by Kelly Watkins

When you finish typing an email message, don’t forget to sign it. In email language, that doesn’t mean simply typing your name. The “signature block” contains a great deal more information.

An email is a blank screen. It contains none of the contact information found on traditional company letterhead or stationery. So, you need to provide this information in the form of a signature block.

Avoid the temptation to create a fancy banner with lots of symbols at the top of your email message. Most of that fancy schmancy stuff doesn’t translate well from one email system to another. It also creates huge files, which means the message takes forever to open. Locking up a client’s email is not the best way to make a positive impression on him/her.

The best position for the signature block is at the end. When creating your block, try to keep it to four lines. In some cases, you may need more space. Use caution, though, or the contact information may end up being longer than the body of the message. To solve this, try putting multiple pieces of information on a line. For example: Marketing Director, ABC Meeting Planners.

In determining what to include—again think of your letterhead. Provide your full name, title, company name, phone number, and email address. You may also want to give your mailing address and fax number. If you have a website, list that address, too. Don’t miss an advertising opportunity.

Why include all this contact information? Maybe an important client wants to call you instead of replying via email. Don’t make it difficult for him/her to find you. Including your email address is not redundant. Messages get forwarded, edited, etc. The ultimate receiver may not have a clue who the original sender was.

I receive requests from people for information, almost daily, and they don’t tell me who they are or where they are. Even after requesting a mailing address, the response often comes back with no company name. Can you imagine mailing something to a 40-story office building that contains 150 businesses with the envelope addressed only to an individual?

If you work for a large company, such as a hotel or convention center, consider using a separate signature for internal messages, since your coworkers don’t need all those details. You might provide your phone extension, in case there isn’t a company directory handy, and your department, if the receiver doesn’t know you.

To keep you from having to re-type all this information with every message, newer email programs allow you to create standard signature blocks. This feature is usually found under the “Options” or “Preferences” heading. It automatically inserts the block at the bottom of your message. You can create numerous signatures and use them for different types of emails. If you use the same closing (Sincerely; Warmly; Regards) for all correspondence, you can save even more time by including it in your signature block.


About the Author: Kelly J. Watkins, MBA, Sign up for a f.r.e.e. Mini-Workshop. Discover practical tips and techniques to make your email messages more effective. (How good are your email skills? Take a fun quiz and find out.