Email signatures – Practical guidelines

Email is the most prolific business tool of our time.  Because we all use email (some of us on a daily basis) it makes sense to use your email programme to automatically insert your name and some basic contact details at the end of the email.  This saves you time as you won’t have to manually enter this information at the end of every email.  More than this, it is an opportunity to enhance your company’s branding.

Most email programmes such as Outlook and Mac Mail allow for this.  You may even find some basic email signature functionality on your smart phone.  Here are some helpful guidelines to keep your expectations in line with what is possible and what is practical.

A good business signature is:

  • visually appealing and reinforces branding
  • has a balance of content and hyperlinks
  • is functional across most email programmes and devices (smart phones, tablets, desktop)

This already rules out the option of designing the signature as an image.  Why?  Well because it’s not really functional – you can only link the entire image to one link (namely your website); you can’t copy and paste the contact details and you can’t make use of the smart phone’s click to call functionality on the phone numbers in the email signature.  So in the end it may look beautiful but it is not functional.

That brings us to html email signatures. This is a combination of text and graphics. This is a good option for a signature that is visually appealing and functional.

In an html email signature the main culprit for when things break is graphics.  Other culprits are hyperlinks and text that wraps badly. The breakdown is especially noticeable when you receive a reply email from someone and your beautiful logo and social media icons have been replaced with something like <img001.gif>.


Email signature with images removed

Play it safe by keeping the number of graphics in the signature to a minimum – this includes the little icons for social media.  It is much better to use text links.

Here is an example of an email signature that relies less on graphics, and more on functional, practical and always visible text links.

Email signature using text links as opposed to images

Email signature using text links as opposed to images



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