20 Tips for Creating an Effective Email Signature

Alyssa Gregory

This article was written in 2009 and remains one of our most popular posts. If you’re keen to learn more on this subject, you may find this recent post on creating an email signature of great interest.

Yesterday, I identified the four common personality types of poor email signatures. While much of the post was light-hearted, an effective email signature is essential. It can be challenging to the recipient of a message with a very long or overly formatted signature to find your contact information. Not to mention a poor signature can hurt your professional reputation, add unnecessary bulk, and be a distraction from the content in your message.

There are many ways you can format your email signature, and while one may not be perfect in all situations, there are some universal guidelines that can help you create a signature that is professional, easy to digest and informative.

Email Signature Tips

1. Keep it as short as you can while providing all of the information you deem most important (four lines is the accepted standard).

2. Condense information into fewer lines by using pipes (|) or colons (::) to separate the text.

3. Remember that simple plain text is best; skip colors, special fonts and graphics.

4. Use the accepted signature delimiter (-- ) to help your signature get recognized as such by email clients.

5. Be careful with HTML formatting because it may not appear how you want it to for everyone.

6. Test your signature with as many email clients as you can, especially if you use HTML.

7. Optimize your logo or other graphics, upload the files to your server, and use an absolute URL.

8. Consider using an email signature service if you have specific formatting needs or want to include graphics and other design elements. Here are a few to check out:

9. Provide written out URLs instead of using hyperlinks in your email to ensure the link will go through in the sent message.

10. Avoid including multiple phone numbers and email addresses. Pick your contact preference and get rid of the rest.

11. Only include IM details and Skype account information if you want to be contacted that way by anyone who sees your message.

12. Skip your mailing address — not every recipient wants or should have access to that information.

13. Include links to your most important social media profiles, only if they are appropriate.

14. Include your email address. You can’t rely on various email clients to include header information in replies and forwards.

15. Create different versions, both in length and content and know when to use each version (i.e. use a shorter version on replies).

16. Make sure you update your signature on your mobile device if you frequently use it to send messages. Here are some quick how-to’s on popular devices:

17. Don’t attach your vCard to your messages. Not everyone uses them and even those that do don’t need to receive them repeatedly.

18. Reconsider including a quote; you never know when you might offend someone or give the wrong impression.

19. Avoid including a legal disclaimer unless required to do so.

20. Avoid including a virus-checked message at the bottom of every email.

Examples of Effective Plain Text Email Signatures

Default version:
John Smith
President | Top Web Design USA
555-555-5555 | john@johnsmith.com | http://www.websiteurl.com
Twitter: http://twitter.com/twittername | LinkedIn: http://linkedin.com/in/linkedinname

John Smith

Forums or Discussion Lists:

John Smith

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