Scanned Handwritten Signatures

​​​​Due to privacy and security concerns, we recommend not using scanned images of handwritten signatures in emails, public correspondence and printed materials. If scanned images of handwritten signatures are used, we recommend the following precautions.

Summary of Precautions

  • Do not insert signature image files into emails.
  • Password-protect or encrypt any file containing a signature image file.
  • Avoid sending signature image files to external organizations.

N.B. It is important to remember that any signature, hard copy or electronic, could be fraudulently stolen. Therefore precautions should be taken to minimize the risk of misappropriation.

Precautions for the use of scanned handwritten signatures:

  • Do not insert a signature image file into the body of an email.
  • Do not save or distribute Word documents containing a signature image file.
  • Always export to a password-protected or, preferably, encrypted PDF before distributing a document containing a signature. Password-protection or encryption adds a level of security, as a signature image can be cropped out from a PDF file.
  • If it is absolutely necessary to save a Word document containing a signature file, password-protect the file. Instructions are available for Microsoft Word 2010 and Microsoft Word 2003.
  • Once a file (PDF or Word document) is password-protected or encrypted, do not send the password in the same email as the attached file. If the password must be shared, it is preferable to provide it over the phone rather than in an email.
  • Avoid sending scanned handwritten signatures to external organizations (publishers, designers, etc), if possible.
    • If it is necessary to send a scanned handwritten signature to an external organization, do ensure that the signature image file is permanently deleted after use. Also, be mindful of how a signature image file is sent to outside organizations particularly if it is sent as an attachment to a web-based email address (Gmail, Hotmail, etc).

Alternative to Scanned Handwritten Signatures

Instead of using a scanned copy of a handwritten signature, the new UBC brand email signature is recommended for electronic communications.

How to avoid displaying an image as an attachment

Images inserted into email signatures (e.g., logos) sometimes appear as attachments for the recipients. This can occur due to a variety of technical factors at either the sender’s or the receiver’s end. The following tips can help to avoid displaying an image as an attachment.

As a sender:

As a receiver:

  • View emails in HTML or Rich Text format and not in Plain Text format.
  • Add contacts to your address book or safe senders’ list to ensure images are not blocked by security software.


If you have any questions about the use of scanned handwritten signatures or the new UBC brand email signature, please contact the Communications Team.