E-mail Signature Files

I decided to update my work e-mail signature file to reflect my new job title and at the same time make it automatically attach via my e-mail clients (Mozilla Thunderbird and the Gmail interface). While doing so I decided to look at what the prevailing thought on e-mail signatures is. Using a Google Search I picked out about ten Web pages/blog posts to review on this subject and this is what I found.

Things that all or almost all of the posts agreed upon:

  1. Name (obvious, no?)
  2. Professional Title / Position
  3. Website URL (One or two people said it wasn’t needed but most thought this was good. Personally I think unless it is a small company with a minimal Web site you should include it. For example, finding the Library Web site on a large University site can sometimes take a while).
  4. Phone number (Possibly also Mobile and Fax numbers. Joshua Dorkin pointed out “If you’re not willing to include a phone number with an email, then who on earth can take you seriously?“).
  5. Keep the signature from 4 to 6 lines

Her are some things that some people thought were appropriate and others not:

  1. E-mail Address (Some people said it is in the header, but others pointed out that some e-mail clients hide it and once the mail gets forwarded, the e-mail address may no longer be there. Personally, I decided to include it).
  2. Instant Messaging Names (I didn’t see anyone say not to include it, but only a few mentioned it. Nathan Jones pointed out you should only include one. I would just say if you use IM all the time it makes sense, but if you are a light or even moderate user, probably not.
  3. Mobile Note (As with IM, I didn’t see anyone say not tto include it, but not everyone mentioned it. Nathan Jones writes “I think it’s a good idea to add a small note at the bottom of the signature that indicates that the email is being sent from your mobile phone.” The thought is that people will be more forgiving of small typos and short responses.
  4. Sig Separators (Again, no one said not to use them but I was surprised by how many didn’t mention them at all).

Here are somethings with more disagreement where the leaning was to not include the following:

  1. Business address (More people in my small sample didn’t like the idea of a street address then did, but it was up for debate. Joshua Dorkin wrote “While it helps to know where someone’s physical presence is, in the current day and age people aren’t using snail mail as often as they used to. Mailing addresses are great to have, but not 100% necessary.” Others thought it depended on how hard it would be to find out the address or if people are likely to want to come visit you. Personally I included it because people may not know where Binghamton University is otherwise, and If I’m going to include “Binghamton NY, USA” I might as well add a PO Box and Zip code. Besides, how often do a see complaints about job postings that don’t include addresses or people getting schools with similar names confused?).
  2. Quotes, mottos, etc. (Judith at Netmanners.com specifically pointed out not to “use inflammatory quotes in your signature file.” I see a lot of professional e-mail with quotes that might not be inflammatory, but definitely could turn some people off. On your personal e-mail to friends and family that is your choice but I don’t think it is appropriate for professional e-mail. I just say no to quotes in professional email signatures).
  3. Branding via color or images (Some thought minimal levels of branding such as fonts matching the organizations color or a small image are okay, but all agreed that too much is too much)
  4. Closing sentiment (Some posts mentioned that the “first line of an email signature should be a closing sentiment, such as ‘Thank you,’ or “Sincerely.’” Personally, I don’t agree. If I want a closing sentiment, I’ll type it myself and make sure it is appropriate for the situation).
  5. Formatting (Surprisingly not too many people mentioned formatting. One person that did was Judith at nermanners.com who said you should “align your sig’s text with spaces rather than tabbing […] Also keep in mind that you want to keep your sig file to 70 characters or less, as that is the set screen width default for most email programs.” I think the 70 character wide rule is a good one to keep in mind.
  6. Degrees (Most people thought listing things like MBA looked arrogant if for no other reason then because it is uncommon – at least in the United States. However, these people didn’t work at Universities as far as I could tell. I think the attitude in academia about this would be different than in corporations, so I see no harm in listing MLS, MBA, EdD, PhD, etc in the library world. I chose not to list my MLS, but if I had a doctorate I might have choose differently).

Anyway, if you are interested this is what I came up with…

Edward M. Corrado
Assistant Director for Library Technology
Binghamton University Libraries
P.O. Box 6012, Binghamton, NY 13902 USA
Phone: +1-607-777-4909 | Fax: +1-607-777-4848
ecorrado@binghamton.edu | http://library.binghamton.edu


  1. Stephen Francoeur said,

    July 14, 2010 at 11:07:02

    This is great that you pulled all this together in a post. I don’t think it occurred to me when I did my sig file for my work email to do a little research first. One thing that I’ve found useful is to offer a link to a service where people can see my calendar online and schedule meetings with me. I use the free TimeBridge service, which connects with Microsoft Outlook on my desktop and allows people to send me invites to meetings that, when I accept them, get synced with my Outlook account. Here’s the link from my sig file for that:


  2. ecorrado said,

    July 14, 2010 at 16:07:47

    Hi Stephen,

    The meeting link is an interesting idea (Not that I need any more meetings!). I need to look into that. I’m not sure if it makes sense for my duties to have it in an e-mail signature file, but it probably would be useful on my Web site.