The crucial email signature etiquette rules to add an appropriate signature to your emails. How to use your email signature to build trust.

What email signature etiquette is

Email signature etiquette is the set of rules to properly make and use a signature in your emails. Such rules help us build trust with the recipient and avoid behaviors that may make us look impolite. They include:

  • How to make an appropriate email signature.
  • When to use a signature and when to avoid it.
  • The mistakes to avoid.

When you send an email, follow the signature etiquette rules to use your signature in the appropriate ways.

Etiquette rules to make and use an email signature

Email signature etiquette rules

1) How to build trust with your email signature

The email signature is meant to build trust with the recipients of your email. Its purposes are to make the recipients aware of your identity and role, build trust, and provide them with your contact information.

Keep your email signature simple. Do not overload it with information. Otherwise, the recipient may perceive you as self-important.

Include the necessary information, which is your full name and the relevant contact information that you are willing to share. Beware that emails may get forwarded. Thus, it is best not to put any information that you are not ready to share with anyone.

For professional and formal emails, it is appropriate to add your title and role to your signature. This information helps the recipients to know your role and correctly interpret your message.

Adding links to the signature is acceptable, as long as we do not overdo it. A single link to our website, company’s website, or LinkedIn bio is perfectly appropriate. More than 2 links may be too many.

At work, follow your organization’s email signature guidelines or templates.

Make sure that your email signature has no typos or other mistakes. Do not use a job role or title that is different from your official one.

Avoid sentences such as “Sent from my phone” or similar, as they do not add any value to the recipient and may be misinterpreted.

2) Adding pronouns to your email signature

Nowadays, some people add pronouns to their email signature, to signal to the recipients the pronouns and the genders they identify with. Such as “She/Her/Hers”.

It is appropriate to either include or not include pronouns in your email signature. However, when someone displays the pronouns in their email signature, you should address the person with those.

3) Always use your signature in formal emails

Proper email etiquette requires us to always use our signature in formal emails. Such as professional emails sent to a recipient outside of our organization, or an email to an institution or a somehow institutional figure like a professor or doctor.

The signature is necessary only in the first email. While it is best to avoid it in all the subsequent emails of the thread. After the first email, it is sufficient to sign with just your full name.

4) When replying, include the signature only if needed

When replying to an email, the signature is usually not needed. In most cases, the sender already knows you, your role, and how to reach you. Thus, when responding, it is appropriate to include your signature only if it provides some necessary information to the sender or other people in the email thread.

Adding your signature to an email thread once is polite, but more than once is unnecessary.

5) Use your signature sparingly with coworkers

In general, adding a signature to the email automatically makes the tone of the message more formal. Thus, it is best to use it only when it is needed.

The signature should always be present in the first email, because the recipient may forward it to another coworker that may be not familiar with you and your role.

When you reply to an email from a coworker, it is best to avoid the signature if you and the coworker are already familiar with each other. In such cases, you can sign with just your name. However, when you reply to an email with multiple recipients, some of whom you are unfamiliar with, you should add your signature to your first message.

6) Avoid email signatures in informal emails

The signature can be inappropriate and even impolite in informal emails. When writing to a friend or a coworker you are friendly with, the signature unnecessarily adds a formal note to the tone of the message. The recipients may misinterpret it and perceive you as self-important or even arrogant.

email signature etiquette mistakes

Email signature etiquette: the worst mistakes

The Rude Index identifies and ranks negative behaviors. 

A high score (8-10) means that the behavior has the potential to trigger a conflict with others. A medium score (4-7) means that the behavior risks making you look inelegant and unsophisticated. Read more about the Rude Index and its methodology here.  

Avoid the worst email signature etiquette mistakes: 

  • 7/10. Making a signature with typos or incorrect information.
  • 7/10. Making a too elaborate email signature.
  • 6/10. Not using the signature on formal emails.
  • 5/10. Using your signature more than once on email threads.