Email Signatures Etiquette

While automating email signatures can be a useful time-saving device and has become quite commonplace, some individuals and organizations seem to practice bad email signature hygiene.

Here are 4 things you should not have in your email signature:

  1. The Company Logo
    • It bloats every email you send with an image, which takes up more space and slows down email downloads (particularly on mobile clients with poor connectivity).
    • It’s rarely shown by default by any modern email client.
    • It doesn’t help the reader in any way (s/he already knows what company you work for).
    • It makes it hard for others to find an attachment you send, since every email you send now appears to have an attachment.
  2. A vCard
    • This is only really useful the first time you email someone. After that, they presumably have gotten the contact info they need.
    • Like with the logo, every email you send has an attachment, making it difficult to find “real” attachments.
    • vCards often seem to have less contact information that the email signature does; use one or the other, not both.
  3. Big Email Signatures
    • Not every single contact method needs to be listed.
    • In particular, fax numbers are of considerably less utility now that we’re communicating by email.
    • Similarly, your company should be obvious to the people you email everyday; seeing as it’s usually in your domain name. Consider only adding this one the first email to someone.
    • The classic guideline was an email signature should not be longer than 4 lines. Maintaining that would be a good idea, even if it’s rarely followed.
  4. Legal Disclaimers
    • For many among the more internet savvy individuals, legal disclaimers have become something as a joke because they are unenforceable on so many levels.
    • They add a lot of clutter to emails, making them difficult to scan quickly for important information.

Personally, I don’t use email signatures. I write mine myself each and every time. This allows me to cater salutation and signature each time to the tone of the email. So quickly fired off responses in the middle of a quick exchange might not have a signature at all, casual emails to my friends don’t say “Best wishes,” each time, and more formal communications might be signed by my full name whereas more casual communications contain just my first time.

All of these decisions give little clues to the recipient as to the tone of the message, where our relationship stands, and helps alleviate the often toneless face that email presents to people who do not know me well.


~ by Nocturnal Discourse on 4 June 2009.

%d bloggers like this: