The Art And Science Of The Email Signature


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.

Be Concise

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 stevies747@hotmail.com1, they’ll suspect it’s spam. If the sender’s header reads, “Steve Stevenson – Mister Stevenson Design Company” <steve@misterstevenson.com2>, 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.

<strong>Steve Stevenson, Web Designer</strong>
<a title="Mister Stevenson's website" href=""></a> | <a title="email Steve Stevenson" href=""></a>

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 here3. Do some research to find out what rules apply in your country.

<strong>Steve Stevenson, Web Designer</strong>
<a title="Mister Stevenson's website" href=""></a> | <a title="email Steve Stevenson" href=""></a>
55 Main Street, London, UK, EC2A 1RE
Company number: 12345678

Don’t Include…

  • 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.

animated duck Steve Stevenson, Web Designer
web: www.misterstevenson.com74
5email: steve@misterstevenson.com86
home: 613.555.2654
home (wife): 613.555.3369
work: 613.555.9876
cell: 613.555.1234

55 Drury Lane
Apartment 22
Ottawa, Ontario

skype: stevie_the_man
messenger: stevie_mrstevenson

I specialize in:
Web design
Graphic design
Logo design
Front-end development
UI design

“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 And then, in your email signature’s HTML, insert the image like so:

<img src="" width="300" height="250" alt="example's logo" />

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?

<strong>Steve Stevenson, Web Designer</strong>
<a title="Mister Stevenson's website" href=""></a> | <a title="email Steve Stevenson" href=""></a>

<img class="alignnone size-full wp-image-23543" src="" alt="vcard" width="162" height="52" />

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)
Showcasing Web Treats Without Hitch
web . <a href=""></a>
twi . <a href=""></a>
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
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: <a href=""></a>
w: <a href=""></a>
b: <a href=""></a>

m: +1 234 567 8901
i: aninstantmessanger

k: h = home, w = work, b = blog, m = mobile, i = aim, k = key


The Site: <a href=""></a>
Stalk Me: <a href=""></a>

With optimism,
Dmitry Belitsky
<a href=""></a>
/// Matthias Kretschmann     ///   krema@xxxxxxxx.xx            ///
/// freelance designer &     ///         ///
/// photographer             ///  ///
/// media studies / communication science & art history         ///
/// MLU Halle-Wittenberg                                        ///
With greetings from Freiburg, Germany,
Vitaly Friedman (editor-in-chief)
Smashing Magazine -
online magazine for designers and developers


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.

carole guevin . editor
//// design + digital culture magazine
//// <a href=""></a>
Min, Tran Dinh
Chief Creative Designer - Frexy Studio

Website: | Blog: | Email:
Cellphone: (84) 012 345 678
- --
Rene Schmidt -- Berater für Web-Entwicklung & eCommerce,
Linux-Webserver-Systemadministration & Web-Programmierung
Vordamm 46, 21640 Horneburg; <a href=""></a>
Tel: 0123.456.7.890; Skype:
Steuernummer 43/141/09180; USt-IdNr 219014862
Version: GnuPG v1.4.9 (MingW32)
Comment: Using GnuPG with Mozilla -

Geoff Teehan
Web Platforms  |  Digital Campaigns  |  Mobile Applications  |  Strategic Consulting

T: 416 123 4567 x 890  |  |
Dmitry Dragilev

ZURB | Marketing Lead
<a href=""></a>

Follow our blog at:
<a href=""></a>

Follow us on Twitter: @zurb
<a href=""></a>

Check out Notable - Easiest way for teams to
provide feedback on websites.
<a href=""></a>

Website: <a href=""></a>
Twitter: <a href=""></a>

Matt Ward
Echo Enduring Media

Web - <a href=""></a>
Blog - <a href=""></a>
Twitter - @echoenduring - Follow me!
Dan Rubin
Sidebar Creative { Director of Training & User Experience }

mobile: +1 234 567 8901
<a href=""></a>
David Leggett
Tutorial9 Founder
<a href=""></a>
Gareth Hardy
Graphic Designer | Down With Design

<a href=""></a>
<a href=""></a>
+44 (0) 0123 456 789
Grant Friedman
<a href=""></a>

Follow me on Twitter!
<a href=""></a>
Many thanks,

<a href=""></a> | <a href=""></a> | <a href=""></a>
+44 (0) 1234 567890
skype: inayaili
Jonathan Cutrell, Editor
<a href=""></a> | @FuelInterface | @jCutrell
All the best,

Rob Bowen
Copywriter | Designer | Creative Consultant

Co-Founder/Editor @ Arbenting
& Dead Wings Designs

Please consider the environment before printing this email.
Arseny Vesnin
<a href=""></a>
Calendar: <a href=""></a>
Profile: <a href=""></a>
Twitter: <a href=""></a>
Flickr: <a href=""></a>
Vimeo: <a href=""></a>
Facebook: <a href=""></a>
Warm regards,

Dipti Kankaliya
{ }

Studio March Private Limited
12 Moledina Road Camp Pune 1 India
Phone: +91-20-26334002
{ }

MarchCast – The Studio March blog
{ }
This is an official email from Studio March Private Limited and is protected
by a disclaimer. If you are not the intended recipient of this email, please

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 as Joost de Valk does.
  • Feel free to experiemnt with your e-mail signature: Jan Diblík uses a signature with dynamicaly changed promo image.
mister stevenson logo Steve Stevenson, Web Designer
www.misterstevenson.com74 | steve@misterstevenson.com86





luke w

Adelle Charles


design informer





Separate Signature From Content

Your signature should clearly be a separate entity. Wikipedia explains the correct way to separate the signature:

“The formatting of the sig block is prescribed somewhat more firmly: it should be displayed as plain text in a fixed-width font (no HTML, images, or other rich text), and must be delimited from the body of the message by a single line consisting of exactly two hyphens, followed by a space, followed by the end of line (i.e., “– n”). This … allows software to automatically mark or remove the sig block as the receiver desires.”

There are other less standard ways to separate your signature. While not automatic formatting, a line of —–, ======, or _______ or even just a few spaces will visually separate your signature from your email.

Dan Oliver (editor)
.net magazine (<a href=""></a>)
Twitter: danoliver
Email: <a href=""></a>
Phone: 01234 56789
Address for deliveries:
.net, Units 1 & 2 Cottrell Court,
Monmouth Place, Bath, BA1 2NP
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Elliot Jay Stocks
Elliot Jay Stocks Design Ltd.
Registered in England & Wales #1234567

<a href=""></a>

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Vennlig hilsen
Lars Bæk
Byråleder & Tekstforfatter
Storgata 15, 2408 Elverum
Mob (+47) 01 23 45 67 |
Information Architects Inc.
Tokyo Zurich

Oliver Reichenstein, Founder

<a href=""></a>
<a href=""></a>
<a href=""></a>

Wrestling With Your Email Client

Offering general advice on signatures is easy, sure. But anyone who has tried to implement automatic signatures in Outlook, Gmail or Yahoo knows it’s not always that simple. Here are some resources to help you get yours right every time.


Changing Outlook’s signature is a real pain, but here9‘s a guide that teaches you a few things. If you use Outlook 2003, here10‘s another tutorial on custom signatures.


Microsoft’s mail for mac works differently. Here’s11 a tutorial on how to set it up.


Want just one basic signature? Here12‘s how to change the text. You’d think Google would allow you multiple signatures, links and a bit of formatting. If you’re looking for something a little more designed or wish to choose between multiple signatures, here13 are five ways to do it in Firefox.


Tips on custom images and more for Hotmail (Oh my!) can be found here14. If you use Windows Live, here15 is a tutorial on adding images and HTML. The detail is helpful, even if the images are awful.


After a bit of research, I found that Yahoo used to support HTML signatures, but no longer. Here16‘s how to change your signature using rich text.

Apple Mail

Here17 is a pretty decent tutorial, with some inline HTML for formatting. It then explains how to implement it in the application. You even get some hints on how it will look on the iPhone.

Palm Pre

Learn how to customize your message on your Palm Pre here18.


Customize your “Sent from my iPhone” message here19.


Some information on how to change your message on BlackBerry smartphones here20.


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Kat Neville is a freelance Canadian web designer (living in the UK) who is constantly coming up with too many ideas for new websites. She also loves arts and crafts, gardening and going on adventures. You can find her design work at

  1. 1

    Darren Rittenhouse

    June 26, 2011 5:00 pm

    I believe that your email should always include your vCard (electronic business card) not as an attachment but as an link as you do email address and url as out lined at

  2. 102

    I am going to develop such a great signature in my Gmail account with help of this article. Thanks to share great details on small subject like email signature.

  3. 203

    I was using my plain url on my email sig, but after reading this I have created a image+text signature. I send a lot emails, now a great way to brand and promote my services. Thank you.


  4. 304


    That was an interesting read. Reading it was fun and informative. Many thanks.

  5. 405

    I have been tasked with creating a uniform HTML signature for everyone in my office to use. I was able to get it to work in Mac Mail, and Thunderbird, but I have had no success getting it to work in Entourage. Is there a way to display an HTML signature with styled images/text/links?

    Thanks in advance!

  6. 506


  7. 607

    I disagree with adding links to what you do, especially if what you do is unique… I do agree with all the twitter and fan BS… but often the one chance you have to intrigue and instantly differentiate is with a link to photos of your work if you are in an artistic business.

    My 10cents

  8. 708

    Great post! Lots of different examples to see what can work.

  9. 809

    Very good guide on basics. Conscisely written and good examples.

    Perfect A+

  10. 910

    Very Interesting . Thank you.

  11. 1011

    I think it’s a Microsoft 2003 thing, but I created a 5.227K GIF and inserted it into my signature. When sent, the email (consisting only of my name and address=3K) is 40 K. I want to stick close to no bigger than 10K. Can anyone tell me how?

  12. 1112

    Thanks very much for the great article! :)

  13. 1213

    “This signature is too big at 20KB”

    Oh, yeah, sure… because in the second decade of the 21st century, where we all have Internet connections on the order of anywhere from one to one hundred megabits per second in our homes, where we can get streaming video in HD quality over our cell phone networks, and where we can literally encode the ENTIRE CONTENTS of the signature in a 57×57 pixel QR code… our e-mail is going to break because we used a 20 kilobyte signature graphic.

    When I read your little comment there I literally had to do a double-take and check what date the article was written, because you’re talking like it’s 1996.

    At least that’s a good excuse for designing a signature graphic that someone wouldn’t want to USE after 1996, “Mister Stephenson”. Next time try to color INSIDE the lines with your crayons. If you’re having trouble with that, find any child between the age of three and five years old, and I’m sure they can help you along.

    • 1314

      Actually, if we’re talking midsize to large companies that share an email network, and everyone has images in their signatures, and you get 100+ emails a day, it’s amazing how quickly that little 20kb graphic will add up into something that ends up clogging your inbox with needless data.

      Nice attempt at working in an irrelevant insult to the author, by the way– a snarky comment on something that was obviously done on purpose for aesthetic reasons.

    • 1415

      @Crates: You failed miserably in your attemp to insult the author and show off your own “expertise” on this subject.

      Please stop commenting on the internet and do something usefull (e.g. read this article again and change your own email signature.)

      @Kat: great article, thanks!

    • 1516

      Serenity Digital

      April 16, 2013 6:19 pm

      This is just rude and uncalled for! It’s easy enough to present an opposing view without having to be nasty.

  14. 1617

    Informative article. Given the business networking opportunities inherent in social spaces like Twitter and LinkedIn, my only grievance is that you recommend not having those links in your signature. IMHO, that is a recommendation to miss an opportunity.

  15. 1718

    Non disclosure and other legalise in the email signature are meaningless. I don’t believe there has ever been a ruling backing this up. You could add any crazy claims to your email but it doesn’t mean the recipient is bound by it. I don’t know how this started but its just one of those “everyone does it, so it must be right” things.

  16. 1819

    You should consider adding at least one pertinent image to each Smashing post so that readers can pin articles to their Pinterest boards. I tried, and all I got as images were a couple of dozen blanks and a few ads. Pinterest is becoming very popular and you will enable a greater degree of sharing by simply adding an image. I have a board for clients where I pin relevant articles – I wish I could pin this one!

  17. 1920


    I found this information, well informative, however, re-typing my email seems a mite redundant. Working in education, I find folk like accessibility and professionalism. With these two in mind, I go simple, as your article expresses, so I sport my name, website and best mode of reaching: email. I haven’t had any emailing me back asking, “and what email do I send this to?” That would be tragic and sad.

    A good signature should look clean and organized. Less is more at times.
    …and then there are abstract folk who’s circle encompasses abstract clients. With this as a factor, other modes could be used i.e., IM, Twitter and the like, all capable of a clean organized look. Hey, that’s what makes it a personal signature.

    Thanks for the post!

  18. 2021

    Amazing article with so much details and presents -unlike many others I’ve reviewed- a professional view.

    So thanks so much


    Mohamed Hassan

    Master’s student

    UPM Aerospace Engineering

    how about this signature, I learned to make it from article :P

  19. 2122

    Now this is one article that explains it all and that too very brilliantly…..Nice job Kat…!

  20. 2223

    Stay away from HTML?

    When emails are sent, they are usually converted to HTML by your email client to then be sent on to somebody else’s client to render that HTML…. The problem being that email clients can be terrible at converted RTF to HTML!!

    By creating your email signature in HTML, you have full control over your email signature design and it’s your best bet for your signature to be displayed correctly across all clients and mobile devices.

    P.S. If you want to add Lotus Notes to your “Email Clients” guides, feel free to use mine –

  21. 2324

    For signature i use Brandmymail ( ), which has full control over email signature and overall template :)

    Nice examples

  22. 2425

    I find it the most annoying when people add “think before you print” message. It often happens that when you do need to print an email it will actually print on a second page and I am wasting one full page on this nonsense. Yes, I can make my own decision on whether I need to print your email, thank you.

    In hloom we make email signature as simple as possible so it is displayed the same way in different email clients:
    Name Surname

    Simple and does the job.

  23. 2526

    I like the efforts you have put in this, regards for all the great blog posts.

  24. 2627

    I have an image I would like to upload as a link to a simple text based signature. The article says to upload the url to your email signatures HTML. Anyone know where i find my email signatures HTML? Or do I need to create a special HTML one to be able to do this? Working with Mail on MAC 10.6.8 Thanks!

  25. 2829

    I think your personal website should be in your signature.

  26. 2930

    I was following along until the part about confidentiality agreements. These are almost universally not binding. Think about it- when in the first world do you enter into a contract just by somebody sending a note telling you that you are now in a contract? Plus the court will likely recognize that by sending the information via email the sender did not take steps to protect confidentiality.

    I realize that non-savvy companies have such policies, but a web developer should focus on debunking these myths.

  27. 3031

    I don’t actually like the examples with images. I think another reason to keep images in sigs short and sweet is that many people check email on their phones, which have slower connections and smaller screens.

  28. 3132

    I had to do this for my company a while ago because comic sans, bible quotes, and pictures were being added. Stripped it all away to just name, title, text, website, and phone number. I’m actually not a proponent of putting images in email sigs because on the receiving end, I find it distracting. Don’t a lot of email clients block images that are sourced from a different server anyways? I’ve had trouble with that too.

  29. 3233

    What about the typical “Sent from my Android Galaxy Nexus S IIx IVI on the Rogers Mobility Network using Super Mail ++ Pro App” type of sayings that get added to a lot of emails by default? Is it acceptable to add “Please excuse typographical errors, this message was sent from an iPhone” or something along those lines, or is it just annoying for people to read at this point?

  30. 3334

    I LOVE this article. Thanks so much for it!

  31. 3435

    My client really wants to have an image in the email signature, and I don’t know why but I’m having the hardest time with it. It has this strange, jagged distortion to it in some versions of outlook, no matter what format I try, and it appears slightly differently in gmail, apple mail, etc. Confusing, because some signature images look just fine (and consistent) across all email clients.

    I’m of the opinion that signature images shouldn’t be used at all, but I don’t have a choice in this case. Does anyone know of a guide for best practices for the technical side of signature images?

  32. 3536

    Thanks for the awesome article. I had neglected email signatures for so long. This has helped.

  33. 3637

    Hi Kat,

    This is a very thorough post on the science of marketing in email signatures, thanks for putting it together.

    I actually showcased you in our most recent post, as I thought what you said is a really good follow up. Hope that’s okay!

    Can you send me your email?

    Thanks Kat,

  34. 3738

    Thank you Kat a lot of work must have gone into this article!

    Really useful!

    Thank you again

  35. 3839

    Nice article. Also use this tool

  36. 3940

    Excellent summary of what’s out there as far as email signatures and as my team’s core competence is email signature analysis (to auto-enrich our clients’ address books), we DEFINITELY agree with the idea to 1) never make the entire signature an image 2) to use HTML as opposed to attached images 3) and to add a bit of your own flair.

    Along the same lines, we created an infographic with the bigdata from 700 million emails and what are statistically the most common elements in an email signature:


  37. 4041

    Your article had some valid points but the key is to find a signature solution that offers flexibility and a lot of the issues described can be solved with a product called LetterMark. LetterMark has the option to not include the signature, use a text only or use the html version. It can also default the html signature to not be used for internal emails.


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