How to Create Self-signed Digital Certificate in MS Office

MS Office lets you create a self-signed digital certificate or ID to add a signature and protect documents. Here is how to do it.

MS Office lets you sign a document with your personalized signature. This signature ensures the document’s authenticity and the person’s identity who signed it. For example, if you sent a contractual letter to a third party, the target user can sign the Word document using their digital signature. To digitally sign a document, Office uses a signed Digital Certificate. Without a digital certificate, you cannot digitally sign a document. A digital certificate is a unique identifier and authenticator that ensures you are who you say you are.

Digital certificates are issued by a trusted third party called a Certificate Authority. Many commercial Certificate Authorities make it easy to create Digital Certificates for a fee. If you are in a commercial or professional environment, paying for a Certificate Authority is well worth it.

However, as an alternative, you can create a self-signed digital certificate in MS Office using the SelfCert tool. In fact, some companies and developers create self-signed digital certificates to ensure identity and authenticity. A self-signed digital certificate works the same way as a regular digital certificate. The significant difference is that the identity of the entity or user who created, issued, and signed the digital certificate is not independently verified.

Without further ado, let me show you how to create a self-signed digital certificate in MS Office.

Create self-signed digital certificate in MS Office

MS Office provides a simple tool called SelfCert that lets you create a self-signed digital certificate with just a few clicks. Here is how to use SelfCert.

SelfCert tool is included with Office Suite. This means you can find it in the MS Office installation folder. So, open the File Explorer first and go to the “C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Office\root\Office16” folder.

Note: Depending on the Office version, you might see a different version of the “Office” folder in the “root” folder.

Here, find and double-click on the “SELFCERT.EXE” file.

open selfcert tool

This action will open the “Create Digital Certificate” window. Here, type the certificate’s name and click the “Ok” button.

create self-signed digital certificate in MS Office

As soon as you do that, SelfCert will create a self-signed digital certificate in the name you chose. Click the “Ok” button in the “SelfCert Success” window.

self signed digital certificate created

That is it. You’ve successfully created a self-signed digital certificate in MS Office.

Using a self-signed certificate in the signature

You can start using the self-signed certificate for digital signatures from now on. While signing the document, click the “Change” button in the “Signing as” section.

change certificate

In the “Select a certificate” window, click the “More options” link.

click more choices link

Now, choose the certificate you just created and click the “Ok” button.

select self signed digital certificate

That’s it. You can now proceed with the signature. It will use the newly created certificate. You can verify the certificate by looking at the “Signing as” section.

signature using self signed certificate

Once signed, the certificate information is also visible under the signature line.

signature used self signed certificate

That is it.

I hope that helps.

If you need any help, comment below, and I will try to help.

Related: how to add signature to a Word document.

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