Better email signatures

I don’t think I’m the only one who has printed out an email and ended up printing an extra page with one or two lines on it: perhaps to add to the irony, it’s a line about saving the environment.

These kind of automatically-added footers – the ones with a hard-to-read disclaimer – are usually controlled by your email host or IT department. You won’t usually have control over these footers, but you can control the wording of another segment of text that is automatically included in every email you send.

This text is called your email *signature* and can be configured in different ways depending on the program (or website) you use to check your email.

What should go in the signature? You might think it’s just the “best regards” and your name. Some people used to add a funny or inspiring quote too, and if you want to add a part of your personality to your email, this might be a good idea.

An even better idea is to include all of the contact details you’re prepared to share with people that you’re emailing. Have you ever been reading an email from someone, and needed to pick up the phone, or talk to them in some other way? If they have an email signature that contains their phone number, this saves you a trip to the address book.

Likewise if you have to mail someone something – are you forcing people who read your email to go through extra steps to contact you?

Perhaps you’ve sent someone an invoice: if they need to contact you about it, why not make it as easy as possible?

Coming back to our original example, you shouldn’t have an email signature that is 20 lines long, but at least, you should include:

– your full name
– any relevant phone numbers, with international dialing codes
– some kind of physical address
– your email address
– any relevant web address

Why include your email address? When someone forwards an email, it’s common for an email address to be replaced with a name. This means that someone who has an email of yours is unable to email you back!

Do you have any ideas for things that you found helpful in an email signature? Share them in the comments!

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