Creating the perfect email signature

24 Nov 2011
email

Simon Jones reveals best practices for setting up your email signatures

How you sign your emails can say a lot about you and your relationship to the recipient.

If you’re writing about business, you probably won’t want to sign your emails “Love, Cathy xx” in a flowery pink font – it would be more usual to provide information such as your name, job title, company, phone numbers, and so on.

And the font, size, colour and placement of the items you employ may affect how you and your company are perceived.

Companies often spend a lot of money having headed notepaper designed and printed, and choosing fonts for their printed letters, but even though an increasing amount of communication happens via email, they’ll just plonk Outlook onto every user’s desktop so that everyone bashes out their emails in different fonts and colours.

If you’re writing about business, you probably won’t want to sign your emails 'Love, Cathy xx' in a flowery pink font

As for signatures, anything goes – the electronic equivalent of scribbling a note to the milkman, just grab the nearest felt-tip and any old scrap of paper. Not very professional. If one of your customers receives email from two or more different people in your company, can they tell that these people work for the same firm?

If there are only a few people in your company, you can probably agree to use a standard form of wording for your signatures. Let one person design it by themselves and then email the resulting signed message to all the others.

They can then easily copy and paste the text into a new signature in their own copy of Outlook, and adjust it to show their name, job title, phone number, and so on.

Just select the signature block and press Ctrl-C to copy, then create a new email message, paste the signature into it and alter its text to reflect your own details (taking care not to alter its formatting in the process). Now select all and copy again, then click Insert | Signature | Signatures… from the Ribbon, click New to create and name a new signature and then paste in the copied text and click Save.

Signature design

If you’re the one chosen to design the signature, here are a few things you ought to consider. First, you want something that looks good; second, email is a very challenging medium because you can’t guarantee exactly what it will look like at the other end, in different email clients using different fonts.

Third, remember the mantra “less is more”, because an over-elaborate signature can be just as off-putting as a scrappy one. If you already have a corporate font and colour scheme, your signature should probably employ those. You may have chosen an Office Theme, or had a custom one created for you, to reflect these corporate fonts and colours.

An Office Theme consists of a pair of fonts – one for body text and one for headings – a set of 12 colours for background, body text, accents and hyperlinks, and a set of effects such as glow, shadow and bevelling to be applied to pictures, Smart Art, and other inserted objects.

Signatures

You can quickly apply this theme to a document or an email, and see all the elements change at once. If you habitually use the same theme for your Word documents, you’d open your normal.dotm template file, change the theme there and save the file, and thereafter all documents you create will display in the theme you chose. Similarly, if you want all your emails to use a particular theme, you can edit normalemail.dotm, change the theme and save the template.