Nov 6, 2009

Email signature etiquette

(Fragment of article by Shelly Palmer)

Almost every email program lets you automatically add a signature to the emails you send. I'm sure you seen all kinds of interesting ones: flowery ones, very dense ones, and the horrifying and aesthetically offensive ones. What should yours look like? Here are a few simple guidelines:

First, every single email you send should have a signature. It should be plain text, so that it will look the same no matter what device or software is used to read it. When I say plain text, I mean just type (for geeks, ASCII text), no pictures, no logos, no html code, nothing but text.

Why? More than half the corporate world uses BlackBerrys to communicate. Depending on the vintage, they handle HTML over a wide range from, very poorly to marginally poorly.

The operating word here is "poorly," so why set up a signature that's guaranteed to torture a large number of corporate users. Overly ornate signatures will produce highly unexpected, and possibly unreadable, results on a BlackBerry.

This is also true for the body copy of the email. Tabs, bullets, any kind of alignment is all thrown out the window and HTML looks like jumbled computer code when it is displayed as text.

Another, and possibly more important, reason to use plain text is the wide range of spam filters that are currently deployed. Many of these filters look at the ratio of text to graphics as a test.

If you're email is already in HTML format, a logo or a combination of logo and your picture may kick you email into the corporate trash.

Like I said, signatures should be simple, complete and be in plain text.

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