6

I recently noticed that the signature block is usually dropped after the first message sent by anyone in an email correspondence.

Is this standard convention? Is it safer to always include a sign-off, or does this risk being too formal?

  • 3
    Personally, I don't think it matters one way or the other – さりげない告白 Jan 16 at 2:09
  • @さ Am I overthinking my emails? – Wensen Zhang Jan 16 at 2:15
  • 3
    Yes, drop the signature block when you can. It's overly formal and just clutters the thread with extra noise. Just use your name, nickname, or first name, to sign off (in the US, we use first names usually, but that part depends on your culture). That being said, if you're on gmail, it doesn't really matter. Gmail obfuscates repeating signature blocks when it can. I assume other email clients may do the same. – Stephan Branczyk Jan 16 at 2:47
  • 1
    Yes. Its generally acceptable to drop the signature after the first email. In fact, there are a variety of email signature generation services that provide that as a feature. – Shadowzee Jan 16 at 2:48
  • 1
    Typically, there are options in email clients to use different (even blank) signatures for replies/forwards or new emails. Sometimes, your signature is not directly in your control (some corporate IT/email solutions automatically append to outgoing mail for consistency) - but the software usual has these rules available (and also allow for different signatures for internal mail, too). You might need to talk to your IT or manager if you're not in control of your signature. – HorusKol Jan 16 at 6:09
4

I would definitely suggest dropping them after the first email from a given participant. In fact, many email clients and even some mail servers have automatic features to do just that.

Email chains can get rather long, regardless of whether they are "formal" or not. Once you have a signature in the thread their job is done. After that they are noisy and clutter up the thread with redundant and mostly uninformative content. This is especially true for signatures with photos and large, fancy fonts.

A smaller signature is usually sufficient once things are going. Example:

Sam Smith, Company, Site Operations Coordinator

There are cases where I would make an exception: when you are requesting to be contacted directly, or a response may be needed through channels other than email. In those sorts of situations I would add the signature back in, manually if necessary.

3

Yes, it is perfectly acceptable to drop the longer signature and use a shortened version to sign off. Something like:

--
Haridas Pal
Engineer, Company

That -- I use is to indicate to the compatible email server / clients to identify that the remaining part is a signature, so if there is a capability to hide the signature part (even the shortened one) by default, it gets hidden.

2

The use and contents of a signature block has lately been directed by corporate policy. The company I work for has specified that the signature block appear in both new messages and replies. They have dictated the information they want us to include in our signature block.

Other than corporate policy there is no standard. Some never include a signature block, others only on new messages, and others on every message.

My preference has developed of time to use as compact a block that meets the corporate policy, and include it on all messages. It is frustrating when you are added in the middle of the chain and a key person early in the chain didn't include their email/phone in a signature block because their message was a reply.

0

Does this risk being too formal?

The risk isn't so much that you'll come across as too formal. Using reasonable formality is generally always the safer bet when communicating in the workplace.

The risk is that this is unreasonable formality. The formality in itself isn't the problem - it's that you're using it inappropriately and excessively, and it's getting in the way of communication.

This is about email, but the lesson to take from this is broader: the somewhat arbitrary protocols of formality are fine in measure. Using them shows professionalism, mutual respect, and manners. But if you start letting them get in the way of getting work done, it flips, and it's not a good look at all. It comes off unprofessional, inefficient, perhaps even incompetent if taken to extremes.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.