Using a signature pad to sign a PDF

Customers sometimes ask if they can connect an electronic signature pad to a laptop to sign an Adobe PDF document in Adobe Acrobat or Adobe Reader. The answer is yes, you can. However, support for signature pads requires drivers and plug-ins to Acrobat or Adobe Reader. Also, the PDF document must have the necessary usage rights applied in Adobe LiveCycle Reader Extensions ES to activate the functionality within Adobe Reader (version 7 of later) that enables users to sign the document.

Adobe lists several partners that support electronic signature pads on the Adobe Security Partner Community. Visit the site and have a look at CIC, Interlink, and SoftPro. These partners provide solutions that can enable you to sign Signature fields in PDF forms.

You can also use a device like a Wacom tablet (not a dedicated signature pad) to sign a PDF document in Acrobat or Adobe Reader. In Adobe Acrobat 9.0 (or later), you can select the Apply Ink Signature option available on the Sign & Certify menu, (Advanced > Sign & Certify), to enable the Pencil commenting tool. With this solution, users can sign or write anywhere in the PDF document. However, the document’s integrity is not locked down after the document is signed, like it is when you the use one of the signature pad solutions from one of the providers mentioned above. In Adobe Reader, users can sign the PDF document as long as the necessary functionality is enabled in Adobe LiveCycle Reader Extensions ES, and the appropriate plug-in is installed for the signature software that uses the Wacom tablet.

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9 Responses to Using a signature pad to sign a PDF

  1. Scott Cline says:

    I am looking to be able to sign a PDF document.

  2. Drew says:

    Hi Scott,

    Thanks for your comment.

    You can use a Signature Field or a Button object to sign a PDF document, depending on whether you want to sign the form and data, or just the data.

    If you want to sign the form and data, you can add a Signature Field object to your form. Form recipients can then click the field to sign the form and data with their digital certificate. Using digital certificates can prevent data tampering and authenticate the identity of the person filling the form. Digital certificates are available from a variety of security providers.

    If you want to sign just the data, you can add a Button object. After you configure the Button object to sign and submit form data, form recipients can then click the button to submit and sign the data in the form.

    Keep in mind that using a Signature Field object to the form can increase the file size, because the submission includes a copy of the PDF document each time the document is signed.

    If the file size is a concern, using a Button object might be the better option for you.

    For more information, see these topics in the LiveCycle Designer Help: Digital Signatures in PDF Workflows and Submitting data using a button.

    I hope this helps.

  3. NIKOBAMYE says:

    I need this product to sign my pdf documents.
    How can i get it?

  4. Drew says:


    Thanks for your inquiry. For more information on LiveCycle Designer see

  5. Matic says:

    i’m getting a strange error while trying to sign with topaz’s signature pad. it says something about COM1 port not detected or avaliable. ow can i fix this, i have all the necesary plug-ins for acrobat 9

  6. Wayne says:

    I have the signature function working with my pdf. I’d like to know if I can limit the space where a signature can be put.
    What I mean is when a signature is placed on a document using a tablet, do I need a plug-in, script, or is it something in LiveCycle/Acrobat that limits the space that a signature can be placed.
    p.s. I am using a MAC, but am running LiveCycle through Bootcamp. It would be optimal to get this going through on the Mac side and just use Acrobat. Although, I don’t mind getting the PDF setup through Bootcamp.

    Please advise. Thank you very much in advance.

  7. Tyler says:

    To elaborate on what Wayne is saying, when one uses a Wacom tablet or similar non-Topaz device to sign the PDF, the user can write anywhere on the page as stated in the third paragraph. What is desired is to allow the signer to sign anywhere on the tablet and have that signature fit in just the signature field. It would be great if there is a plugin to get Wacom tablets to work with Topaz signing where that the PDF is locked upon signing but I suppose that just constraining the signature to the box is sufficient enough.