Email signatures are the John Hancocks of the digital age.
Unfortunately, a distressing number of email users today feel the overwhelming need to take the metaphor all the way and actually make their signatures as huge, bold, and flashy as the original John Hancock’s.
When that happens, the result can be eye-bleedingly awful for anyone subjected to reading said email signatures, certainly not an experience you want to inflict on your business email recipients.
Here’s the rundown on what not to include in your email signature, along with some tips for creating the most efficient one possible.
No eye-bleeding involved.
If Your Email Signature Looks Like This, You’re Doing It Wrong
This is your professional email, not your high school yearbook. As such, it’s not the place to feature aphorisms like, “Don't judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant.”
A worthy piece of advice, to be sure, but the person reading your email most likely doesn’t care.
A Reiteration of the Sender’s Email Address (Often Hyperlinked)
Kevin Zawacki at Slate.com likens this to, “Placing two return address stickers on an envelope”. First of all, it feels like you’re beating your recipient over the head with your contact information.
And, from a practical standpoint, it’s completely redundant. The recipient already has your email address; if they want to respond to your email they simply have to hit “Reply”.
This is 2016. It’s not that complicated.
Too Many Fonts
Using more than two different fonts (particularly novelty ones) in your email signature is a recipe for a design headache. It looks cluttered and unprofessional.
Additionally, if you’re creating a text signature and end up using a novelty font, you can’t guarantee your recipient will have that same font installed on their computer.
The result could be a jumbled mess looking nothing like the way you intended it.
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Too Much Text, Period
You may be familiar with these types of text signatures, full of information stacked line by individual line. First, you have the sender’s name.
Then their title. Then their work phone number, then their extension, then their email address, then their fax number, and so on.
A slight exaggeration perhaps (mostly), but the point is this: nobody likes to scroll and scroll to find the information they’re looking for. The key is to keep it simple.
The Makings of a Great Email Signature
Conversely, many of the best email signatures share the following characteristics.
You don’t need to bombard your recipients with a plethora of information. Stay short, sweet, and to-the-point. Give them only the information that really counts. Such as:
Just the Basics
As earlier stated, it’s unnecessary to restate your email address in your signature. Ask yourself what information is actually crucial, and what could be omitted for the sake of clarity.
Your phone number is almost always important to include, along with the name of your company. Your job title is also helpful so the recipient can have a better idea of your role in the company.
Finally, depending on your line of work (such as recruitment), you may find it helpful to provide links to your social media platforms, but only if they are relevant and there aren’t a hundred of them.
Clean, Eye-Catching Graphics
If you’ve chosen to use a customized graphic for your email signature, make sure it’s not a mess of fonts and colors. It’s best to eliminate distractions by using only one or two colors (and as many fonts) in your signature graphic.
One option is to use a professional headshot of yourself in the signature, which helps your recipient put a face with your name and generally personalizes the message.
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You also want to make sure the graphic isn’t absurdly huge, to ensure it loads properly for the recipient.
If your professional email signature is carrying too much weight to stay afloat, this might be a good time to see what you can do to slim it down.