Electronic Signature — DocuSign

Technology for the electronic signing of documents and creation of approval workflows.

Also known as E-signature or DocuSign.

DocuSign Logo

CUIT offers DocuSign, a leading electronic signature management solution. An enterprise license has been negotiated between DocuSign and Columbia University, enabling any Columbia University employee to create a DocuSign account. While creating a DocuSign account is free, each “envelope” (transaction) carries a cost.

DocuSign is a secure cloud service that provides electronic signature technology for the signing of documents and the creation of document signature workflows. With DocuSign, you can streamline the process of getting documents signed and routing documents through a review and approval cycle. In addition to signatures, DocuSign also enable signers to add their initials, full name, email address, the date signed, and any other field types necessary for your organization’s specific needs.

Electronic signatures are validated by the signer and provide the same legal binding as a handwritten signature. Because DocuSign integrates with a number of the most commonly used applications (such as the Google technologies that underpin Columbia’s LionMail system), it is a convenient way for University faculty and staff to capture and manage signatures.

Top Features of DocuSign

  • Extensive document format support: DocuSign supports virtually any type of document file type from most applications—like Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint—to ensure all your important documents can be sent for signature. DocuSign also recognizes PDF documents, and automatically tags form fields for data entry by signers. 
    • Supported file formats include .doc, .docx, .pdf, .xls, xlsx, .txt and many others.
  • Customizable form fields: Guide your document recipients to sign and initial in all the right places in a matter of seconds. Use standard tags to collect signatures, initials, names, titles, company names and other relevant information—or modify them for specific purposes and save them as custom tags for future use. 
    • Available tags include signatures, initials, names, titles, company names, text, numbers, currency, notes and more.
    • DocuSign offers robust form functionality including checkboxes, radio buttons, dropdown tags, and text, numeric and currency fields.
  • Data validation: Restrict the type of data entered into any chosen field to eliminate data entry errors and document resending.
    • Validation values include text, email, phone number, date, 5-digit ZIP code, 9-digit ZIP code, social security number and regular expression masking.
  • Advanced field formatting and logic: Automate document logic with DocuSign’s advanced form and field validation capabilities. 
    • Use Conditional Fields to hide or reveal data that needs to be collected based on a signer’s response to other fields.
    • With Calculated Fields, values are dynamically calculated based on inputs to other fields.
    • Locked Fields protect data you don’t want changed and Linked Fields ensure all changes are reflected across all identical fields.
  • Field and document markup: Enable certain fields to be editable by downstream signers. DocuSign manages the changes and requests the initials of other parties before accepting a change. The transaction history tracks all finalized changes.
  • Flexible workflow: Route documents to multiple users in serial, parallel and mixed sequencing to fit your ideal process. Require users to sign one-by-one or all at the same time.
    • Create templates for frequently used documents: Prepare documents for rapid sending with reusable templates that save tags and field placement, workflow routing, and other settings. Templates standardize processes, reduce preparation time and enable end-to-end automation of your signature workflows.
    • Flexible Permissions: Define the actions of each recipient in your workflow, like signing, editing, requesting signer attachments, or simply approving a document. DocuSign has multiple roles to help you streamline your workflow to your specific needs.
  • Multiple levels for authentication: Make sure your signers are who they say they are. Multiple levels of authentication increase the thresholds required of signers to prove their identity before given access to documents.
    • Authentication methods include email, SMS text, phone and a number of other options to ensure that the individual signing the document is who they say they are.


DocuSign is an ideal solution if you frequently need to capture signatures, and your list of document approvers is fairly consistent. For example, if you frequently need members of your organization to sign a specific policy document, and that document needs to be reviewed and approved by a consistent group of approvers or their delegates, then DocuSign is an ideal solution to automate that process.

Using DocuSign is discouraged only in cases where documents will require significant editing or comments by the signer or approvers, when the approval process is not clearly defined or is exceptionally complex, or when a signature needs to appear as if it is handwritten. In those cases, we recommend that you continue to use your existing processes for signatures and approvals.