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What is considered a legal signature?

Generally, a legal signature is a handwritten marking meant to identify an individual and affirm that she agrees with the terms of the document she is signing. Legal signatures are most commonly handwritten and may be printed, written in cursive or just a symbol. To be legal, a signature must be able to be attributed to an individual.

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To be legal, a signature should be made without duress, threat or coercion.


In many circumstances, electronic signatures are considered legally binding. Electronic signatures often require verification of the signer's identity by asking for a Social Security Number or other identifying information.

Illiterate Persons

An illiterate person may use an "X" or other simplified marking as a legal signature.

Initialled Signatures

If someone is incapacitated or otherwise unable physically unable to sign a document, a third party may produce a legal signature on the injured party's behalf by signing the initial party's name and initialling it.

Notarised Signatures

Many affidavits, consents and contracts must be executed in the presence of a notary public for the signature to be legal.

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About the Author

Anna Green has been published in the "Journal of Counselor Education and Supervision" and has been featured regularly in "Counseling News and Notes," Keys Weekly newspapers, "Travel Host Magazine" and "Travel South." After earning degrees in political science and English, she attended law school, then earned her master's of science in mental health counseling. She is the founder of a nonprofit mental health group and personal coaching service.

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