This is part two of a three part series on adding your signature to digital files. In the first part, we discussed making a TIFF of your signature. In this part, we'll discuss adding your signature to a contract, if it's sent to you as an editable Microsoft Word file.

If you want to play along with the home game, you can download the signature, a sample Microsoft Word contract and a sample PDF contract by clicking the links.

For this step, you'll need:

*I'm using Microsoft Office 2008 on a Mac. This should work in programs like Open Office, Pages, or other word processing programs, but the individual steps my vary. You can refer to your help menu or user manual for more guidance.

Before we get started, let me just say that word processors are called, "word processors" because they are meant to, um, process words. I know, obvious. But the point is that word processors are not layout design tools. They support including images and spreadsheets and flow charts and various and sundry other bells and whistles, but just as you'd want to track your businesses expenses in Excel, not Word, you need to accept that Word manages layout design duty the way Carrot Top manages his face (it ain't pretty.) All this is to say that while Word does an acceptable job of allow you to plop your signature into a document, it's not an ideal solution. Personally, if it's an option, I'd rather save the document as a PDF and use the method I'll be outlining in the third and final portion of this tutorial. But it's good to know these skills, regardless, so I'm covering them here.

Begin by opening your contract in Microsoft Word.

Place your cursor where you'd like to place your signature and go to INSERT | PICTURE | FROM FILE

import image
Insert picture

Navigate to your signature and double click it.

Note: If the image is grayed out, it means the signature is a file format your word processor doesn't support. Word is pretty accommodating, open source alternatives may be more restrictive. If your image file format is not supported in your word processing program, open your signature in your photo editing software and save it as another file format. JPEG should work fine for this purpose.

Your image will now appear somewhere near where your cursor was. It has probably caused portions of the page to reflow, move or shift in some aesthetically unpleasing way. Depending on how the page is formatted, it may look acceptable or it may look more like the example below.

signature on the paeg
Image imported

Double click the signature to pull up the Format Picture dialog box. Your dialog box may look different than the image below. Look along the left side and choose the LAYOUT option from the list.

format picture - layout
Format Picture Layout options

From the Wrap Style icons, choose IN FRONT OF TEXT. When you make edits, in the dialog box, you'll see changes happening on the page. Do not be alarmed if your picture jumps around even if it's not in you view at that moment. Click OK to continue.

Find your signature on the page. Mine jumped down to the bottom. Remember what I said about Word being a not-good tool for layout? This is a good example. Why changing the wrap should send the image hurtling to the bottom of the page is beyond me, but there it is.

free range signature
Signature on the loose

Move your cursor over the signature, click it and drag it into position. In Word, I place it just above the signature line so that it doesn't overlap. You can drag the corner of the signature, holding down your SHIFT key so it doesn't distort, to adjust its size on the page.

moved and resized
Signature in the right place, at the right size

Depending on how your contract is formatted, the underlines may be created by applying an underline style, adding an underline to a tab stop or by typing an underscore repeatedly. I find the last used most often so that's what's in our sample contract, but in any of those cases, you'll probably need to include the date and your name somewhere. Unless someone has made an interactive form, there's really no pretty way to handle this short of reformatting someone else's file so I usually just settle for the"good enough" solution that follows.

Select enough underscore characters to accommodate the date. If you are using a MM/DD/YY type format, you won't need to select many characters. If you are using the FULLMONTH DAY, YEAR format, you may need to select the whole line.

select the line where the date goes
Selected underscores

Type in the date. If you removed too many underscores, you can simply type additional ones in. If you didn't select enough underscores and some have jumped to the next line, just delete them.

Repeat this process for your name.

do the same for your name
Add your name

And that's it!

You can email your contract back as is, or save it as a PDF if you prefer. Personally, I'd rather send a PDF which can be locked so that the signature file cannot be reused. It's not a foolproof plan but handing a high quality picture of your signature off to someone you barely know, just seems a little unwise.

As a freelance designer, I sign a lot of contracts. It's just part of working with businesses on a project by project basis, and about 99% of the time, those contracts come to me as digital files.

I have a fax machine at home, and I could print out my contract, sign it, fax it to the person who needs it, who probably gets their faxes printed out on more paper and then I could wait to get a copy of the version they signed, and file that away, but honestly, that seems wasteful and unnecessarily labor intensive. I'm also partial to storing files digitally so the paper workflow is not ideal. I have enough unsorted clutter in my house.

As a side note, while I'm posting this as a knitwear design tutorial, it really is just a useful thing to know in general. This skill was invaluable when we were buying a house, and again when we refinanced. If you are applying for jobs, filling out contracts, or signing any file you receive digitally, you can use the methods I'll be covering.

In this post, we'll be covering the creation of a reusable image of your signature. Because I'm not completely out of my gourd, I am going to be using a signature of my nom de rien, Lady Awesome Pants, as opposed to my actual real signature, which someone might want to use for nefarious reasons.

In the following posts, we'll discussing using the image to sign your contract.

If you want to play along with the home game, you can download the signature, a sample Microsoft Word contract and a sample PDF contract by clicking the links. You can also download the unretouched scan of the signatures, here.

For this step, you'll need:

  • pen
  • paper
  • scanner or digital camera
  • Adobe Photoshop or photo editing software of choice*

*I'm using Adobe Photoshop CS5 on a Mac. If you are using a different photo editing software, you may need to refer to your user's manual.

Find yourself a good, medium point, dark (preferably black) ink pen and a clean piece of paper (no lines, no show-through from anything printed on the other side) and write your name and/or initials a bunch of times. Try to do this on a surface that's not too hard, a catalogue under your piece of paper works nicely. Press firmly as you sign. You don't want a light whispy signature, you want something clear and legible.

signature samples
Signature Samples

Once you know you have at least a few examples that you like, get ready to scan your page. I usually scan the whole page. Sometimes, it's not until after you've cleaned up the scan, that you can tell which signature will work best. I like to scan at a high resolution, in grayscale, to ensure I get all the detail I need with no unnecessary noise.

Scanning settings

If you don't have a scanner, you can photograph your signatures with a digital camera, just make sure you do so in good, natural light, on a background that won't show through your paper and that the signatures are in focus.

Depending on your scanner, your digital camera, the lighting, and whether or not you fed your Mogwai after midnight, your digital file may be too dark or too light or otherwise somewhere short of perfection.

Note: If you scanned or photographed your signature in color, convert your file to Grayscale by going to IMAGE | MODE | GRAYSCALE before proceeding.

This raw scan is not living up to its full potential

In Photoshop, go to IMAGE | ADJUST | LEVELS

This will bring up a set of sliders that will allow you to clean up your scan. Bring the black triangle as close to the white triangle as possible. That will make everything on the page either pure white or pure black and remove all shades of gray. Play around with moving them more to the left and more to the right. One direction will make your lines appear thicker, the other will make them thinner.

adjust levels
Adjust Levels

Next we'll convert the mode to Bitmap. Your image must already be grayscale for this option to be available. If it's not grayscale, convert it now. Bitmap files are made up of only black and white pixels, no shades of gray, no color. This is a good format for pixel based logos and line art. Additionally, many programs, like InDesign, Quark and other desktop publishing applications, will view the white pixels in bitmap images as transparent, which can be useful with signatures that are supposed to sit on a line. You'll see how this works in the InDesign portion of this tutorial, to come at a later date.



Convert image to Bitmap
Change Mode to Bitmap

Choose 50% Threshold from the Method drop-down. I like a resolution of about 1200 dpi. I would avoid going below 1000 dpi.

bitmap settings
Settings for conversion to Bitmap

If you adjusted your Levels properly, you won't notice much change in your file. If your signature looks too washed out or too blobby (technical term) after conversation, that means you didn't adjust your Levels slider to be close enough together. Simply undo and adjust your Levels further.

If you are happy with the results, you can crop your image so that you only have your favorite signature visible.

cropped signature

Save your file as a TIFF.

Save as tiff

You might be thinking, "But Marnie, what is this TIFF madness of which you speak? Why can't I save it as a JPEG?"

JPEGs do not support the BITMAP format because JPEGs are always, RGB (color) images. So all that work converting to a bitmap, to make a good quality piece of line art, will be lost. It will still work well enough, but if your image software supports Bitmap and TIFF format, that's the way to go.

That's all there is to it. You now have a lovely file of your own signature, that you can use to sign digital files.

In the next tutorial, we'll talk about using the file to sign Microsoft Word documents and in the third and final installment, we'll use this file in InDesign and talk about adding typed text to PDF forms.

Past the point of no return


For someone who rarely has occasion to wear anything fancier than pajamas and even fewer occasions to wear anything fancier than jean, it might be a little weird to love to sew dresses so much, even if it's a fun polka dot dress with a pink sash.

McCall's 6557_10

But you could always chalk that up to being more into the process than product of one's craft.

There are some peculiarities that are harder to write off, like rushing to your craft room after work, pulling out more pink satin and sewing it up while laughing maniacally, then using your lunch break to take another round of pictures, like this:

Bow Tie07

And possibly this:

Bow Tie08

And of course this:

Bow Tie02

If Leo divorces me and takes Darwin with him, you'll know why. It was worth it, though.

Did you see the new Twist?

| 1 Comment

I have two garment patterns in the newest Twist Collective.

The first is Lacewing, a feminine little tee, with a very adjustable neckline. It's worked in Kollage Corntastic and is trimmed with butterfly motifs around the hem and sleeves. I hope this is the sort of garment that people knit and love to wear because it's both flattering and comfortable. There's a bit of waist shaping, but not so much as to be clingy, and strategically placed lace meant to add femininity without being revealing or impractical. The pattern features tutorials for two types of picot cast ons that will be nice and stretchy so the hems form those beautiful scallops.

The second piece is Regent. This is the sort of garment I love both wearing and knitting. It's worked in a Catherine Lowe merino/silk blend, and features deep fluted ruffles around the entire cardigan and has a flattering curved hem. The optional tie can be used to cinch in the waist, but wearing it loose or with a purchased belt, works just as well. While I love ruffles, I always worry that they start to look clownish if one isn't careful. I wanted to make sure that these fell gracefully around the body. I think this is really wearable in a dark neutral shade, but imagine this worked with something a little more shimmery and it's perfect over a summer dress. Work it in a functional 100% wool, and you can wear it around the house in the fall, instead of turning up the heat.

Of course, these are just two of many great new patterns available in the edition. You've got to see some of the gorgeous socks, shawls and many more garments. I know there's no pleasing everyone, but it's hard for me to imagine that anyone couldn't find something they love in the edition. So check out the whole magazine, including all the great articles, here.

As a side note, I've contacted Carol, whose number was randomly chosen in the Kate Atherley book giveaway.

Thanks to everyone who left a comment. It's always reassuring to find out that crafting and cooking failures are pretty universal for people who do either.



If you've ever watched videos of people doing free motion quilting, it always looks so easy and fun. It might be the latter but it's most certainly not the former. I am glad I kept to a not-too-ambitious project for my first go at it.

Quilted Pillows_18

These should fit in nicely in our breakfast nook which is currently upholstered in blue and white fabric against yellow walls, though we plan to change all of that, someday.

Quilted Pillows_14

They are stuffed with polyfil, and backed with medium weight muslin.

Quilted Pillows_09

The fabric is Moda Hometown and a single layer cake will make 9 of these 15" pillow tops or 4, 9 square pillows around 23" wide. You can get even more out of the layer cake if you don't insist on making all the accent squares dark red as I did.

Quilted Pillows_04

If you want to try making these blocks yourself, here's a schematic (you can click through to get to the option to embiggen it)

Quilted Pillows_21

The center row, with the two extra seams, will be an inch narrower than the top and bottom row so you'll have to trim down the block after assembly, to make it square.

Quilted Pillows_08

You have been looking at the pillows, right? I mean, there wasn't anything distracting you in those photos, I hope.

Quilted Pillows_12

It's important to focus on what matters.

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