way arrow icon) and drag the field wherever you need it.
  • Delete: Press the "Delete" key on your keyboard.
  • Assign it to a different signer (#1 below): Click the "v" drop-down and select someone else.
  • Make it a "text" field (#2)
  • Make it a "Signature" field (#3) [This one's important!  Make sure all the fields you need signatures in are properly designated as Signature fields]
  • Advanced options  (#4) gives you the options to change it to a name field, date field, email field, or checkbox.  You also have the option to delete the field.
Click here if you prefer to use Advanced Mode

If you choose Advanced Mode, you will now see a different interface with a few more options.

Click the recipients drop-down menu on the right to see the the recipients you entered before (#1 pictured below.)  Notice that each of the Recipients has its own colored square to the left of the name/email. Adobe uses this color coding to show the recipients where to sign. 

Select a Recipient from the drop-down options, then drag the Signature from the Signature Fields and place it in the correct location on the document  (#2 and #3 pictured below.)

Repeat these steps for the other signatures by changing the Recipient on the drop-down until all the signature fields are prepared for routing (#4 pictured below.)

When the form and signatures are ready for routing, click the Sign Then Send button (#5 pictured below.)

(5) Sign the document (if you included yourself as the first signer)

If you were the first person on the routing form earlier, Adobe will present the form to you for review and signature. 

Click the Start tabby to review all the fields or scroll to the signature line (#1 and #2 pictured below.) 

Click inside the signature field to add your electronic signature (#3 pictured below.)  For detailed instructions, see How to Sign a Document Sent through Adobe Sign (video).

When you are done, click the Click to Sign button. 

(6) Look for Notification Emails

After you have completed step 5, you will see a screen in Adobe telling you that the document has been sent to the next signer for signature.  At this point, you can close Adobe.  

You will also receive an email letting you know that the document has started routing. You have various options to access the document during routing, such as opening the attachment (highlighted below) or from your Adobe dashboard through a link (highlighted below.)

(7) Download the Final "Signed and Filed" Document and Save it.

You will continue receiving emails notifying you of the progress throughout routing until you get one final email including the text "Signed and Filed" in the subject line. 

When you receive the final "Signed and Filed" email, you will want to save the signed document and save it to the correct location in Box.

There are two choices on how to do this:

  1. Without the audit page attached (recommended)
  2. With the audit page attached

(What's the audit page?  It's a page Adobe automatically creates and adds to the end of the document, providing details about who signed and when)

To save it without the audit page, click the link in the email (shown below.)

This will open the final signed document in Adobe. Click the Download PDF button on the right rail (#1 below.) When it downloads, the file is saved in the Downloads folder in Windows and appears on the bottom-left corner of your browser.

To save it to another location: do not click the file itself (that will just open it in Adobe Online again), but instead click the caret to the right (#2 below.) Select Show in Folder (#3 below).  When your Downloads folder appears with the file listed, double-click the file (#4 below) to open it in the desktop version of Adobe Acrobat.

Shortcut: navigate to your Downloads folder and cut and paste the file wherever you need it.

Once it is open in Adobe (notice the highlights below), save it in Box using File --> Save As.

To save it with the audit page is easier but may not be appropriate to send externally and a signed PDF cannot have pages removed. 

If the audit page is not an issue in your case, simply select the caret to the right of the file attached (#1 below), select Save to Box, and find the correct folder location in Box (#2 below) then click Save (#3 below.)

If you forget to save the final signed document from email and you lose and cannot find the email, don't panic. There is a backup of all documents you route for signature in your account's Adobe dashboard, stored on Adobe's servers.  See How to Manage Sent and Received Adobe Sign Documents (formerly Adobe Sign Dashboard)

(Optional) Tips, Warnings, and Information

Helpful tips to do it right, better, or faster.

  • If you want to reassign the color of a field so that it is assigned to a different recipient, left-click on the field and select Edit from the drop-down options. 
  • Click on the Signer Info Fields to drag other fields to the form if needed. For example, date or email of the signer.

Warnings of what can go wrong.

  • You cannot edit or change a document that has started routing for signature. You also cannot edit or change a document that has been signed with Adobe Sign. A signed document is considered final.
  • Launching Adobe Sign from the Open button in Box will not work because we no longer have access to this feature.  It will simply open your Adobe DC portal.

Where to find additional information about this topic.


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