Signature Files:
Still the best free advertising available

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I wrote this article for Circle, the monthly publication of the ADHD Coaches Organization in 2006… almost 10 years ago! I’ve updated the article a bit, but none of the basic information has changed! And yet, I regularly get email from people who want to be in contact with me that does not include even simple contact information at the end.

Signature Files: Better than business cards

Thirty years ago when I got my first business cards for my first business, I thought it was the best $20 I ever spent. It made me feel professional and assured that whoever got my card had all the pertinent information about me and what I was selling.

That’s still true, but now even more important is your signature at the end of your email.

It’s advertising that is allowed by all but the strictest of email groups or message boards. It often remains attached to your emails—even when they are passed further—and that’s marketing!

The signature file, also called a sig file, comes after your closing on every email even the ones you forward on.

It should contain at least

  • your full name with appropriate credentials
  • your phone number
  • your business name
  • your web site address (This is particularly important if your email address is not! I’m not sure why a business person would use any address that is NOT But I guess a lot of people think that AOL or GMAIL need your free advertising.)
  • I also include my street address and my email address—just in case the body of my email is detached from the header (the top part of an email that includes the to/from info).

Your sig file should NOT include your whole resume!

It should not be more than about seven to ten lines long.

I’ve seen emails with 40 lines of signature… including links! CRAZY for sure. Do you really think anybody is going to look at that stuff? Much less read it? If you do, I have a bridge you might be interested in.

And you know what, email with too many links regularly gets called spam by email managers. It’s particularly a problem if you post in YahooGroups.

Don’t be tempted to leave out the phone number.

In a 2005 column (updated in 2014) on the website, a website for journalists, one of the top ten beefs was emailed press releases with no contact phone numbers. You sure don’t want to mess up a contact with the press.

You also don’t want to delay prospective client who just prefers real conversation.

And if you want me to call you, don’t presume I can find your number in the scraps of paper on MY desk!

More than one sig file

Store more than one sig file in your mail manager (Outlook, Gmail, AOL or what ever program you use to view your mail). I have several:

  • A standard default one that includes everything I mentioned above
  • One each that refers my role as webmaster for several different organizations. They might include links to schedules and/or directions and appropriate disclaimers

I can choose to use none. But that must be a conscious decision.

I’m sure you’ve seen emails with standard disclaimers like:

  • If this wasn’t for you, eat it and don’t tell anyone you saw it … or
  • This is confidential, don’t show it to anybody

But recently I saw this extra line at the end of an email from SXSW:

This email is: [ ] bloggable [x] ask first [ ] private

Seems like a really good idea!

PS: If you think you might be too big or too busy to be bothered with a sig file

Check out the website of the Fayette County Public Schools in Lexington, KY. They have a great technology site.

You’ll find simple instructions of how they show kids in grade K-12 to set up sig files using Outlook. Their list of what should be included is a bit shorter than mine, but not much. And their information is for kids!

Do you have other things about signature files that bug you? Let me know about it in the comments below.

Photo credit: cohdra from

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