Email etiquette can be tough to grasp and harder to master. Whether you’re trying to decide the best way to start an email or struggling to come up with an appropriate conclusion, finding the right balance in a platform that can walk the line between formal and casual conversation is a little daunting.
One thing you could do to help yourself end any email on an appropriate note is to set up an email signature. Signatures are automatically applied to the bottom of your message and are available through most email services.
Ideally, a signature should explain who you are and how someone can get in touch with you, without overwhelming the reader with excessive information. With that in mind, here are a few Dos and Don’ts to writing an effective signature.
Do Explain Who You Are
Your signature should include your name, title or position, and company. If your reader is just getting to know you, he or she will likely be curious as to who you are, what you do, and what business you are with. These are all items that might come up in the body of your first email exchange, but it’s good to include them in your signature as well for easier reference.
Don’t Drone On
Your signature should be short and sweet. If you’re going beyond three or four lines there’s a good chance you’re including unnecessary fluff that your reader doesn’t need or care to see. If you’re going past six lines, seriously consider how much of what you’ve written is truly important.
Do Include Your Contact Information
Including your phone number will give your reader another way of contacting you, so consider adding it to your signature. If you have a direct extension then add that in too. This could even be a good place to plug a link your website, or social media accounts like your LinkedIn profile or company Facebook page.
Don’t Include Your Email Address
You may not write your name and phone number in every email, but your readers certainly have your email address. They could see that piece of contact information the moment your message entered the inboxes, so avoid the redundancy of pasting it into your signature. Adding unnecessary details in the signature makes the area look long and clunky.
Do Include a Headshot
A picture of your face can make your emails feel more personal, reminding acquaintances of the person they’ve met before and showing new contacts that there’s a real person behind the the email they’re reading.
Don’t Use an Unprofessional Photo
Wearing a collared shirt or other work-appropriate attire for your signature’s photo will make you look professional. Dressing too casually in this photo, however, can do the opposite and may make readers second guess your business practices.
Do Use Simple Graphics
If you’re not including a headshot, then consider putting your company logo next to your signatures’ text. If you’re adding links to your social media pages, try incorporating clickable icons. Most people will recognize the corresponding social media logos, and it will look cleaner than a bunch of text-links to your pages.
Don’t Settle for a “Sent from my iPhone” Signature
A 2011 Stanford study found that readers were more forgiving of spelling errors and similar mistakes if they knew the email was written on a mobile device, but that doesn’t mean you should take the easy way out. Mobile keyboards have come a long way since 2011, and if you want to look professional it’s better not to have mistakes that need forgiving in the first place.
Follow these tips, and you’ll end up with a signature that looks a little something like this:
You can add other information you feel is particularly pertinent as well, just don’t go overboard with the details and drown your reader. You’ll notice this signature uses bold and orange-colored font in a couple places; little touches like that can help highlight important information within the signature, but keep the stylization simple and reserved.