How to Authenticate an Electronic Transcript

The electronic version of the official transcript of the University of Chicago contains a digital signature that can be instantly validated. The document will display a blue ribbon symbol as assurance that the digital signature is valid, authentic, and the contents of the document have not been altered.

When the document is viewed through Adobe Reader versions 6.0 or higher, or through Adobe Acrobat versions 6.04 or higher, it will reveal that a digital signature has been applied to the document. A pop-up screen will indicate whether the document is valid or invalid, or whether the signer of the document is unknown and other measures must be taken to authenticate it. In addition, the pop-up screen allows for further examination of the digital signature and authentication of the origin of the document.

Attention Mac users: You must use Adobe Reader or Acrobat to open the secure electronic transcript. Using the default Mac PDF viewer will cause the document to open incorrectly.

Document Validity

A valid signature means that the document’s contents have not been changed or altered in any way. The pop-up screen will display a blue ribbon icon along with a message that the document has been certified by The University of Chicago. This means that the digital signature is true and authentic. The author of the document is known to the certification authority and the person or institution represented by the digital signature is true and authentic.
An invalid signature means either the digital signature is not authentic, the document has be altered, the digital signature has been revoked, or the digital signature has expired. A document with the Invalid display should be rejected.
A display of Author Unknown can have two possible meanings: the digital signature cannot be validated due to a disconnection to the internet, or the digital signature cannot be instantly validated via the internet. If you receive this message make sure you are properly connected to the internet. If you are connected and you still cannot validate the signature, reject the document.

For More Information

If you have additional questions about the digital signature, the authenticity of the document, and means by which it was received, please contact the Office of the University Registrar at 773.702.7891 or

View the Official Key to Transcripts of Academic Records.