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I have a scanned PDF file which is an application form, and a picture which is the scanned version of my signature (for example, this one) and can be in any image format such as EPS or PNG. I would like to put the signature picture on the blank space right to "APPLICANT:" on the second page of the application form. I wonder how to do that?

I have tried the following methods, but none succeeded:

  1. The first way is using gimp. I first import the application form into gimp, and then paste the signature picture on the space right to "APPLICANT:" on the second page of the application form.

    The problems are that:

    • It seems that I can only import one page of the application form into gimp, not all of the two pages.

    • Also when I save the modification, the closest format to PDF I can save to is PS, and the resolution has been downgraded and the storage size of the saved file is 10 times bigger than the original application form and the signature picture.

  2. The second way is using Libreoffice Draw. I have installed the libreoffice-pdfimport package. But after I import the application form into Libreoffice Draw,

    • all the scanned content is not imported, and

    • the layout is different from the layout of the original application form.

So what other ways can I try? I would prefer some way that can lay the signature picture directly on the application form PDF file,

  • without having to convert between formats,
  • without having to create much bigger files while keeping the original resolution,
  • without having to split and combine pages of a multi-page pdf file,
  • without having to rasterize other parts of the PDF file, i.e. without losing the text that I added later to the application form PDF file by having to convert the whole PDF into images.
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Though not a native application, see this answer:askubuntu.com/a/35679/4923 this application can also insert images in existing pdfs quite well. –  Sabacon Jan 25 '12 at 16:35
In the gimp, you can select the print option and export it to pdf that way; the cups-pdf package gives more options than the default print to file. You could merge both pages together into one document beforehand. –  user76204 Jul 23 '12 at 23:07
@Mik: (1) Does the cups-pdf package work within gimp? Can it reduces the storage size while keeping the original resolution? (2) Is there some way without having to split and combine pages of a multi-page pdf file? –  Tim Jul 23 '12 at 23:18
Yes you just go the print menu- there are resolution and other settings there. You should just be able to import the pdf into gimp, do what you want, and then export it as a pdf through the print menu. –  user76204 Jul 23 '12 at 23:21
@Mik: What is cups-pdf used for? Is it used to convert files in other formats to files in pdf? –  Tim Jul 23 '12 at 23:56

11 Answers 11

My recommendation is Xournal. Here are the instructions.


sudo apt-get install xournal

For pre-14.04 versions of Ubuntu you may need to install from a ppa. Here are those instruction.

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:nilarimogard/webupd8
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install xournal

Now, go to where you need to add your signature and insert an image by selecting the insert image tool.

Note: Xournal's insert image is a great addition but not polished. As soon as you add the image make sure to resize it and move it to where you want. For resize there's no ability to ensure the proportions stay the same. Just eye it. Once you are done, it is in its own layer, which you cannot change. If you don't like how it ends up delete that layer and start again.

One handy thing is that you can use ctrl-c as soon as you resize it and then ctrl-v the next time you need to insert your image. Assuming you want the same size image this will save you some time.

A downside to Xournal is the finished document looks like the fonts are converted to an image. Fonts are no longer as crisp. Still it looks better than if you printed and rescanned and is much faster. [Note: in my most recent experience it seems this problem has been solved. Maybe I just got lucky with the particular fonts used. Please leave a comment abt your experience and I'll update accordingly.]

share|improve this answer
Xournal is the way to go –  Freedom_Ben Mar 12 at 1:55
I normally use Inkscape for PDF manipulations, I would suggest trying that. Similar to GIMP, it can only process single pages though. Its advantage is that you can manipulate the different objects in the pdf directly. –  noleti Sep 1 at 7:59
agree inkscape is good for pdf manipulation in many cases--but I think it is a very poor solution for someone trying to sign a multi-page contract. –  snowguy Sep 2 at 14:35
Wow -- Xournal really works! In Ubuntu 14.04, you don't need to add the separate repo -- version 4.7 is available in the default repos. –  Sam King Sep 25 at 3:52
thx. I updated my answer accordingly. –  snowguy Oct 10 at 19:24

LibreOffice Draw will let you modify PDF's.

In Ubuntu you might need to install LibreOffice Extension for Importing PDF Files which you can do by running sudo apt-get install libreoffice-pdfimport

I have used it for inserting scans of my signatures.

share|improve this answer
When you import a pdf file into LibreOffice Draw and exporting it back to pdf, does the layout change? –  Tim Jul 24 '12 at 21:39
The page layout? If it does, you can use pdfmod to fix it. You don't need to use Draw; you can Import the PDF with Writer, and then insert your image. I've got a blog post about this over at colans.net/blog/signing-document-image-ubuntu-1210 . –  colan Mar 25 '13 at 19:43

I have found a way to do this, but it involves converting your signature image to pdf and then merging that with the target application form and then outputting a new document; the signature is added at the end of the document. It is quite simple to do and may be the easiest way to do it. Imagemagick is the program to install (if necessary) and use its convert function in this manner: convert original.pdf signature.pdf final.pdf.


share|improve this answer
Thanks! Can the signature picture be added not just at the end of the pdf file, but right to "APPLICANT:" in the middle of the second page? –  Tim Jul 24 '12 at 1:48
I think there is a way, but you would have to check the imagemagick settings, as I have only used the program in the manner described. If you can't get the signature where you want, you could fill in the forms using xournal, print them out, sign them, and then scan them in again. –  user76204 Jul 24 '12 at 10:01
Is the software in the picture in your reply some frontend of Imagemagick, or something else? Do you add the signature picture in that software? –  Tim Jul 24 '12 at 11:00
The screenshot is from evince; but I think you should be able to get what you want with imagemagick or pdfshuffler or gscan2pdf. It will involve merging pdfs though. –  user76204 Jul 24 '12 at 11:14
Thanks! I can't figure out how I can do my task in imagemagick, i.e. adding a signature picture not at the end of the application form pdf file. Is it possible to add the picture without having to rasterize other parts of the pdf file, i.e. without losing the text in the application form pdf file by having to convert the whole pdf into images? –  Tim Jul 24 '12 at 15:14

You can try: uPdf

You can add blank pages, or pages from other documents or insert images, or text.

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:atareao/updf
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install updf
share|improve this answer
Only works in precise –  txwikinger Jun 3 '13 at 16:03
@txwikinger The quantal package works fine in raring, you just need to edit /etc/apt/sources.list.d/atareao-updf-raring.list. –  kynan Oct 31 '13 at 0:35

You could use PDF Buddy, an online PDF editor that makes adding signatures ridiculously easy: you can just draw them or add them as image files.

enter image description here

(Disclosure: I'm a co-founder of PDF Buddy)

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I think you were on the right track with GIMP. Why not capitalize on what you have done in GIMP and re-merge the PDF using something like PDF shuffler (has the capability to import postscript PS files).

See this previous question how to

share|improve this answer
Thanks! (1) What does "capitalize on what you have done in GIMP" mean? (2) Is there some way without having to split and combine pages of a multi-page pdf file? –  Tim Jul 23 '12 at 23:19
(1) Do it is gimp as you did and save it a PS file (2) Not to my knowledge which is why I suggest a PDF compiler. However there is a vast array of PDF editing software available in the USC. Have you looked at any of them e.g PDF Studio 7 Standard. There are too many for me to have total knowledge of all their functionality –  Stephen Myall Jul 23 '12 at 23:27
is it possible to add the picture without having to rasterize other parts of the pdf file, i.e. without losing the text in the application form pdf file by having to convert the whole pdf into images? –  Tim Jul 24 '12 at 15:12
Tim, to avoid rasterasizing (as you have described) you will probably need to go back to the software you originally created the PDF in. You are facing these problems because you are using a scanned PDF. –  Stephen Myall Jul 24 '12 at 15:48
The scanned pdf is all I have, but I have added some text on the scanned pdf (not shown in the link). if I further add signature picture on the pdf, how can I avoid rasterizing the whole pdf i.e. avoid losing the text I input? –  Tim Jul 24 '12 at 15:53

You can use pdftk

sudo apt-get install pdftk

It's just one command:

pdftk A=Orig.pdf B=MyPage.pdf cat A1-4 B1 A6-11 output Combined.pdf

Or read an article about applying a signature to a pad here: http://zyliu2005.blogspot.co.uk/2009/08/linux-how-to-insert-img-to-pdf-files.html

It also allows you to

  • Merge PDF Documents or Collate PDF Page Scans
  • Split PDF Pages into a New Document
  • Rotate PDF Documents or Pages
  • Decrypt Input as Necessary (Password Required)
  • Encrypt Output as Desired
  • Fill PDF Forms with X/FDF Data and/or Flatten Forms
  • Generate FDF Data Stencils from PDF Forms
  • Apply a Background Watermark or a Foreground Stamp
  • Report PDF Metrics, Bookmarks and Metadata
  • Add/Update PDF Bookmarks or Metadata
  • Attach Files to PDF Pages or the PDF Document
  • Unpack PDF Attachments
  • Burst a PDF Document into Single Pages
  • Uncompress and Re-Compress Page Streams
  • Repair Corrupted PDF (Where Possible)

For an article explaining all the options, see: http://www.linux.com/learn/tutorials/442414-manipulating-pdfs-with-the-pdf-toolkit

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Try Xournal, you can just 'sign' with the mouse then re-export as a PDF. It's in the Software Center.

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Do you mean use mouse to choose "pen", and then write the signature on the pdf? –  Tim Jul 23 '12 at 22:41
@Tim Yes, that is what I do. –  Tom Brossman Jul 24 '12 at 7:09

1/ use GIMP to save pdf as image. 2/ open LO-Writer and import that image as watermark. 3/ simply type over the watermark where needed. you can add boxes, images, etc.

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Can you give instructions? How do you get GIMP to convert a mulit-page PDF? –  snowguy Mar 26 '13 at 19:20
To parse a pdf file you can use one of the free utilities, such as pdf-shuffler. Then follow steps 1,2,3 above. –  rob grune Jan 1 at 4:32

I've also been looking for a way to insert an image of my signature to a PDF. Funny how complicated this is. Many of the free tools out there let you insert a water mark, but you need to give x,y coordinate for where it goes, in other words "no gui." fine for a water mark, no good for a signature that needs to land on a line.

I just discovered PDF escape http://www.pdfescape.com/ which worked like a charm. online gui, let me easily upload a PDF and an image, and place/scale it as I needed.

share|improve this answer
PDF Escape is very insecure- no SSL protection for your files, signatures, passwords, or anything else. Use PDF Buddy for much better online option (See my answer) –  Yarin Nov 28 '13 at 19:55

A very simple way is to use Scribus:

  1. Open the PDF file with Scribus (directly from the file manager for example)
  2. Add an image box at the correct place
  3. Load the picture into the image box
  4. Export as PDF

The quality of the output is very good, the image resolution can be limited in the export and the positioning and scaling of the picture is quite simple.

share|improve this answer
I tried this on a (relatively simple) PDF form I was filling out, and Scribus just couldn't handle the document formatting. –  Steve Kroon Apr 1 at 15:24
@SteveKroon: You might consider opening a bug report with your problem with scribus: bugs.scribus.net/my_view_page.php. –  Patrick Häcker Apr 12 at 10:48
Perhaps if I didn't have to create an account to file a bug report for a tool I had never used before trying the above... –  Steve Kroon Apr 14 at 10:01
Fair enough … :-) –  Patrick Häcker Apr 14 at 13:42

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