How Signatures Work

When it comes to signatures, there are two high-level concepts to understand:

  • The act of signing. How a party actually signs documents.
  • Signature blocks. How Magistrate prepares the signature blocks, the place on the document the party signs.

The act of signing

We've always thought that the fake cursive signatures that most electronic signature platforms make you use when e-signing a contract are silly. Magistrate instead uses something called a "conformed signature."

When a person signs the document, the place where they signed will display something like /s/ Jane Smith. This means the document has been signed by that party, and this conformed signature is the valid representation of a person's signature.

The unique ID of the signer, together with the signer's IP address and timestamp are attached to and recorded alongside the conformed signature.

Signature blocks

Magistrate looks at the parties in your envelope and creates signature blocks that are formatted in the style recommended by the Manual of Style for Contract Drafting.

If the party is a human, the signature block looks like this:

  _____________________   Harry Khanna

If the party is an entity, the signature block looks like this:


  By: _____________________   Name: Harry Khanna   Title: Chief Executive Officer

The signer clicks their signature block to sign the contract. When they do, a conformed signature is affixed and the signature block looks like this:


  By: /s/ Harry Khanna   Name: Harry Khanna   Title: Chief Executive Officer

Magistrate automatically adds these signature blocks to the bottom of your document, which means you should not include them yourself in the body of the document. If there's more than 1 document in your envelope, only the first document gets signature blocks.

Custom signature blocks

In custom blueprints, you can opt out of Magistrate's default approach to signature blocks. Instead, you define one or more places where the signature blocks should appear.