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Creating the perfect email signature

Posted on 24 Nov 2011 at 16:34

Simon Jones reveals best practices for setting up your email signatures

Avoid the use of symbol fonts such as Wingdings to insert glyphs depicting telephone handsets or envelopes, since these may look fantastic in HTML mail, but may render as strange, nonsensical characters once converted to plain text.

Consider having at least two different signatures for each person: you might design a long one to be used when sending mail to a new contact, which includes all your details, and then a shorter one to be used in replies to emails, to save repeating the same information to someone who already knows it.

You’ll want to keep a signature for quite some time before changing it, to avoid looking as though you can’t make up your mind

You might also have an ultra-short signature for use on messages to people within the company. Microsoft offers help, training and sample signature layouts at the Office website.

Treat these samples as hints rather than gospel, and play with several possibilities before settling on one design. You’ll want to keep a signature for quite some time before changing it, to avoid looking as though you can’t make up your mind.

UK company regulations now state that you must include your company’s name, registered office address, registration number and country in any email, just as in a regular business letter, so if your mail server is already set up to do this, then don’t duplicate all the info in your signature.

If you feel tempted to include a lengthy disclaimer (either in your signature or automatically added by your email server), then my advice would again be don’t – nobody reads it, and in any case it isn’t legally enforceable, so it isn’t worth the bandwidth it consumes.

Disclaimers merely suggest to recipients that you’re trying to pre-empt incompetent failures such as sending a message to the wrong person, or failing to virus check it. Don’t hide behind such legalese words: take a look at Out-Law.com for a good summary of what it might be worth putting into any disclaimer.

Signature software

If you have more than about ten people in your company, you might want to look into using a third-party tool to automate the production and distribution of signatures, to enforce consistency.

Signature_Manager

The software available varies in cost, features and quality. Some can pick up the data from your Active Directory, while others maintain their own database of users. Other third-party tools contain fully featured editors, while some have extra modules that add marketing campaign information to signatures during a range of dates, or only for people in certain company departments.

For an idea of what third-party tools are available, check out: Exclaimer, Fischer and Kerrn, OutlookEmail.com, Signature.com and Policy Patrol.

Depending on the number of people in your company, you could spend from a few tens to several thousand pounds on such automated signature management software, but if presenting your company in a more professional manner helps you get or retain more customers then it’s probably worth it.

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User comments

email's not Microsoft

Shouldn't this article be titled "Creating the perfect Outlook signature"?

By HeavyTrain on 30 Nov 2011

Query by Example

I would have thought that many of the points mentioned would transfer easily to another email client. If there is one...

By JohnGray7581 on 6 Dec 2011

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Simon Jones

Simon Jones

Simon is a contributing editor to PC Pro. He's an independent IT consultant specialising in Microsoft Office, Visual Basic and SQL Server.

Read more More by Simon Jones

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