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How to sign a contract properly

by Abari Abbassi / Jan 24, 2024
How to sign a contract properly

Signing contracts marks the closing act of negotiations, a formal pledge requiring meticulous attention and caution. Whether you're a seasoned professional or a novice in the realm of contracts, mastering the art of signing involves a systematic process to safeguard your interests and ensure a smooth business transaction. Here's a comprehensive guide on how to sign a contract properly, covering key steps and considerations.

1. Review the contract thoroughly

Before anything else, dedicate time to thoroughly review the entire contract. Understand the terms, conditions, and obligations outlined. Familiarize yourself with the fine print, and ensure that it accurately reflects the agreed-upon terms. This initial step sets the foundation for a successful and transparent contractual relationship.

2. Verify it’s the contract you have agreed to sign

Don't assume that the document presented for signature aligns with your negotiated terms. Take the extra moment to verify that the contract in front of you is indeed the final version reflecting your agreements. Avoid potential discrepancies by ensuring the document matches your expectations.

3. Verify your authority to sign

Confirm your own authority to sign on behalf of your entity. If you're representing a company, ensure that you have the legal capacity to bind the organization. This step prevents later claims of unauthorized signatures and reinforces the legitimacy of the contractual commitment.

4. Verify the other party’s authority to sign

Similarly, confirm the authority of the other party to sign the contract. Verify the legal existence of the entity, check the signatory's authorization, and ensure that the contract aligns with the approval processes of the other party’s stakeholders. This proactive approach minimizes the risk of disputes related to unauthorized signatures.

5. Make sure both parties sign the contract

Basic yet crucial, ensure that both parties involved in the agreement sign the contract. This tangible evidence of mutual commitment establishes the contract's legal validity and reinforces the intention to be bound by its terms.

6. Make changes before you sign

If changes are necessary, address them before signing. Ideally, incorporate revisions into the final version of the contract. Timely adjustments prevent misunderstandings and ensure that the document accurately represents the intentions of all parties involved.

7. Initialize last-minute changes

In cases where it's not possible to revise the contract before signing, ensure that any last-minute changes made by hand are initialed by all parties. This practice enhances clarity and serves as a safeguard against potential disputes arising from conflicting interpretations.

8. Get all promises in writing

Ensure that all promises, commitments, or special arrangements are explicitly documented within the contract. This practice eliminates ambiguity and provides a clear reference point in case of future disputes. A well-documented agreement protects all parties involved.

9. Never sign a contract with blank spaces

Avoid the risk of unauthorized additions or alterations by refusing to sign contracts with blank spaces. Cross out any irrelevant clauses or spaces that don’t apply to your agreement. This precautionary step ensures that the document is complete and accurately reflects the agreed terms.

10. Date the contract

While not mandatory, dating the contract adds clarity and context. Specify the effective date of the agreement, and if necessary, consider retroactive dating (where legally permissible). This practice helps establish a chronological context for the contract.

11. Don’t sign if you have doubts

Trust your instincts. If you harbor doubts or uncertainties about any aspect of the contract, refrain from signing until your concerns are addressed. Seeking clarification or legal advice at this stage can prevent complications down the road.

12. Keep an original signed copy

Each party should retain an original signed copy of the contract. Whether in physical or digital form, this ensures that both parties have an identical record of the agreement. An original signed copy serves as a crucial reference point and evidence in case of disputes.

13. Understand that an electronic signature holds the same value

In the digital age, electronic signatures have gained widespread acceptance. Understand that, legally, an electronic signature holds the same value as a physical one. If signing electronically, ensure compliance with relevant electronic signature laws and regulations.

By following these steps, you empower yourself to navigate the contract signing process with confidence and precision. Mastering the art of contract signing is not just about the act itself. It's about establishing a foundation of trust and clarity that underpins successful business relationships.

Written by Abari Abbassi

Founder of Signer HQ


Start signing contracts today.