SUMMARY POINTS

  • Using Outlook email signatures benefits you and others
  • Create a simple signature with your key information
  • Customize with other elements to enhance things
You’re definitely not a newbie when it comes to email. You get in the zone daily and tackle piles of inbound emails every day and probably send out just as many, not to mention the CYA emails too.

Every once in a while, you come across an email with a crazy auto-signature at the bottom. It’s elaborate and overdone. You know exactly what we’re talking about here.

It’s the email signature that is jam-packed with all sorts of shit.

There’s a guy here, let’s call him “Rick Flair” to protect his identity. He’s got this kind of email signature.

His auto-signature starts out harmlessly with “Sincerely Yours,” and then it’s followed by a laundry list of other information.

It starts with his full name and inflated title. Below that, it’s the corporate logo, office address, work phone number, cell number, fax number, email address and social media buttons for Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram.

But wait, there’s more!

Along the left side of the signature is a glam headshot that’s photoshopped to take a decade off his age.

And if that wasn’t enough, below all of this nonsense, a decorative barbed wire border separates the signature from a corny personal tagline that only a pro wrestler would be proud of.

Anytime one of us gets an email from Rick, we try not to scroll down too far or else we’ll subject ourselves to the visual torture of his awful signature. It’s especially so when he sends out rude emails which happens a lot because he’s also the office asshole.

You definitely don’t want to be like Rick. However, your current lack of any kind of signature isn’t good either.

You need to up your email game in a good, sensible and professional way.

Here’s the why and how of it all.

Why It’s Important To Use An Email Auto-Signature

There was a time, way back in the day, when nearly every single office worker had this thing called a Rolodex on their desk. Rolodex was (and still is) a brand that manufactured all sorts of products for managing business cards and contact information.

One of their most popular products was a large rotating wheel that held individual blank cards for you to fill out with contact information or in some cases, it held a business card.

This is how office folks stored and managed contact information in the pre-digital age. This was before cell phones and way before the internet. It really helped to keep information anxiety at bay.

If you wanna a little retrospective fun, check out this 30-second clip.

VIDEO: Collections in Motion
YOUTUBE: Cooper Hewitt
LENGTH: 00:31
Today, we have all sorts of contact management tools. It's everything from the simple contacts app on your smartphone to full-blown online information management systems like Evernote.

The one drawback to all of these modern systems is that it still mostly relies on the user to input the information. And, let’s face it, most of us are lazy fucks when it comes to saving and recording all of our numerous business contacts on our phones. It’s just too many to have to go through.

So, lots of people resort to using email to find contact info. They’ll look for the auto signature at the bottom of the email and hope that there’s contact information there.

This is one of the main reasons why it's important to have an email signature with contact information. People often use email as their defacto contact database. So, it’s a good idea for you to have an auto-signature with your contact info.

Next, your email signature can also be a career networking tool too.

Imagine every single email you send out could help expand your network with the people you know and actually do business with. This is absolutely clutch when your company goes through reorgs and layoffs often.

When you spot the warning signs of layoffs, you can be better prepared and more confident in finding another job when you’re network is deep and wide.

Key Tips For Email Signatures

While there aren’t any formalized rules about how to set up your email signature, there are some unwritten guidelines that you should follow. It’s kinda like cubicle etiquette at the office.

Here are a few key pointers that you need to stick to when you’re putting together your email auto-signature. Apply these tips and you’ll be off to a great start.

1) Keep It Readable & Compact

We’ve all been through presentations where the font size is microscopic and totally unreadable. It’s worthless.

The same applies to your email signature. You need to keep it readable because we’re all dealing with digital eye strain now. This doesn’t mean that you need to use 20-point bold font. Just don’t use small font sizes. The rule of thumb here is to use the same font size as the default body text font size. This is usually between 10 to 12-point font.

Next, keep things compact. Meaning, your signature shouldn’t be more than 5 or 6 lines tops. You don’t want your signature to be like a paragraph or spread out to take up a half page.

2) Delete The Decorations

You may have some decorative elements in your social media profiles or avatars. And, that’s totally cool. However, this is your business profile and all of that fluff doesn’t belong here.

Don’t be tempted to add decorative borders, dividers, crazy graphics, etc. You need to keep this visually clean and straightforward. The less digital clutter, the better.

You need to dedicate the space for the core information like name, phone and email address. That’s the primary focus of the signature So, leave out the frills.

3) No Political Or Religious Taglines

You may be passionate about your religious and/or political affiliations. There’s nothing wrong with that. Everyone has the freedom to express themselves in whatever way they want - mostly.

We say mostly because when it comes to business communications, you are representing your company and not yourself or your own personal views.

It’s hard enough to navigate office politics. Don’t make it harder on yourself. So, it’s best to keep religious and political taglines out of this area or else you’ll be stirring shit up.

4) Lose The Fax Already

There are some informational elements that no longer need to be included in your signature.

When was the last time you needed to send a fax?

And when would you need to receive one?

There’s no need to have your fax number on your signature. Have them send it as an email attachment. It’ll be far easier this way.

The same can also be said for your office mailing address. It’s not something that people need to refer to often. In the rare instances that they do, they can email you for it. Otherwise, limit your office address for shipping personal packages to work.

5) Drop The Emojis

We’ll be the first to admit that emojis are great and tons of fun. They’re really effective in communicating emotions and feelings, much more so than text only.

However, emojis are best left to social media and your personal texting with friends and family. The one exception is for work purposes if your company’s informal work chat etiquette allows it.

For your business email signatures, leave the emojis out. It’s unprofessional unless you work for an emoji software company. 😉 

Simple Outlook Email Signature Templates

You’ve probably noticed that there are basically two camps when it comes to email signatures. They are about evenly split. You can see this for yourself in the emails you get today at work.

The first camp is those that use minimal or no email signature at all. These are the folks that just end their emails with their name or with the usual closing of thanks, regards, sincerely, respectfully, etc. and that’s it.

The other camp is those that go all out and pack their signature with all sorts of shit. Rick Flair’s auto-sig belongs in this camp. It’s loaded with too much information and other frivolous bullshit.

The best version lies in between these two camps. You don’t want it to be the bare minimum and you don’t want it to be overloaded either. You want to be in the goldilocks middle zone.

Here are several goldilocks signatures that you can use. Mix and match the elements and styles to create a version that you like.

1) Simple Text Only Signature

This text-only style is simple and straightforward. It’s very no-nonsense as it doesn’t use different font styles or sizes or any other add-ons.

Here’s a classic example:


Dilbert Smith, Sr. Engineer
Path-E-Tech Management Inc.
(650) 555-1212
[email protected]


Dilbert knows a thing or two about keeping things simple. Because he reports to a fucking clueless executive, he’s gotta use the lowest common denominator s
o that his boss gets it. And, keeping things simple is a great way to manage work stress.

The key contact info here is the phone number and email. Use the phone number where you’d want your business calls to go to. For some, it’s always the desk phone number at work. For others, it could be a cell phone number.

2) Signature With Corporate Logo

This version builds upon the simple text version above with the addition of the company logo. It adds a little bit of graphics to an otherwise plain-jane signature.

You might remember this legendary cubicle survivor:

Peter Gibbons, Project Manager
(650) 555-1212
[email protected]
Peter is our cubicle savior. He survived soul-crushing jobs with multiple bosses and gives us all hope that we can make it.

3) Profile Photo Signature

For those that literally want to put a face to a name, you can also add your profile photo to your signature. This is a great way for others to remember you and it also reinforces your unique professional image.

Here’s one that you might recognize:
Dwight Schrute
Assistant to the Regional Manager
Dunder Mifflin Paper Co.
(570) 555-1212
[email protected]
Limitless Paper in a Paperless World
Be sure to use a recent photo. One that is professional. It doesn’t have to be a Hollywood glamour headshot. It just can’t be a photo from your latest backyard bash or family outing.

The company tagline is optional. But as we all know, Dwight is quite a passionate paper industry professional. So, you know he’d add it to his signature.

4) Signature With LinkedIn Weblink

You may not have heard about this term, but there’s a thing called “Email signature marketing” where people use their signatures to market their products, services or even themselves. And, it’s the last one that you may want to consider.
Check this one out:

Homer Simpson
Nuclear Safety Inspector
Springfield Nuclear Power
[email protected]
(417) 555-1212
www.linkedin.com/homersimpson


BTW, how cool would it be if LinkedIn actually created a profile page for Homer?

If you remember, there was a period of time when Homer just couldn’t hold down a job. If he built out his network with some email signature marketing, maybe things would’ve been more stable.

The reality is that layoffs and reorgs are now commonplace and you need to strengthen and expand your network, especially those in your industry. Adding your LinkedIn web address (or LinkedIn icon) to your signature can help toward that effort without being all pushy about asking to connect.

If you don’t have a LinkedIn account, check out LinkedIn for beginners for more details and set one up.

How To Set Up Outlook Signatures

Now that you have a sense of the signature styles, the next thing you need to do is to get into the Outlook email signature settings to create your signature.

For details on how to do this, type “Add a signature” in the Outlook help section.

Also, here’s a comprehensive video clip that details each of the styles we explained above.

VIDEO: How to Add Signature in Outlook
YOUTUBE: Kevin Stratvert
LENGTH: 15:33
There are a lot of options when it comes to adding and customizing an Outlook signature. You could go down a rabbit hole looking at tons of signature styles and spend hours tweaking things.

Don’t overthink it.

Just start with a basic signature. Later on, you can get all fancy with other options.

The point is to get started with something simple.

Up Your Email Game With Signatures

Believe it or not, creating and using an email signature gives you a feeling that your work matters. It’s kinda like wearing your ID badge proudly at the office.

Using signatures gives each and every one of your emails a little bit of a sense of purpose and professionalism. Plus, it’s another tool that will boost your personal brand at work.

It also gives you that extra bit of professional flair, but not in the Rick Flair kinda way. It’s more like the smooth James Bond. It’s not outlandish. It’s quiet confidence.

Take a few minutes now and set up your auto-signature and you’ll be on your way.

Feel Better,
[Cubicle|Therapy]

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