Creating a Professional Email Signature: Mistakes to Avoid

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A good email signature can get your foot in the door with anyone you want. A wrong one can send you to the spam folder. That explains why a professional email signature is important for all. You can be a college student applying for a summer internship or a professional trying to step up in a career or, even a sales professional making a cold sales pitch. Irrespective of the purpose for which you use email, a professional email signature can make or break your conversation with the recipient. In fact, a good email signature is also critical to your personal brand. Quite often, folks who know the value of an email signature end up overdoing their signatures. The embellishments clutter the signature and turn into an odd thing that immediately turns off the recipient. You might have made a great impression with your email, but, if your email signature does not stand up to it, all effort will go to waste. So, it is necessary that you keep in mind some do’s and don’ts to follow while creating a professional email signature. Since the internet is already filled to the brim with the do’s, let’s look at something you must avoid while designing your email signature.

Following these don’ts will ensure that your email signature is top-notch and sends the right message to the recipient.

Creating a Professional Email Signature – Dont’s

1. Don’t use custom fonts

Custom fonts are great when you have a company website or a publication where visual presentation style is critical. Of course, your email signature also deserves its own dose of style. However, using custom fonts in email signatures has several downsides.

The prominent downside is that most of your recipients may not have your custom font installed on their devices. As a result, your email signature could appear distorted, far away from the fine classy you want it to appear.

If you are so keen to use custom fonts, try using web-safe fonts. Web-safe fonts are fonts that are compatible with most operating systems and devices. They stand a better chance of appearing exactly as they are intended for users. Some popular web safe fonts include Georgia, Serif, Arial, Verdana, Courier, Didot, etc.

2. Don’t embed animations or GIFs

GIFs are great. Especially the cat ones. They work well in blogs when a reel of humor is required to keep readers engaged. However, embedding animations or GIFs in email signatures can backfire.

There are two reasons why you should avoid animations or GIFs. First, most email clients like Gmail or Apple mail can play animations, but not every email client. If your recipient happens to be using an email client, your animation or GIF may fail to play and leave a blank email signature.

Secondly, the choice of animation or GIF is hard to nail. Even by mistake, if you picked one that crosses the borders of decency in a corporate setting, you could be looked upon as immature or even an unprofessional person. So, the safest thing to do is to avoid embedding animations or GIFs in your email signature.

3. Don’t preach motivational quotes

More than caffeine, we all will need some amount of motivation to get through the day. But, email signatures are definitely not the right channel to share your dose of motivation.

This is because the quotes that you share may not fit well with your recipient. Also, if the quote is not chosen cautiously, it could go against your company’s values and ethos.

So, to be on the safer side, don’t include preachy motivational quotes in the email signature.

4. Don’t divulge too much personal information

An email signature gives information that is slightly more than your actual signature which says only your name. It tells who you work with, your designations, professional certifications and the company you work with. It is also common practice to include social media icons that direct to your personal handles.

Divulging more personal information on your email signature is not an ideal practice. First of all, it will elongate the email signature, which could look on various screen sizes. Combine that with a poorly designed email signature and you are bound to irk your recipient than impress them.

As a thumb rule, stick to having only three or at the most four lines of textual information. And such information should be essential information that the recipient would want to know to decide whether or not to connect with you.

5. Don’t mention pointless certifications

If you are a qualified or licensed professional whose job prospects are dependent on the certifications and qualifications, it makes sense to include them in your email signature. For example certifications and qualifications like CPA, CFA, PMP, etc.

However, any other certifications that the recipient may not recognize should ideally be removed. Ask yourself before including these certifications whether they are unnecessary additions or add true value to your email signature. Ultimately, they should help in making an impression on the recipient and influence them to strike a conversation with you.

You can also have a look at email signature tips.

6. Don’t display unnecessary social icons

Facebook. Twitter. Linkedin. These are the most popular social media icons that are showcased in an email signature. If you are a visual designer, you can include the links to your Behance or Dribble account as icons. If you are a software developer, GitHub or Stackoverflow would be a good choice. For a writer, Medium, Quora, or a Substack account should be good enough.

Be careful not to sprinkle too many social media icons. They are distracting and also can confuse the recipient into taking no action at all. The key is to decide which social media account you want to showcase. Determine the best handle based on your activities, the number of followers and the kind of work you have shared in the handle.

7. Don’t create the signature as an image

The purpose of an email signature is to help the recipient gather your information as quickly as possible, maybe copy your contact number, click on your website link and visit it, check out social media handles and so on.

If your email signature is embedded as an image, it defeats all the purpose. It prevents the recipient from copying your contact information or interacting with the elements in the email signature.

There is also the risk of email clients not displaying the image properly thereby causing your information to be lost as well. So a big NO to creating your email signature as an image.

8. Don’t attach HD images

Your recent headshot image, the company logo, an award that you or your company won recently, all are great to include in the email signature. However, care should be taken to ensure that heavy imagery that takes a long to load is not included in the email signature.

HD imagery can slow down the email from loading, especially on mobile devices. Sometimes email clients might even truncate the email signature to save system resources while loading the email. To be on the safer side, ensure that the images you use are lightweight and are easy to load. Also, JPG is recommended over any other formats.

9. Don’t use CSS

CSS (cascading style sheets) is used by web developers and designers to create web pages and HTML email templates. CSS helps them specify the color, fonts and other visual elements to be included in the page. The downside of using CSS is that some email clients are not compatible with them, Outlook to name one.

Also, each email client could handle the CSS code in a different way. As a result, there is a huge possibility that the email signature would appear in a different manner than what is intended when it is designed using CSS. the ideal thing to do would be to use in-line CSS.

in-line CSS requires the developer/designer to specify the formatting instructions on a line-by-line basis. This helps the email client to load the signature in a better way without losing out on visual elements.

10. Don’t ignore call-to-actions

Call-to-actions are used when you want the user to take some action to see your email or your email signature. But, given the position and the size of your email signature, what possible CTA can you add?

Turns out, there is a world of opportunities out there. Email signatures are widely used to plug in the latest resource releases like eBooks, blogs, white papers, etc. They can also be used to announce an upcoming webinar, podcast, interview or even a conference. In other words, they can be used as miniature flyers. However, when inserting CTAs in email signatures, do not forget the rule to keep them short and concise. A lengthy email signature is a bad one.

11. Don’t overdo colors

Your email signature should draw attention not grab it by the collars in a rude fashion. Lavish use of colors does that. Instead, try to use a subtle theme. The ideal color theme would be one that matches your brand presets. It helps ensure consistency across the entire email’s layout and is also pleasing to the eye. As a thumb rule, use only one or two colors while creating your professional email signature.

To make sure that the vital parts of the email signature, like your name, designation, contact, etc. stands out — you can use sections and different font sizes. Sections can be created using horizontal and vertical lines that divide each content into separate sections. Additionally, you can also place icons amidst text to break the text clutter.

12. Don’t forget to update the email signature

Your email signature requires constant updating. It is not something that is done and dusted once it is created. There are certain parts of the email signature that you must meticulously update to ensure correctness.

Always ensure that the contact information is accurate and working. A redundant phone number is the last thing you want on the email signature. The same applies to your social media handles, website links, and other additional links if any.

Also, the designation should also be updated every time you have a change. Ideally, it should reflect what you are showcasing in your visiting card, your LinkedIn bio or what is recognized in your domain. Missing to forget your email signature is a poor reflection of your professionalism.

13. Don’t append long legal disclaimers

We get it. You want to be sure that the information you share over an email must be treated with confidentiality and integrity. You might also be using a legal disclaimer to show that your business is compliant with all security protocols.

However, long legal disclaimers are a waste of space. There is hardly anyone who peruses legal disclaimers, especially when it comes as a part of an email signature. If it cannot be excluded, the right thing to do would be to include a few critical lines that encapsulate the disclaimer. You can also include a link to the complete version of the disclaimer to save space.

Conclusion

We send countless emails on a single day. ‘Thank you’, ‘Regards’, ‘Best’, are the most commonly used email sign-offs. Email signatures go beyond these phrases and give a touch of finesse to your profile. They showcase who you are, what makes you relevant to the conversation and how you can be contacted if there is a need.

Creating a professional email signature is no easy task. There are several things to bear in mind before starting to design it. Once you have these things in mind, and if you manage to follow the best practices, you can have a highly professional email signature that you can proudly attach to your resume.

Don’t forget to follow the above-mentioned list of don’ts while creating a professional email signature.


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