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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 Link

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… Link

  • 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 Link

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.

<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… Link

  • 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.com63
email: steve@misterstevenson.com74
home: 613.555.2654
home (wife): 613.555.3369
work: 613.555.9876
cell: 613.555.123455 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 Link

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 Link

Use vCards With Caution Link

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? Link

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 Link

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 enough5.

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

HTML? Link

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
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 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.com63 | steve@misterstevenson.com74





luke w

Adelle Charles


design informer





Separate Signature From Content Link

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 Link

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 Link

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 Link

Microsoft’s mail for mac works differently. Here’s8 a tutorial on how to set it up.

Gmail Link

Want just one basic signature? Here9‘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, here10 are five ways to do it in Firefox.

Hotmail Link

Tips on custom images and more for Hotmail (Oh my!) can be found here11. 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 Link

After a bit of research, I found that Yahoo used to support HTML signatures, but no longer. Here12‘s how to change your signature using rich text.

Apple Mail Link

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.

Palm Pre Link

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

iPhone Link

Customize your “Sent from my iPhone” message here13.

BlackBerry Link

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

Resources Link

You may be interested in the following related posts:


.ouch{ color: #ff0000; font-size: 20px; font-family:’Comic Sans MS’}

Footnotes Link

  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. 3
  4. 4
  5. 5
  6. 6
  7. 7
  8. 8
  9. 9
  10. 10
  11. 11
  12. 12
  13. 13
  14. 14
  15. 15
  16. 16
  17. 17 /2009/04/01/10-handy-tips-for-web-design-cvs-and-resumes/
  18. 18 /2009/05/20/effective-business-card-design-better-than-a-plain-ol-business-card/
  19. 19 /2009/11/05/invoice-like-a-pro/

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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

    Cool, was looking forwards to an article like this! Thank!

  2. 2

    Tony Beninate

    February 4, 2010 6:57 am

    Good article! I hadn’t thought much about this before.

  3. 3

    I think there is a typo with the line :
    Your home phone number or address (unless you want to be called by international clients early in the early);
    If it is indeed a correct usage the phrase. Please ignore the comment.
    By the way a great article. For me the signature was always about the Name, URL and Twitter. And frankly it will still be even after reading the article. Just do not see a reason to change. :)

  4. 5

    I never understand putting your email adress in your sig, if you are SENDING from that address. This is info that’s already apparent.

    Site, direct phone number, job function, perhaps fax. That’s it.

    • 6

      Sabine, sometimes your message is forwarded on to someone else without the mail header information (e.g. it just says “on 12 March ABC wrote:”). Then it is useful to have the email in the signature.

    • 7

      totally agree

    • 8

      It may be convenient for the recipient to be able to copy and paste your entire contact information (including email) in one go.

    • 9

      When the email is forwarded other people have your email address too! :D
      For freelance webdesigners or developers that could mean business… or they could go to the website: point taken :S I still have it in mine

    • 10

      Sweety that is because reply-to email address might be different, since one person might be playing different roles.


  5. 11

    Great post! I keep saying that I need to get my signature together, and now I have the motivation to do so. Thank you.

  6. 12

    What, no mention of that sodding “think of the environment, don’t print this!!!” green tree logo’d e-mail footer? :D

  7. 13

    The attached image or vcard really gets me when you want to search through your mails for ones with real attachments. I had wondered whether embedded inline base64-encoded images would get around that but it seems not:

    BTW, another good reason for keeping the sig short is that long email conversations with lots of messages rapidly collect multiple email sigs at the bottom.

  8. 14

    A good rule of thumb when writing articles like this is to make a clear distinction between screen grabs of ASCII text and actual text, so people won’t miss what you’ve written in between the screen grabs. (or have to scroll up and down countless of times to make sense of what you’re trying to say)

    Also, if you advice people against doing something, be sure that the “inspirational” material you’re showing at the end don’t contain exactly those things you’re advising against..

    Lastly, please refrain from disguising “subjective opinions” as objective guidelines…

  9. 15

    i always thought having your email address in your signature was redundant and unnecessary. i argue to simplify the amount of ways someone can contact you. all you really need is one phone number. the recipient has two choices, reply or call. easy.

    no one cares about your blog or your vimeo account. or your twitter. most of that stuff can be found by googling your email address/name anyway. if someone wants to stalk, they will. no need to scream “hey look at me! over here!” with a ridiculous collection of social media links. no one cares about your dalai lama, einstein, or gandhi quotes either.

    also don’t include a signature on replies. why? because they clearly don’t need it if they got in contact with you.

    ugh, i hate emails. great article tho. :)

  10. 16

    Great article. Useful to have all this advice on one page. In the last section, “Wrestling with your email client” you forgot to include Entourage, which is Outlook for the Mac and differs slightly in its email options.

    • 17

      Thanks Roger! I can’t believe I forgot, as it’s one of those things I’ve had to set up before. I have added it in.

  11. 18

    How cool of you to publish email addresses in plain text in this article. bravo! :)

  12. 19

    Thanks for all the great tips.

    Personally, I can’t stand signatures that use images or HTML. I keep mine plain text and simple – I know it’ll come across everyone’s email fine that way.

    By the way, I didn’t see any mention of signatures containing what device an email was sent from. I get those “sent from my BlackBerry” or “sent from my iPhone” ones, and before I had such a device, I just assumed people were being oddly egotistical by putting that in their signature.

    I now know it’s important to have in there so people can see that you were likely out on the road when the message was sent.

  13. 20

    I’ve always wondered why people include their contact details the second time. Phone number, sure, but the e-mail is one reply button away or in a e-mail sent to lots of people the address is typically visible too.

    I go with the


  14. 21

    I know this isn’t technically email signature-related, but what about those annoying email backgrounds? Some of them are so obtrusive, I can barely read the content. Ugh.

    Great tips, great article, will be retweeted.

  15. 22

    i have been changing my signature based on the season and would love to share mine here

  16. 23

    Comic Sans! The horror, the horror…

    At work we use our name, job title and some general legal statement, that’s it. Nobody will ever read it so what’s the point of including your life story, cat’s name and favourite colour?

  17. 24

    Interesting read, I’d never really thought too much about my email signature. Up till this point I’ve simply had it as my name, company, and URL. Time to rethink! Great post.

  18. 25

    I have been meaning to do a proper signature for ages, and this has inspired me to get it done tonight after work.

    Great article full of everything you will ever need.

  19. 26

    Tanks, very useful ! :) Hugs from Argentina, Buenos Aires

    • 27

      provide demonstrate

      September 7, 2010 3:29 pm

      myself must say this is a really tight article myself enjoyed reading it keep dha good work

    • 28

      dodge grand caravan rim

      September 22, 2010 9:49 am

      Great post. myself will read your posts frequently.
      Buh Bye

    • 29

      How can start this work please tell me
      Would you be interested in exchanging blogrolls links with my site?
      Bye Bye

    • 30

      Sally, you are absolutely correct, it shows that youre an authority on the subject. i admire someone that takes the pride you have and with your projecton of information. So when i actually do sit down to read material, I appreciate well written and organized is like this one. i have it bookmarked and will be back.
      myself have a website aswell.

    • 31

      atlanta georgia

      October 25, 2010 3:54 pm

      Good Day
      Very good video Lisa.
      Anyway, Me felt it was about time Me posted

    • 32

      Sally, you are absolutely correct, it shows that youre an authority on da subject. I admire someone that takes da pride you have and with your projecton of information. So when I actually do sit down to read material, I appreciate well written and organized Is like this one. I have it bookmarked and will be back.
      If you want to exchange links let me know.

    • 33

      That was a good reading and informative. You obviously know your stuff!

    • 34

      Ive been reading along for a while now.
      Whats yer opinion on potential?

    • 35

      refreshing and very informative. My bro wish there were more blogs like it.
      Do you do blogroll exchanging?

    • 36

      Hi There
      err myself keep getting an error when trying to skip to teh next article
      myself have a website aswell.

    • 37

      Hi Homie
      Your article has added very nice value to your site. myself say this because to me personally myself find it very nice. Maybe to some one else its not but to me you did very nice. gracias for dha info.

  20. 38

    Francis Baptiste

    February 4, 2010 4:14 pm

    I really hate HTML in an email. 99% of the time it’s just a mess and an eye sore to look at . As soon as I see HTML in an email, I think someone is trying to sell me something, because that’s always been the case. A small bit in the footer might be alright, but still…

    HTML has no place in emails, if you ask me. It’s like getting a flyer in the mail. It’s cool if you’re the kind of person who likes to actually look at every flyer you get in the mail, but I don’t like to waste my time with that crap.


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