A site visitor was curious and pondered:
You claim we should create our business emails the same as if they were on our business letterhead. After my closing (Sincerely,) am I supposed to include my actual handwritten signature like I do on off-line business letterhead, before my signature file?
BTW, one of my contacts who is an artist does this and I like the way it looks. How do I accomplish this?
No, you are not supposed to include your actual signature. But I have seen folks do just that by embedding an image of their actual signature. Others create an image using a script font to give the perception of a written name.
For me, I don’t feel the need to go that far. Embedded images are added fluff that has nothing to do with your email’s message.
Business Letterhead Analogy
“Don’t do anything in an email that you wouldn’t do on your company’s letterhead” is a statement I use quite often. This analogy is to help you to maintain the same level of decorum and formality in your email that you would on your business letterhead.
Your letterhead typically provides a professional presentation and perception. You want to do the same in email which many folks consider, incorrectly when it comes to business, as informal. And while you do “sign” hard-copy letterhead, in business email typing your name will suffice.
Using an Actual Signature
To have your actual signature display would require that you embed an image (that contains the code to accomplish its display). While your email program may hide that code it is there and could cause some security concerns.
By embedding (not attaching) a graphic or any file for that matter, you risk raising ISP and network blocks and spam filters. Reason being it is common practice for those who propagate viruses to use that very same type of code in emails.
But what if I want a “signature”?
Create a graphic in .gif format. The graphic need not be any larger than 150 or so pixels in width and 75 in height. Width, of course, would be determined by the length of your name. You want to use a font size that would be consistent with your email text.
Once the graphic is created, all you have to do is insert it after your closing. In your case, Sincerely,. If I were to do this, I would create a template or custom signature so I wouldn’t have to manually insert every single time. The ability to do this depends on if your email program offers that feature.
Substance Over Style
Even though you may see others using fancy-schmancy signatures in their signature, doesn’t mean it is standard and customary. It isn’t.
You can rest assured that using plain text instead of a graphical image is the norm. And in doing so your emails stand a better chance of reaching the intended destination. All the while still maintaining a professional appearance.