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A common request I’ve gotten over the years is “how can I enable someone to sign their name electronically” within an Excel spreadsheet. In my latest installment I will walk you through exactly how to do so through a built-in Excel tool.
While Excel does offer a Signature Line feature on the Insert tab that can be used to mark a document as final, this article will focus the Scribble drawing tool in Excel that anyone can use with their mouse or even finger on a touch-enabled stylus.
To add any sort of freehand text to an Excel spreadsheet:
- Choose the Insert menu in Excel 2007 and later.
- Click the Shapes command.
- Choose Scribble either from the Recently Used Shapes section or at the end of the Lines section.
- Your cursor will change to a pencil icon while the Scribble tool is enabled.
Figure 1: The Scribble tool can be found in two places on the Shapes menu.
At this point you can use your mouse to draw freehand on the screen. On touch-enabled devices you can use your mouse or a stylus to sign, but only in the desktop-based versions of Excel. Note that Excel for Mobile devices doesn’t offer the Signature Line or the Scribble feature.
When you stop writing, the Scribble tool automatically turns off. As illustrated in Figure 2, writing the word Excel will require you to activate the Scribble tool twice. When a freehand object is selected, Excel will display a Drawing Tools Format menu within the menu interface known as the Ribbon.
You can add additional freehand objects by choosing the Scribble tool from the palette at the start of the Drawing Tools Format tab. Whatever text you wrote appears in the form of a freehand object that floats above the spreadsheet. To remove this object, click once on it, and then press the Delete key.
Figure 2: Each time you release your mouse the Scribble tool will turn off. When we write the word Excel, we will have to enable the tool twice.
You can temporarily hide freeform shapes on the worksheet by way of Excel’s Selection pane. To do so:
- Choose the Home menu in Excel 2007 and later.
- Click Find and Select.
- Choose Selection pane from the bottom of the Find and Select menu.
At this point a Selection pane will appear onscreen. As shown in Figure 3, freeform shapes on the worksheet will be named Freeformx where x is a number assigned by Excel. When you click the “eye” icon next to a freeform shape, the freeform shape will become hidden. The shape will reappear when you click “eye” again.
Figure 3: The Selection pane allows you to temporarily hide freeform shapes.
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David H. Ringstrom, CPA, is an author and nationally recognized instructor who teaches scores of webinars each year. His Excel courses are based on over 25 years of consulting and teaching experience. His mantra is “Either you work Excel, or it works you.” David offers spreadsheet and database consulting services nationwide.