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Online Signature Analysis: What Your Signature Says About You

The first recorded use of a signature was in 3000 B.C. when ancient scribes began to use symbols and words to indicate identity. A signature from El Cid in Spain is the first written signature that appears in history books.

In 1677 the English Parliament passed a law that made a signature the marker we know today. The law required that all contracts be signed as protection against fraud. When John Hancock wrote his name on the Declaration of Independence in 1776, a personal signature was considered a binding contract around the world.

Changes in Modern Signatures

By the 1980s, technology had begun to change the signature’s role. Millions of contracts were scanned and electronically faxed. Both U.S. and English legislation was altered to adopt the change.

In 2000, President Bill Clinton signed the E-Sign Act, which validated contracts and paved the way for electronic signatures. Today you probably electronically sign dozens of documents in your personal life and even more for business.  

Esignatures are fast replacing standard documents because they offer a host of benefits. Digital signatures are secure, HIPPA compliant, and easy to transmit anywhere. Recipients may sign documents on any device and then return them in seconds. It is also easy for businesses to use online signature integration to incorporate eSignatures into their workflow.

Have you ever wondered what your signature says about you? Every signature reveals information about the signer. Because it is easy to store large numbers of digital documents for long periods, there’s a good chance that thousands of people are seeing your signature.

Signature Analysis Is Revealing

Graphology is the study of handwriting to determine an individual’s personality and characteristics. Although handwriting and signature analysis is not considered an exact science, it is used in criminal investigations, by employment professionals, and sometimes to help detect mental or physical illness.

While handwritten notes and documents are being replaced by email, texts, and digital records, personal signatures are still common, primarily because they are required to make documents legal. Even eSignatures are copies of handwritten signatures, that can say a lot about a person.

You don’t need to be a graphologist to notice when a signature is clear and well-written, beautifully formed, illegible, or unique. These types of details reflect each person’s personality traits.

While it takes a professional to do in-depth handwriting analysis, there are some common characteristics that you can use to see what your signature says about you and maybe get more insight into other people.

Letter Size Matters

Larger Handwriting

The size of letters in a signature can tell an intriguing story. For example, one study that compared the signatures of 500 CEOs indicated that those with the largest signatures were more likely to be untruthful, relax internal controls, or misrepresent company earnings.

More oversized signatures have been linked to narcissism. According to Harvard Business Review, one study showed that CEOs with larger signatures were likely to perform worse than those with smaller signatures.

However, having a bigger-than-average signature does not automatically mean you’re a narcissist. It can also indicate confidence. If the first letters of your name are huge compared to the rest, you are proud and feel a strong sense of self-worth

Smaller Handwriting

A tiny signature is typically linked to a lack of self-esteem. If a signature is smaller than an individual’s handwriting, they are likely to be shy and avoid the limelight.

The Angle Sends a Message

A signature’s angle contains a tremendous amount of information.

An Upward Slant

A signature that ascends, or slants upward, signals optimism, ambition, vitality, and creativity. Highly creative people like Steve Jobs famously slanted their signatures upward.

A Downward Slant

A signature that slants downward signals a skeptic-someone who leans toward pessimism. Sometimes a signature may descend when a person goes through a rough time.

A Straight Signature

A signature that is straight, with no angle, denotes balance and control. The signer is probably well-organized and self-sufficient.

Completeness Is a Clue

Not everyone signs using their full name, which can be a clue to their personality. They may use initials, just a first name, or a nickname. For example, Apple’s Steve Wozniak merely signed, “Woz.” This points to efficiency, independence, and often a very busy person.

Legibility Tells a Story

A signature that’s hard to read can be a surprisingly positive sign. People with illegible signatures tend to be quick thinkers and are not bothered by details. They let their actions speak for them.

A clear, legible signature indicates balance, confidence, and a straightforward approach, especially with big capital letters. Bill Gate’s large, easy-to-read signature is a good example.

When One Name Is More Legible

If the first name in a signature is difficult to read, but the last name is clear and legible, the signer is cautious, reserved, and takes their time getting to know people before becoming familiar with them. When the first name is more readable, it indicates a direct, friendly, approachable person.  

Embellishments Are Indicators

Many people add “extras” to their signatures to give them a unique style. These embellishments can also provide valuable clues to an individual’s personality.

Per British Pen Shop, graphologists typically say that a signature with a closing flick often reflects determination, drive, and a proactive person. Not dotting the “i” in a signature usually indicates someone who focuses on the big picture instead of details.

Adding a line at the end of your signature signifies determination and persistence. If a signature ends with a period, the signer is self-confident, serious, and has a strong sense of self. Someone with lines going through their signature is probably self-critical and unhappy.

A general rule of thumb is that the more embellishments, the more complex the person. A simple, clear signature points to a straightforward person.

Whether your signature is recorded on a paper document or stored as an eSignature, it provides a great deal of information about you. Graphologists, or handwriting experts, can evaluate a signature and identify various personality traits. They gain insight by studying indicators that include letter size, legibility, handwriting slant, signature completeness, and embellishments.