What elements should you include in your email signature line?

One of my biggest professional pet peeve’s is when I can’t find direct contact information in someone’s email. It happens more often than I’d care to admit. Since we rely so heavily on email communication in today’s business environment, it just seems to be table stakes to me: Include your email signature in all outbound emails.

We can all agree on that, right? Speak now or forever hold your peace.

The biggest question then is what elements should be in your email signature? Those opinions vary widely–at least according to what I’ve seen on email signatures in the last few months.

I’ve seen email signatures with quotes, lists of speaking engagements and company logos.

None of which I’d include in my signature. My theory? Keep it simple. But, give people what they need (hint: basic contact info).

We don’t care about random Dali Lama quotes. We don’t care about your company logo (we’re happy for you, but we still don’t care). And, we most certainly don’t care about your list of speaking engagements in the last year (at least not in this format).

So, what DO we care about? Here’s what I’d suggest listing in your professional email signature line:

* Name (first and last)

* Title (and please don’t include “ninja” in your title–even if you are trying to be funny)

* Phone (seven digits; work and cell, if appropriate; fax number if it’s relevant to your industry)

* Email (pretty simple, right?)

* Web (still the best place to find more about you)

* Twitter (but only if you’re fairly active; if you don’t keep up your account, please do not include, it’s worthless).

* Blog (again, only if you keep the blog up-to-date)

Those are my thoughts. Notice, I’m not suggesting you list out every social network you’re active on. I’m not suggesting you include any artwork. I’m not suggesting you include a link to your most recent campaign.

OK, your turn. What do you think? What should be included in your email signature line?

Note: Photo courtesy of Wisestamp Email Signatures via FlickR Creative Commons.

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32 comments on “What elements should you include in your email signature line?

  1. MissyBerggren says:

    Hey Arik, I agree with you – simple is better. Quotes are annoying, but what really bugs me are people who try to be super-creative with their signature fonts and colors. A multi-colored, comic sans signature doesn’t impress me. In fact, it makes me think you spend too much time worrying about how you look instead of your work.

    Include: name/title/company/phone/web/twitter (agree, only if active)

    And keep your fonts simple and black (unless your company gives you a branded template).

  2. arikhanson says:

    @MissyBerggren Fonts and artwork. No question. No need for it. Stick to the basics.

  3. mjkeliher says:

    You mean 10 digits on the phone number, right? The area is pretty important these days.

    Also, someone should tell John Smith he misspelled “really.”

  4. arikhanson says:

    Why you got go all details on me Keliher? 😉

  5. grantspanier says:

    Ah. I’ll be editing my email signature right about now…

  6. lyanow says:

    What would you recommend for a recent grad that is currently an intern? I have a signature for my work e-mail address very similar to that, but what should my personal one say…

    Univeristy of Missouri Graduate? School of Journalism? Should I include where I’m currently intern?

  7. jasondouglas says:

    Here’s my personal signature:

    Jason Douglas

    Search, Social Media Marketing

    123-456-7890 (I do have an actual phone number)

    Link to Twitter

    Link to LinkedIn

    Link to Blog

    My professional signature is similar but has the office address in there as well.

    I have always questioned why people put email in a signature. If you are receiving an email from a person, is it not intuitive to look in the “from” area? I also have my links descending from most active to least.

  8. arikhanson says:

    @jasondouglas You would think so, but I’m not always sure that’s the case. That’s why I usually include it. Forgot about LinkedIn–that can make sense. And, obviously, office address, too (in my case, I don’t necessarily have a physical office outside the home, which is why I don’t include it on my signature).

  9. arikhanson says:

    @lyanow I’m not sure there’s a difference anymore between “personal” and “professional.” Just my opinion, mind you, but I’d probably keep them the same. But, that’s more of a personal preference.

  10. DeborahEly-Lawrence says:

    Office address is an absolute must! On several occasions I’ve referred back to an old email for a business address to send a package or holiday card. Without an email address, I have to go look up a business address. In the case of someone who works at a company will multiple offices, you simply don’t know where to send something.

  11. mndesigngal says:

    Very true. No inspiration quote or separation line …………………………………….

    (My Pet Peeves)

    Thanks Arik, great simple topic executed perfectly!

    -Tricia

  12. JGoldsborough says:

    @arikhanson @jasondouglas Big fan of including e-mail addy in your signature. Here’s why. Jason, say you get an e-mail from Arik. Then you forward it on to someone and suggest they contact Arik. Sometimes when you do that in Outlook, it just pulls through the name of the person who sent the initial e-mail, not their e-mail address. In that case, having the e-mail addy in the signature makes it easy for your contact to still reach Arik without much heavy lifting.

    Good to see you on Livefyre, Mr. Hanson :).

  13. MattLaCasse says:

    I agree with everything except for including your email address. I mean, if you have sent the person an email, don’t they already have it?

  14. ryanknapp says:

    I disagree with the quote or line afterwards. In my personal email I’ve had the same quote for the last three years “Little by little you have to teach the United States that this is the best game in the world.” Johan Cruyff. I’ve received quite a lot of replies from people commenting on that statement and it’s sparked quite a few conversations.

    I’d rather see a quote than a 15 line signature with so much other useless info.