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Simple signing of PDFs in node.


The purpose of this package is not as much to be used as a dependendency, although it could. The main purpose is to demonstrate the way signing can be achieved in a piece of readable code as it can take a lot of hours to figure out.


Simply said this could be used in two steps. install and sign.

Install with npm i -S node-signpdf node-forge.


Call .sign()

import signer from 'node-signpdf';
const signedPdf = signer.sign(

In practice we expect that most people will just read through the code we've written in the testing part of this package and figure it out themselves. If that's your case, you should read the [Signing PDF in simple steps] section.


To verify a signed pdf call .verify().

import signer from 'node-signpdf';
const signedPdfBuffer = signer.sign(pdfBuffer, p12Buffer);
const {verified} = signer.verify(signedPdfBuffer);


  • The process of signing a document is described in the Digital Signatures in PDF document.
  • This lib:
    • requires the signature placeholder to already be in the document;
    • requires the Contents descriptor in the Sig be placed after the ByteRange one;
    • takes Buffers of the PDF and a P12 certificate to use when signing;
    • does not cover multiple signatures, incremental updates, etc. Only the basic scenario of signing a freshly created PDF. We actually only worked with documents created with PDFKit;
  • Feel free to copy and paste any part of this code. See its defined Purpose.

Signing PDF in simple steps

Generate a PDF

See the unit-testing code. PDFKit is used there for generating the document. This also allows easy addition of the signature placeholder.

Append a signature placeholder

What's needed is a Sig element and a Widget that is also linked in a Form. The form needs to be referenced in the root descriptor of the PDF as well. A (hopefully) readable sample is available in the helpers. Note the Contents descriptor of the Sig where zeros are placed that will later be replaced with the actual signature.

Note: Signing in detached mode makes the signature length independent of the PDF's content length, but it may still vary between different signing certificates. So every time you sign using the same P12 you will get the same length of the output signature, no matter the length of the signed content. It is safe to find out the actual signature length your certificate produces and use it to properly configure the placeholder length.

Generate and apply signature

That's where node-signpdf kicks in. Given a PDF and a P12 certificate a signature is generated in detached mode and is replaced in the placeholder. This is best demonstrated in the tests.

Verifying PDF signature

The signed PDF file has the public certificate embeded in it, so all we need to verify a PDF file is the file itself.


node-forge is used for working with signatures.

PDFKit is used in the tests for generating a PDF with a signature placeholder.



  • All PRs are welcome in the develop branch.
  • This is a git-flow repo. We use the default git flow with a v version prefix.
  • Note that gitmoji is used in the commit messages. That's not a must but we think it's nice.


npm i node-signpdf

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