When you get an email from your employer, say HR, saying "Fill in and sign this form and return to me" how do you deal with it?

I have worked at my current employer long enough that I do not remember how I handled this before, and it may have been when such things were less frequently dealt with by email. At this employer I have opened the PDF file in Libreoffice Draw, edited or added text boxes to fill in the form fields, copied in an image of my signature, exported as PDF and emailed the result back. My employer is fine with this, it seems to fit with how they work. However in one instance I did that with a third company form and the response I got indicated that they did not expect me to do so, and may have been upset by it.

I am currently looking for other opportunities, and it occurred to me that it is probably worth knowing how most companies expect such forms to be handled.

I live and work in the UK, and work in science if that is relevant.

  • 1
    Why don't you ask HR? If it's a common form (for example, you're a new hire or it went out to everybody), you can also ask your colleagues. If it's something you'd prefer to keep private, you can probably still ask your manager.
    – Llewellyn
    Mar 28, 2022 at 17:46
  • I know my current employer's HR dept. is fine with it, I have sent many this way. I just wondered how it works elsewhere, and if there is a "default", that I could consider while looking for other roles. I am a little surprised about the VTC's with no comment, perhaps this is a sensitive topic?
    – User65535
    Mar 28, 2022 at 18:18
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    I don't think it's sensitive. I'm guessing the "opinion-based" voter thinks that there isn't a norm for this. (Including your country and industry might help.)
    – BSMP
    Mar 28, 2022 at 19:10
  • What is the point of us answering this question? The only answer that matters is the one coming from your employer. Mar 29, 2022 at 1:01

4 Answers 4


You should ask the person who sent it to you to clarify what they want you to do. That would be the standard procedure in most companies for every situation where you are unsure exactly how to complete a task someone has asked you to do.


Assuming that they aren't using electronic signatures, I would expect that the PDF would be printed and filled out/signed with a pen. Then, the PDF would either be scanned and emailed back or mailed back in an envelope.

  • Acrobat DC just has the electronic signature option. You can add one for any PDF you open.
    – BSMP
    Mar 28, 2022 at 16:24
  • 1
    @BSMP Correct me if I'm wrong, but that's a paid application. I'm not sure how many individuals would just happen to have a paid subscription to it. It's not one that I would expect as a recipient, either. I would expect an electronic signature if I started the process, not so much an electronic signature applied by the recipient using the recipient's process. Mar 28, 2022 at 16:30
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    @ThomasOwens you can sign a document with a free version of Acrobat. The ability to request and manage signatures is an addon feature of the paid version; but the person/organization requesting the signature typically has to pay for it; not the end user
    – Steve
    Mar 28, 2022 at 18:17
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    @ThomasOwens you can do it with the free version of Adobe Reader (they call it "Fill and Sign"). The functionality that's only in the paid version is (confusingly) called "Digital Signatures", which are cryptographic signatures for the file itself (rather than filling in fields in the document or adding a signature image).
    – Gh0stFish
    Mar 28, 2022 at 18:17

Some people will accept digital signatures, some won't. It'll vary depending on you industry (and perhaps country) - 99% of the time I use digital signatures with no issue.

If you're not sure, the easiest thing to do is just ask:

Is a digital signature fine, or do you need a physical one?

If they say digital is fine, great. If they're old-fashioned and demand a physical (or "wet") signature, then print the form, fill it out (black pen) and scan it.


saying "Fill in and sign this form and return to me" how do you deal with it?

You open the PDF in Adobe Acrobat Reader and click on "Fill and Sign" on the right. This will take you through all fields in the form (or you can add text boxes) and you can sign & send it directly in reader. You can scan and save your signature so you can do this consistently for any document.

"Fill and Sign" is one of the more useful features of Adobe Acrobat Reader and it's widely used and accepted. It sure beats printing, signing and scanning both in terms of convince and security.

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