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What types of digital signature can I use in Adobe Acrobat PDF?


Recognising the importance of documents even as transactions shift from paper to online, Adobe has long supported digital signatures in its products including Acrobat®, Adobe Reader® and LiveCycle®.  

Adobe supports two types of digital signatures, both of which have easily identifiable “panes” in the PDF to view the signature and confirm its validity:  

  A “certifying” signature proves the origin of a document, and can lock the document against all future changes or allow specified actions such as signing, form completion, and commenting.
  An “approval” signature identifies the signer and verifies the document integrity, but multiple signatures are allowed.

Digital signatures created by QuoVadis certificates also embed in the PDF:  

  • The time the document was signed using QuoVadis’ Trusted Time-Stamp service, which is accredited to ETSI TS 102.023; and
  • A verification that the signer’s digital certificate was valid at the time of signing.  This is useful for the long term validity of the document, allowing the signature to be verified even after the signer’s digital certificate has expired. 

Digital signatures can be verified in PDFs using Acrobat (Standard or Pro ), Reader, or other open source PDF software that conforms with the PAdES standard (ETSI TS 102.778).    Digital signatures may be created using Acrobat (Standard or Pro). 

A user with Acrobat Pro can also create “extended” PDF documents and forms that can be signed by users with Reader.