The story behind Initialling

Initialling was historically used to bind contract pages together into one document, to prevent pages being added after all the parties had initialled and signed the document. 

Strictly speaking, the initial is a mark, and therefore one would think it constitutes a form of “signature”, but we are yet to find reference to it in law. We can therefore draw the conclusion that the initial is nothing more than a method to bind the agreement together. In the electronic world - and especially using SignFlow digital signatures - the document is locked for editing and becomes tamper-evident after signing, thereby eliminating the need for initialling.

Using the initialling option, you can have the signer initial on every page, or selected pages. This function does not make use of cryptographic digital signatures; it simply applies an image of the initial to the document where it is applied. This type of signature is still an electronic signature, which is binding and auditable via the audit log in SignFlow.

Although redundant in the world of digital signatures, SignFlow offers this service to its users in the form of an electronic signature.

We offer our users the option of initialling for two main reasons:

1. It caters for customers that are accustomed to seeing initialling on pages, and who want to keep this culture going on electronically-signed documents.

2. Because the initial is an electronic signature, it places far less overheads on the document. It is recommended that initials are used instead of overloading a document with digital signature fields, which will slow the signing experience down.

To initial a document that has been sent to you, follow the guide below:

  1. Typically, if you've been sent a document to initial, it will have a signature field in, too. See the article on Signing a document for more a detailed guide on how to access and sign documents. 
  2. Once you have opened the document you have been sent for signing and initialling, you will see (depending on whether the document originator has opted to place an Initial field on each, or only specific, pages) a number of yellow HERE indicators. 
  3. Remember to take note of the Instructions box at the bottom of your right-hand menu, as this will guide you as to which steps to take - and in what order - to complete the signing/initialling process.

    In this case, the document originator has opted to put an initial field on each page. There are also text fields and a signature field on page four of the document, so you will be instructed to first fill in all open text fields, then initial each page and, finally, digitally sign the document. 
  4. To initial the pages, click on the INI block (the Initial field). The document originator can place this anywhere on the document. In this case, it has been placed on the bottom-right corner of each page. 
  5. You will be prompted to select an Initial Type: Draw Initial or Font Initial

    Draw Initial: You will use your mouse, trackpad or touchscreen to freehand draw your initial. While our text-smoothing technology renders good results, for optimal results we recommend you use your finger on a touchscreen device. You can Clear Initial as many times as you wish, until you have the desired result. When you are done, click Initial Document

    Font Initial: Clicking on this will bring up 7 different font initials from which you can choose. Simply click on your desired font. You can also go Back to the previous screen that gives you the option of Draw Initial or Font Initial, or you can Close to return to the document you were sent for initialling. 

  6. Before you finally initial the document - whether you have opted for a drawn or a font initial - you will be asked whether you want to apply your initial manually, or automatically to all pages in one go. 
    If you choose Apply Manually you will be required to click on the INI fields on every page to apply. The system records your first drawn initial (or font-based initial), which it will use every time you click the initial field.

    f you choose Apply Automatically, you acknowledge that you have read all the pages and by your instruction, the system will automatically apply your initial instantly throughout the document where INI fields were added for you.  This means you will not have to click on each INI field.

  7. Once you have applied your initial to all fields, you can move on to signing the document. You will see the yellow DONE indicator wherever you have initialled, while the signature field that still requires your action will have a yellow HERE indicator. 
  8. Click on the Sign Here field to apply your digital signature.
  9. As soon as you click DONE on the right-hand menu, the document will close and the document originator will receive an email notifying them that you have actioned the document.