What is a signature block?
Why are signature blocks so important in contracts?
What should be contained in a signature box?
In this article, we will break down the notion of a signature block so you know all there is to know about it.
We will first define a signature block, look at its purpose, why it’s so important and go over examples to show best practices.
Are you ready?
Let’s get started!
What is a signature block?
A signature block is a space in a letter, contract or document dedicated to receiving the signature (wet signature or electronic signature) of a person or legal entity.
The signature block will generally contain the name of the person signing, the title of the person if that person represents a company and perhaps the contact information of the person.
Define signature block
According to The Free Dictionary, they define signature block as:
“typed or printed name and title of a person appearing below a signature at the bottom of a letter, e-mail, etc.”
What’s notable in this definition is that the signature block appears below or around a signature and is generally at the bottom of a letter, email, document or contract.
The term signature block can come in many variations and abbreviations such as:
- Signature box
- Sig box
- Sig block
All these terms refer to signature blocks.
Purpose of signature blocks
The main purpose of the signature block is to have a person appose their unique signature on a document to demonstrate that he or she is agreeing or certifying the content.
Although we may take it for granted, the legal importance of a signature block should not be underestimated.
In business, most business transactions are concluded in writing where companies enter into a contractual relationship with one another.
To express their agreement with the terms of a contract, the contracting parties must execute or sign the agreement.
That’s when the signature block is very important.
The signature block makes it clear who is signing on behalf of a company so each party, allows the other party to assess if the person signing has sufficient power and authority to sign on behalf of the company.
Importance of signature blocks
The parties to a contract will conclude the negotiation of a contract and convey their intention to be legally bound by the terms of the contract by signing on the signature blocks.
Signature blocks affect the overall legality and enforceability of contracts.
If not handled properly, you may inadvertently affect the enforceability of your contract.
It happens quite often where organizations pay close attention to all the terms and conditions of a contract and the contract language except for the signature block.
If a physical person is signing on behalf of a legal entity or another physical person, it’s very important that the contract reflects that.
If not, the person acting as an agent of the other may be considered to have personally signed the contract.
Signature blocks are not just another irrelevant and unimportant aspect of a contract or a document.
A signature block is what guides the contracting parties to legally conclude and formalize a contract.
The courts will analyze the signature block to validate which person or entity is bound by the legal terms of the contract.
For example, if you intended to bind your company but you did not properly include your company’s name in the signature block, you may have actually signed the contract personally.
In that case, you may end up being personally responsible for the obligations contained in the signed document.
Signature blocks are important to assess the validity of a contract.
Say you did not have a signature block in a contract, and someone signs the contract using an unintelligible signature, without a name, title or date.
You may have many potential legal issues with the validity of your contract.
Who signed the contract?
Was the person signing personally or on behalf of someone else?
When was the signature apposed on the contract?
As of what date should the contract produce legal effects?
Did the person have signing authority?
The importance of a signature and title block should not be underestimated if you want to avoid constantly legal consequences.
Content of a signature box
A signature box should contain a few key pieces of information about the individual singing:
- Name of the physical person signing the document (example, John Doe)
- Name of the legal entity on behalf of which a physical person is signing (example, ABC Inc.)
- The capacity of the person to sign on behalf of a legal entity (example, CEO)
- The signing party’s position in the contract (example, Vendor)
- The date the party is signing (example, June 1, 20__)
- A signature line where the person will appose his or her signature
Signature block formalities
The function of the signature block is to ensure that the contracting parties have duly signed the contract.
In some cases, the signature block will require additional elements to adequately “seal the deal”.
Some contracts may require that a witness intervene.
For that, you may need to add a witness signature block.
Other contracts may require that it be signed “under seal” before a notary or a lawyer.
When additional formalities are required to ensure the contract is validly signed to produce legal effects, any additional elements needed should be added to the signature block.
Signature block examples
A signature block does not need to be complicated or fancy.
What’s important is that the name, title and party to a contract be clear to avoid any misunderstanding as to the identity of the signing party.
Company signature block
A signature block in a contract for a company can look like the following:
Considering contracts are bilateral instruments, your signature block should provide for the signature of each signing party.
If a contract has three signing parties, then your signature block should reflect three signing parties.
Physical person signature block
A contract signature block for a physical person as a signatory should look like the following:
Witness signature block
A contract or document may require a witness to sign in addition to the signing parties.
If that is the case, you’ll need to add an additional signature block for the witness.
The witness signature block can look like this:
Letter signature block
A letter will generally have a signature block at the end of it where the person writing the letter certifies or validates the content of what’s written above.
Most often, a letter is signed by one person.
As such, it is a unilateral document.
A letter signature block can look like this:
If the letter is on a company’s letterhead and bearing the company’s contact information, the signing person should only make reference to his or her title to validate that the person is acting as a representative of the organization.
If the letter does not have a standard letterhead and reference to the company the signatory is representing, then it’s best practice to use the following signature block:
In this case, the signatory is clearly conveying the message that the letter is written for ABC Inc.
Frequently asked questions
What is a block print signature?
A block-print signature is a signature where you type or print your name in block letters.
The reason why your name is typed in block letters or printed in block letters is to leave no ambiguity as to the identification of the singing person.
For example, if someone writes their name by hand and you cannot make out what’s written, you will have potential problems with the signature of your contract.
However, if the name of the person was printed in block letters like “JOHN DOE”, the identification of the person is clear.
What is the difference between a signature block and a signature field?
A signature block is where a group of signature fields.
A signature field is where a person will sign his or her name.
For example, a contract signed by two contracting parties will have two signature fields and one signature block.
Each party will sign on their own designated signature field and both signatures together represent the signature block of the contract.