How to sign online documents

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By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland

Q.  I received an email with a message that said, “Sign here and forward.” What do I need to do to be able to sign my name and forward it, as requested?

A.  The next time you receive one of those “sign-and-forward” messages, click the Forward button or command in your email program, which will place the message into an edit mode. You can then fill in the address of the person you want to forward it to. Next, scroll down and delete portions of the message, if any, that are appropriate to remove and add your name to the bottom as your signature. Click Send, and your message will be on its way, signed and forwarded, as requested.

Q.  I have never been able to figure out how to scan a form into Word, then fill in the required information and return it, so I always end up writing it out in longhand. Any help would be greatly appreciated, Mr. M. 

A.  When you scan a form, your scanner creates what is essentially a photograph of that form as the scanned image. When you copy that image into a word processing program such as Word, it does not "see" the individual words in the picture. For all Word knows, it could be a photo of your cat instead of a scanned document. That’s why Word won’t allow you to add data or edit the form. There are, however, a couple of ways to circumvent this issue:

One option is to place your scanned document in a desktop publishing program such as PagePlus ($99) at, then create text boxes in the spaces you want to fill in. The downside is that this is time consuming and expensive.

A better option would be to use an OCR (Optical Character Recognition) program when scanning the form. OCR is software designed to translate images of printed text (usually captured by a scanner) into machine-editable text. One popular (and free) OCR program is SimpleOCR at 

While no OCR program is perfect, the technology has come a long way in recent years. Be prepared, however, to spend some time tidying up mistakes and “untranslates” that may appear.

When all else fails, take a look at your scanner's Help files or visit the Support section of its Web site. Either or both will address the use of OCR software. You may even be pleasantly surprised to learn that you already have an OCR application that you installed with your scanner.

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