The Modern John Hancock, Your Email Signature

Email Signature Best Practices

1. Less is more.

This is the most important rule for email signatures. All the important information needs to be in there, but get rid of everything else.

  • Include only the basics: Your name, company and position, and how you want them to get in touch with you.
  • Keep lines short and few. Go to two or four lines, with an absolute maximum of 72 characters per line (many email applications have a maximum width of 80 characters, so limit the length to avoid unsightly wrapping).

2. Keep it plain.

  • Emails in plain text are more likely to get past spam filters and they just look better.
  • Stick with one web-compatible font (plain text), and keep the font size 10pts or smaller.

3. Ditch the photo or logo.

  • 2005 was a great year for putting your logo in your email signature, but for a number of reasons inline images aren’t recommended anymore.
  • No headshots please – save your ‘blue-steel’ glamour shot for business-facing social media platforms like LinkedIn.

4. Keep social media to a minimum.

  • It is okay to include basic social media if it supports your business. (LinkedIn, company Facebook Page).
  • Don’t use more than two social links — nobody wants to see your Pinterest link unless you use it to showcase your work.
  • Put social media links at the very bottom. It’s kind of a bonus and you should go down in hierarchy of importance.

5. Trim the trimmables.

  • Instead of using “Office:” or “Cell”, consider using “O:” for office and “C:” for cell. Or if you only have one phone number, leave it out altogether.
  • Never include superfluous words, like “Contact” or “Address:”- it’s insinuated. If you can say ‘duh’ after it, it isn’t needed and you should definitely leave it out.
  • Consider losing your email address, they have it in the email. Some people fight this, but the adage rules “When in doubt, leave it out.”
  • Unless you work for the government, lose the fax number.
  • “Never put quotes at the end of your email.” — Socrates

6. Double-check punctuation and capitalization.

  • Make sure your punctuation on your city/state is correct. Using “|”’s is a nice, clean way to add separations, so you can keep more info on one line. (i.e. mailing addresses)
  • Make phone numbers mobile-friendly. Dashes are the most universally clickable for mobile phones.

7. Links should be clickable.

  • Links are call-to-actions, so make sure they are clickable (Test on several different platforms)
  • Write out your website URL instead of embedded hyperlinks (i.e. “Website”) at bottom.
  • People like to see where they are going and it will help them recall it later, if they don’t have your email in front of them.
  • Keep your outbound links grouped together, at the bottom, not staggered around.

8. You have to keep it separated.

  • Add a line separator above your email signature to keep it separate from the body of your email. “–” is also a standard separator.
  • I prefer doing signatures as a gray instead of black. It also helps the content of your email look more prominent.

9. Implement the brand police.

  • Businesses should follow all these principals, but adding one more: All signatures should look identical and be incorporated in the internal brand-standard handbook.
  • Barbara in accounting would be breaking corporate policy if she included her Word clip art, and should be punished accordingly.

These are the basics, but that’s what email signatures should be. So pull out the scissors and cut that email signature down until there’s nothing left but contact information.