The DocuSign API uses several terms and concepts throughout.


An object that represents the content to be reviewed or signed by a recipient. Before they’re converted, documents can be in various formats including PDF, Word, HTML, and others.

Documents have names and are always base64-encoded within the DocuSign system.


An object that contains the documents you are sending. The envelope contains information about the sender, the recipients, and timestamps that indicate delivery progress. The envelope also specifies the location of the tabs for each document it contains.

Integrator Key

An integrator key is a unique identifier for each DocuSign integration. It is required for all API calls (REST and SOAP) to any DocuSign service. You can generate integrator keys at no cost in your developer sandbox. See the QuickStart topic to learn how to generate an Integrator Key.

To move your integration to production so that you can make legally binding signature requests, your integration must be certfied, and you must purchase an API plan. See the Go Live section for details.


Someone who receives an envelope. There are different types of recipients:

  • Recipients who can sign (or initial) the documents and can add information where indicated by tabs.
  • Recipients who receive a copy of the documents or must click to confirm that they’ve viewed the documents.
  • Signer recipients who can sign in person and can sign offline when no internet access is available.

The object representing a recipient contains information such as the recipient’s name, email address, whether they will receive notifications, id verification methods, and their routing order for the document.

Recipient Groups define a pool of recipients who can sign the document. Only one person in the group needs to sign the document. For example, if a document is sent to “Legal” for signing, the first person within the Legal group who chooses to do so can sign the document. Once one person has signed from the group, no one else in the group can sign.

Service Integration

A service integration is a service that integrates directly with a DocuSign account. This kind of integration is typically reserved for backend services that authenticate on the DocuSign platform, without the involvement of an end user. For example, a backend application could be integrated into a line of business applications to automatically send non-disclosure agreements to new employees. For these types of applications, you should use Service Integration Authentication.

Supplemental Documents

Supplemental documents are supporting materials such as disclosures and other informational documents that need to accompany a document sent for signature. These supplemental documents are available to the signer to view and acknowledge, without making the envelope too large or confusing for signers.

Tab or Tag

An object representing a DocuSign Tab (also known as a Tag or Stick-eTab®) on a document. Tabs are represented graphically as symbols on documents at the time of signing. There are three general categories of tabs within the system:

  • Signature and Initials tabs show signers where to sign or initial a document:

    sign-here-tab initial-here-tab

  • Information tabs are used to include data elements in a document, similar to Macros. For example, a tab can automatically fill in the Company Name and Title for a recipient, or when the document is signed.

    date-tab company-tab title-tab

  • Editable tabs are data fields, that allow signers to add or update data in a document.



A prefconfigured envelope with specific documents, recipient roles, recipient routing order, recipient authentication, signing tabs, and information fields. Templates can also contain set signing instructions for the document and signature attachment requests. You can create templates that allow the sender to make changes before sending the envelope.

Templates are a powerful tool that save setup steps when multiple documents need to be handled in a similar manner. Templates can also be used to make integration projects easier. Instead of using the API to specify all of the envelope information, you can use the DocuSign web interface to create a template, then use the template to send the document from the API.

User Application

A user application is a client that authenticates every end user with DocuSign. These applications are typically web services, mobile applications, or desktop programs that authenticate individual users on the DocuSign platform. Once authenticated, users give consent for the application to display, send, or sign envelopes from their account. For user applications, you should use the Authorization Code or Implicit OAuth grant types.