Email signatures are so easy to do well, that it’s really a shame how often they’re done poorly. Many people want their signature to reflect their personality, provide pertinent information and more, but they can easily go overboard. Why are email signatures important? They may be boring and the last item on your list of things to get right, but they affect the tone of every email you write.
Email signatures contain alternative contact details, pertinent job titles and company names, which help the recipient get in touch when emails are not responded to. Sometimes, they give the recipient an idea of who wrote the email in case it has been a while since they have been in touch. They are also professional: like a letterhead, they show that you run a business (in some countries, you’re required to do so). Here are some tips on how to create a tasteful signature that works.
First and foremost, the sender’s header (the “From” field) should have a name, and you should use a company email address if you can. If someone sees email@example.com, they’ll suspect it’s spam. If the sender’s header reads, “Steve Stevenson – Mister Stevenson Design Company” <firstname.lastname@example.org>, they’ll know it’s a professional email from Steve, their trusted designer.
Start by making your website a link. Many email clients convert email addresses and websites into links automatically, but not always. When you’re creating the HTML for an email, make sure the link will appear by adding writing it in HTML. And instead of linking text like “My website,” type out the URL, which will be useful for those who want to copy and paste the address.
An email signature shouldn’t double the email’s length, so make it as short as possible (three lines is usually enough). Don’t get into your life story here. The purpose of a signature is to let them see who you are and how to get in touch with you.
Make Sure to Include…
- Your name,
- Your company and position,
- How to get in touch with you.
No need to include 10 different ways to get in touch with you. As in website design, less is more; and then they’ll know which way you prefer to be contacted. Go to two or three lines, with a maximum of 72 character per line (many email applications have a maximum width of 80 characters, so limit the length to avoid unsightly wrapping). An optional fourth line could be your company address, but use caution if you work from home.
-- Steve Stevenson, Web Designer
Short and Concise, but Check the Rules
In some European countries, laws dictate what items you must put in your email signature if you are a registered company. For example, UK law requires private and public limited companies to include the following:
- Company number,
- Address of registration,
- VAT number, if there is one.
You can be fined for not including this information on all electronic correspondence and on your website and stationary. Many freelancers and small businesses have ignored these rules since their inception, risking a fine. For more information on UK rules, go here. Do some research to find out what rules apply in your country.
-- Steve Stevenson, Web Designer
Company number: 12345678
- Personal Twitter, IM or Skype details;
- Your home phone number or address (unless you want to be called by international clients early in the morning);
- The URL of your personal website;
- Random quotes at the bottom;
- Your entire skill set, CV and lifetime achievements in point form.
Random quotes are fun for friends, but you risk offending business associates with whom you don’t have a personal relationship. Unless you want clients contacting you while you’re watching Lost, don’t share your home details far and wide. Also, don’t share your personal contact information with your corporate partners. They certainly won’t be interested in it, and you may not want them to know certain details about you. However, mentioning your corporate Twitter account or alternative means of contact in your signature might be useful, in case your correspondent is not able to get in touch with you by regular email.
|Steve Stevenson, Web Designer
home (wife): 613.555.3369
cell: 613.555.123455 Drury Lane
I specialize in:
“Flying may not be all plain sailing, but the fun of it is
worth the price.” -Amelia Aerheart
Don’t do this.
Images And Logos
Let’s get this out of the way now: your entire signature shouldn’t be an image. Sure, it will look exactly how you want, but it is completely impractical. Not only does an image increase the email’s file size, but it will likely be blocked before being opened. And how does someone copy information from an image?
- This signature is too big at 20 KB and impossible to copy.
Any images should be used with care and attention. If you do use one, make it small in both dimensions and size, and make it fit in aesthetically with the rest of the signature. 50 x 50 pixels should be plenty big for any logo. If you want to be taken seriously as a business person, do not make it an animated picture, dancing dog or shooting rainbow!
Most email clients store images as attachments or block them by default. So, if you present your signature as an image, your correspondents will have a hard time guessing when you’ve sent a genuine attachment.
The best way to include an image is to host it on a server somewhere and then use the absolute URL to insert the logo. For example, upload the logo to
http://www.example.com/uploads/logo.gif. And then, in your email signature’s HTML, insert the image like so:
Don’t Be A Fancy Pants
Use vCards With Caution
While vCards are a great, convenient way to share contact information, in emails they add bytes and appear as attachments. It is often said that you shouldn’t use a vCard for your email signature, because as helpful as it might be the first time you correspond with someone, receiving it every time after that gets annoying. Besides, the average email user won’t know what it is. Look at the example below. Would an average user know what that is?
--- Steve Stevenson, Web Designer
If you do want to provide a vCard, just include a link to a remote copy.
What About Confidentiality Clauses?
If your emails include confidential information, you may need to include a non-disclosure agreement to prevent information leaks. However, good practice is never to send sensitive information as plain text in emails because the information could be extracted by third parties or forwarded by recipients to other people. Thus, including a non-disclosure agreement doesn’t make much sense if you do not send sensitive information anyway.
Keep in mind, too, that the longer a confidentiality clause is, the more unlikely someone will actually read it. Again, check your country’s privacy laws. Some big companies require a disclosure with every email, but if you’re at a small company or are a freelancer and don’t really require it, then don’t put it in. The length of such clauses can be annoying, especially in short emails.
--- Warm Regards & Stay Creative! Aidan Huang (Editor) ------------------------------------------- Onextrapixel Showcasing Web Treats Without Hitch web . http://www.onextrapixel.com twi . http://twitter.com/onextrapixel ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------
This email and any files transmitted with it are confidential and intended solely for the use of the individual or entity to whom they are addressed. If you have received this email in error please notify the sender. This message contains confidential information and is intended only for the individual named. If you are not the named addressee you should not disseminate, distribute or copy this email. Please notify the sender immediately by email if you have received this email by mistake and delete this email from your system. If you are not the intended recipient you are notified that disclosing, copying, distributing or taking any action in reliance on the contents of this information is strictly prohibited.
This email and any files transmitted with it are confidential. If you have received this email in error please notify the sender and then delete it immediately. Please note that any views or opinions presented in this email are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of Company.
The recipient should check this email and any attachments for the presence of viruses. Company accepts no liability for any damage caused by any virus transmitted by this email.
Company may regularly and randomly monitor outgoing and incoming emails (including the content of them) and other telecommunications on its email and telecommunications systems. By replying to this email you give your consent to such monitoring.*****
Save resources: think before you print.
Don’t Be Afraid to Show Some Personality
Although your email signature should be concise and memorable, it doesn’t have to be boring. Feel free to make your email signature stand out by polishing it with your creative design ideas or your personal touch. Using a warm greeting, adding a cheeky key as Dan Rubin does or encouraging people to “stalk” you as Paddy Donnelly does, all show personality behind simple text.
The key to a simple, memorable and beautiful email signature lies in balancing personal data and your contact details. In fact, some designers have quite original email signatures; most of the time, simple ASCII is enough.
-- h: http://danielrubin.org w: http://sidebarcreative.com b: http://superfluousbanter.org m: +1 234 567 8901 i: superfluouschat k: h = home, w = work, b = blog, m = mobile, i = aim, k = key
Paddy -- The Site: http://iampaddy.com Stalk Me: http://twitter.com/paddydonnelly
-- With optimism, Dmitry Belitsky http://belitsky.info
/////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// /// Matthias Kretschmann /// email@example.com /// /// freelance designer & /// www.kremalicious.com /// /// photographer /// www.matthiaskretschmann.com /// /////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// /// media studies / communication science & art history /// /// MLU Halle-Wittenberg /// ///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////
-- With greetings from Freiburg, Germany, Vitaly Friedman (editor-in-chief) -------------------------------------------------
If you can, stay away from HTML formatting. Every Web designer knows the pain of HTML newsletters, and while HTML is supported for email signatures, you’ll likely have problems with images and divider lines in different email clients. Some nice ASCII formatting may work in some cases.
Of course, if you’re really keen to use HTML, keep it simple:
- Make sure it still looks good in plain text.
- Use black and standard-sized fonts, and stay away from big, tiny and rainbow-colored fonts.
- Don’t use CSS. Inline HTML formatting is universally accepted.
- Use common Web fonts.
- Including a logo? Make sure the signature looks nice even when the logo doesn’t load or is blocked.
- Check how it looks when forwarded. Do all the lines wrap correctly?
- You may want to load your company image as your gravatar from Gravatar.com as Joost de Valk does.
- Feel free to experiemnt with your e-mail signature: Jan Diblík uses a signature with dynamicaly changed promo image.