The 4 Personalities of Poor Email Signatures

Alyssa Gregory

An email signature should provide some very basic information about who you are, what you do and how you can be reached. But the possible ways to format that information are boundless.

If you get the constant barrage of incoming mail, like I do, you probably have seen a nice variety of email signatures. And I’m sure there have been some that make you wonder what the sender was thinking. The bottom line is there are certain formats that work better than others in getting your information across in an effective and unobtrusive way (more on that later).

I did some scanning of archived messages, and I noticed there are certainly some patterns in how people sign and close out their messages. I’ve grouped the four most conspicuous formats into four common personality types. Oh, and please note that all references to “John Smith” are fictional and do not apply to a real person.

1. The Novelist

The novelist has an email signature that spans an entire screen length. They provide a lot of information – way too much information — in complete sentences that almost feels like a second email within an email. They typically include links to a handful of web sites, a summary of their experience and current endeavors, every type of contact information they have, a special deal or free teleclass, and close it out with a favorite quote or two.

email signatures

2. The Standout

The standout loves using bold fonts, bright colors and enlarged text. And they format every line differently. The standout’s email signature is a rainbow of blue, green, orange and pink. They also use email stationery and change their theme weekly. And when they make the change, they sometimes forget to change the font colors to accommodate the new background color. So it’s not unusual for the recipient to be reading yellow text on a white background, or red on purple.

email signatures

3. The Graphic Addict

The graphic addict typically includes their company logo, a headshot, and assorted social media icons in their email signature. They freshen up their signature with Microsoft clipart for holidays and special events, and tend to just resize the graphics inline, instead of reducing the file size and optimizing them. They usually don’t test their signature on various email clients, so their messages may be ridden with broken images, or all of the images are included as attachments.

email signatures

4. The Mysterious

The mysterious sender rarely uses an email signature. In fact, they usually don’t even sign their name. True, it’s usually clear who the message is coming from, but it can be highly puzzling to recipients they don’t communicate with often, and very frustrating to those who need a phone number or other contact information. The mysterious sender is also known for using a lot of abbreviations in their messages and providing little clarification.

email signatures

Okay, as fun as this exercise has been, there is a point. There is a way to create an effective email signature and avoid being lumped into one of the signature-challenged groups listed above. Stay tuned for tomorrow’s post, which will provide tips to help you improve your email signature.

What are some of your email signature stories? Have you seen (or used) a dancing Santa?

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