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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 … More about Kat

The Art And Science Of The Email Signature

Quick Summary

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.

Table of Contents

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 Signature

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.

Further Reading on SmashingMag:

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.com, they’ll suspect it’s spam. If the sender’s header reads, “Steve Stevenson - Mister Stevenson Design Company” <steve@misterstevenson.com>, 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="http://www.misterstevenson.com">www.misterstevenson.com</a> | <a title="email Steve Stevenson" href="mailto:steve@misterstevenson.com">steve@misterstevenson.com</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. 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="http://www.misterstevenson.com">www.misterstevenson.com</a> | <a title="email Steve Stevenson" href="mailto:steve@misterstevenson.com">steve@misterstevenson.com</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.com
blog: blogspot.celebritiesneedhelp.com email: steve@misterstevenson.com
home: 613.555.2654 home (wife): 613.555.3369 work: 613.555.9876 cell: 613.555.123455 Drury Lane Apartment 22 Ottawa, Ontario Canada twitter: @stevie_liverpool_fan 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 In Your Email Signature

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?

email signature
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:

<img src="http://www.example.com/uploads/logo.gif" 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="http://www.misterstevenson.com">www.misterstevenson.com</a> | <a title="email Steve Stevenson" href="mailto:steve@misterstevenson.com">steve@misterstevenson.com</a>

<img class="alignnone size-full wp-image-23543" src="https://cloud.netlifyusercontent.com/assets/344dbf88-fdf9-42bb-adb4-46f01eedd629/def86300-f36d-4e15-b128-4fd5d97c98b0/vcard.png" alt="vcard" width="162" height="52" />

If you do want to provide a vCard, just include a link to a remote copy.

New job openings

Great companies are looking for smart cookies like you.

Explore job opportunities →

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 . <a href="http://www.onextrapixel.com">http://www.onextrapixel.com</a>
twi . <a href="http://twitter.com/onextrapixel">http://twitter.com/onextrapixel</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
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: <a href="http://danielrubin.org">http://danielrubin.org</a>
w: <a href="http://sidebarcreative.com">http://sidebarcreative.com</a>
b: <a href="http://superfluousbanter.org">http://superfluousbanter.org</a>

m: +1 234 567 8901
i: aninstantmessanger

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

--

The Site: <a href="http://iampaddy.com/">http://iampaddy.com</a>
Stalk Me: <a href="http://twitter.com/paddydonnelly">http://twitter.com/paddydonnelly</a>
--

With optimism,
Dmitry Belitsky
<a href="http://belitsky.info/">http://belitsky.info</a>
///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////
/// Matthias Kretschmann     ///   krema@xxxxxxxx.xx            ///
/// 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)
-------------------------------------------------
Smashing Magazine
 - http://www.twitter.com/smashingmag
online magazine for designers and developers

HTML?

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="http://netdiver.net/">http://netdiver.net</a>
--
Min, Tran Dinh
Chief Creative Designer - Frexy Studio

Website: http://frexy.com | Blog: http://min.frexy.com | Email: info@frexy.com
Cellphone: (84) 012 345 678
- --
Rene Schmidt -- Berater für Web-Entwicklung & eCommerce,
Linux-Webserver-Systemadministration & Web-Programmierung
Vordamm 46, 21640 Horneburg; <a href="http://www.reneschmidt.de/">http://www.reneschmidt.de/</a>
Tel: 0123.456.7.890; Skype: reneATreneschmidt.de
Steuernummer 43/141/09180; USt-IdNr 219014862
-----BEGIN PGP SIGNATURE-----
Version: GnuPG v1.4.9 (MingW32)
Comment: Using GnuPG with Mozilla - http://enigmail.mozdev.org/

iEYEARECAAYFAktit8sACgkQucSanG9drm2ZYACggIeQST/C226LIsd/czEmrnrR
TjUAniVPXI2lkA68fy3n+nUawdAE1nJ/
=+vZR
-----END PGP SIGNATURE-----
---
Geoff Teehan
Teehan+Lax
Web Platforms  |  Digital Campaigns  |  Mobile Applications  |  Strategic Consulting

T: 416 123 4567 x 890  |  teehanlax.com  |  twitter.com/@teehanlax
----------------------------------------
Dmitry Dragilev

ZURB | Marketing Lead
getstarted@zurb.com
<a href="http://www.zurb.com">http://www.zurb.com</a>
------------------------------------------
Follow our blog at:
<a href="http://www.zurb.com/blog">http://www.zurb.com/blog</a>

Follow us on Twitter: @zurb
<a href="http://twitter.com/zurb">http://twitter.com/zurb</a>

Check out Notable - Easiest way for teams to
provide feedback on websites.
<a href="http://www.notableapp.com">http://www.notableapp.com</a>
------------------------------------------
______________________________________________

Website: <a href="http://www.webdesignerdepot.com">www.webdesignerdepot.com</a>
Twitter: <a href="http://www.twitter.com/DesignerDepot">www.twitter.com/DesignerDepot</a>
Regards,

Matt Ward
Echo Enduring Media

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

mobile: +1 234 567 8901
<a href="http://sidebarcreative.com">http://sidebarcreative.com</a>
--
David Leggett
Tutorial9 Founder
555.012.34567
@theleggett
<a href="http://Tutorial9.net/">Tutorial9.net</a>
Gareth Hardy
Graphic Designer | Down With Design

<a href="http://www.downwithdesign.com/">www.downwithdesign.com</a>
<a href="mailto:gareth@downwithdesign.com">gareth@downwithdesign.com</a>
+44 (0) 0123 456 789
Grant Friedman
<a href="http://www.colorburned.com/">www.colorburned.com</a>

Follow me on Twitter!
<a href="http://twitter.com/colorburned">http://twitter.com/colorburned</a>
----------------------------------------
Many thanks,
Yaili.

<a href="http://yaili.com/">yaili.com</a> | <a href="http://webdesignernotebook.com/">webdesignernotebook.com</a> | <a href="http://londonchronicles.com/">londonchronicles.com</a>
+44 (0) 1234 567890
skype: inayaili
Thanks!
Jonathan Cutrell, Editor
<a href="http://FuelYourInterface.com/">FuelYourInterface.com</a> | @FuelInterface | @jCutrell
--
All the best,

Rob Bowen
Copywriter | Designer | Creative Consultant

Co-Founder/Editor @ Arbenting
& Dead Wings Designs

http://deadwingsdesigns.com
Arseny

--
Please consider the environment before printing this email.
---
Arseny Vesnin
<a href="http://designcollector.net">http://designcollector.net</a>
Calendar: <a href="http://2010.designcollector.net">http://2010.designcollector.net</a>
Profile: <a href="http://designhub.ru">http://designhub.ru</a>
Twitter: <a href="http://twitter.com/designcollector">http://twitter.com/designcollector</a>
Flickr: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/groups/designcollector-6">http://www.flickr.com/groups/designcollector-6</a>
Vimeo: <a href="http://vimeo.com/channels/designcollector">http://vimeo.com/channels/designcollector</a>
Facebook: <a href="http://www.facebook.com/designcollector">http://www.facebook.com/designcollector</a>
Warm regards,

Dipti Kankaliya
{ dipti.kankaliya@studiomarch.com }

Studio March Private Limited
12 Moledina Road Camp Pune 1 India
Phone: +91-20-26334002
{ http://www.studiomarch.com }

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
visit: .

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.


mister stevenson logo Steve Stevenson, Web Designer www.misterstevenson.com | steve@misterstevenson.com
Joost email signature

Invert

matt

maggie

luke w

Adelle Charles

fubiz

design informer

Caroline

Nicola

Martin

Nicola

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="http://www.netmag.co.uk/">www.netmag.co.uk</a>)
----------------------------------
Twitter: danoliver
Email: <a href="mailto:dan.oliver@futurenet.com">dan.oliver@futurenet.com</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="http://elliotjaystocks.com/">http://elliotjaystocks.com</a>

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
###

Cheers,
-Dan
Vennlig hilsen
Lars Bæk
Byråleder & Tekstforfatter
...................................................
JØSS!
Storgata 15, 2408 Elverum
Mob (+47) 01 23 45 67
xxxx@joss.as | www.joss.as
----------------------------------------------
Information Architects Inc.
Tokyo Zurich

Oliver Reichenstein, Founder

<a href="http://informationarchitects.jp/">http://informationarchitects.jp</a>
<a href="http://webtrendmap.com/">http://webtrendmap.com</a>
<a href="http://twitter.com/iA">http://twitter.com/iA</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.

Outlook

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

Entourage

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

Gmail

Want just one basic signature? Here‘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, here are five ways to do it in Firefox.

Hotmail

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

Yahoo

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

Apple Mail

Here 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.

iPhone

Customize your “Sent from my iPhone” message here.

BlackBerry

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

Resources

Smashing Editorial (al)