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Long Email Signatures Are Dumb

Email signatures that look like this should be illegal:

Kind of bad email signature example

Same here:

Another bad example

And if your email signature resembles anything close to this… welp, it’s the chair for you buddy:

Another example

For some utterly-beyond-me reason, signatures like these are wildly common.

Here are three reasons why they are dumb:

1. Most of the content in your email signature is probably useless.

Mankind has apparently forgotten that email signatures are typically included in every single message you send.

What are the chances that every single recipient of this (fictional) guy’s messages needs all of this information?

Email signature example of what not to do
  • Email address. You just emailed me from your email address. I clearly already have this.
  • Street address. What are the chances that I need to know the physical location of your office right now?
  • Your domain name. It’s probably already in the email address. Also, I can Google your company. Maybe this is helpful in a sales or marketing role if you want to remove friction for somebody to learn about you.
  • Social profiles. Chances are, your company’s Twitter hasn’t been updated in 6 months and will add zero value to the recipient. Also, nobody wants to follow your insurance company’s Instagram.

2. Long email signatures crowd out… the email content itself.

Imagine trying to schedule lunch with any of the people above.

If you shot back 3 or 4 emails, pretty quickly you’d have the first draft to an Ayn Rand novel.

Yes, sometimes Gmail collapses email signatures so that a thread is easier to read…

But often, Gmail can’t detect the most egregious signatures and so they show up in all their glory in Every. Single. Reply.

Secondly, email apps don’t collapse signatures when you need to expand an entire thread to skim for something. The result: a totally-preventable email signature bloodbath whenever you click “expand.”

3. Email disclaimers are not legally binding.

You know that constitution-length confidentiality notice that your accountant, lawyer, etc. include in the footer of their emails?

You know, this monstrosity:

Signature with disclaimer

It would pretty much never hold up in a court of law.

Legal agreements between two parties generally require the other party to… agree.

You don’t legally owe me a million dollars if I email you “recipients of this message owe me a million dollars.”

Why would this one-sided pseudo-contract be any different?

What should email signatures look like?

Obviously, the ideal signature depends on your industry, your job function, and whatever your boss or marketing department has forced you to add.

But chances are something like this would do it…

Ava Largent
CEO
Largent Industries
largent.com

In Conclusion

If you’re not careful, you may end up with an email signature like this:

Don’t be a jerk.

Simplify your email signature down to the essentials.

Sincerely,
Stew Fortier
stewfortier.com


This post was first sent in a Stew’s Letter, a weekly-ish email for ambitious, curious people. You can join below:

3 replies on “Long Email Signatures Are Dumb”

I hate required fields. jk

I hate it when an author’s ending for a novel or play is changed. Extreme, and true example, Romeo and Juliet lived.

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