Email signatures. Keep it simple.

How do you construct your email signature? Is it a personal creation or a variation of a template you found? With the volume of emails sent each day and importance of email for business communication the email signature is definitely an important mark in our digital lives. You might be surprised to know there is even a Wikipedia entry on email signature blocks.

Kate Neville of Smashing Magazine gives a good interpretation of the art and science of email signatures.  The foundational advice in her post is to be concise with the email signature. Keep it simple and stick to main purpose.

I see three areas of focus with email signatures: the purpose. design, and content. Email signatures were created as a  way to deliver information about how to get in touch with the email author.  It’s like a business card appended to the end of each message. Many people I know use email signatures as their primary phone book. Rather than pulling a number from a database or other list, they will find an email from the person and lookup the signature information to find the phone number.

Designs vary based on how the author decides to use text, html, and images. If there are images, they should be kept to a minimum so as not to distract from the real message and so that they don’t cause formatting issues with email clients. Some things I don’t like in a signature design include different fonts, flashing text, quotations, and large images. Generally these only serve to distract the reader, take up unnecessary space, and cause issues with email client formatting.

With our digital lives growing it’s tempting to list all of our social contact information in the email. I’ve done it before, but I now question the purpose of it. Should I list Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, email, mobile number, work number, address, etc.? It starts to get overwhelming for me, so what would someone reading an email from me think?  So I decided to get back to the purpose of the signature which is to give the recipient information about who I am and how to follow-up with me.

So I simplified my signature to this:

Bob Williams

For work emails I can simply add the company name and title below my name. Then keep a phone number, email, and LinkedIn profile with it.

I chose my LinkedIn profile over other digital IDs because this profile contains links to other sites with my content, but it also contains a summary about who I am professionally. You could make a case that someone only needs to list a phone number and email as contact information follow-up. But I like giving one extra link with information about who I am.

How do you make your email signature?

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