Email Signatures… 5 Lines or Less!

I really think that Microsoft needs to include a new “feature” in Outlook which would restrict email signature to at most 5 lines of text. You really do not need more than that to list your name, job title, company and phone numbers. Some people go totally overboard with these things. Recently I found this gem in my inbox which managed to hit just about every single point on my do-not email signature list. Names and any other identifying information was changed to protect the stupids:

John Smith
Look at My Awesome Job Title Here

Company Name
~”Company Motto”~
[company logo image]
1234 Some Street
Some Stupid Town, NJ 00001

Contact Information:
****************************
Office Phone: (999) 999-9999 x1234
Cell Phone: (999) 999-999
Fax (999) 999-9999
Email: jsmith@companyname.com
****************************
****************************
_____________________________________________________________
##############################################
##############################################

This message originated from the Internet. Its originator may or
may not be who they claim to be and the information contained in
the message and any attachments may or may not be accurate.
##############################################
##############################################
_____________________________________________________________
##############################################

This E-mail is confidential. It may also be legally privileged. If
you are not the addressee you may not copy, forward, disclose or
use any part of it. If you have received this message in error,
please delete it and all copies from your system and notify the
sender immediately by return E-mail.
##############################################
_____________________________________________________________
##############################################

Internet communications cannot be guaranteed to be timely, secure,
error or virus-free. The sender does not accept liability for any
errors or omissions.
##############################################
______________________________________________________________
SAVE PAPER – THINK BEFORE YOU PRINT!

Keep in mind this was all done in dark blue 18 point font. The image logo is huge and weighs in at more than 1MB making the email seem much bigger than it really is each time. The legal notice and all the ASCII art around it is actually bolded for no god damned reason!

I’m going to ignore the fact that the legalese is there because this guy wanted it. I understand when people are forced to include these pointless things in their email by pointy haired individuals in power. I however know for a fact that this guy’s company had no explicit policy regarding legal disclaimers in the email. You can probably see that his disclaimer is generic – he probably found it somewhere on the internet and quickly pasted it into his email signature field because it looked empty. Sigh.. I seriously think there is some competition going on out in the business world to have the longest, most retarded signature. There are probably cash prizes, and the winner receives the award during a formal function sponsored by all the major corporations. They probably televise it too on like E! or some other bullshit channel like that – I just don’t know about it because you couldn’t pay me to tune into these networks.

Let’s get back to the signature at hand though. IMHO, The last line is the best. Bold, humongous heading that overshadows everything else in the email. Can you detect a hit of self-referential irony here? As in: think before you print this email, because my signature is like 3 pages on its own. Oh could it be? Could it be that behind that facade of stupidity there is a clever little mind, peeking out at you and saying “See what I did there?” Yes I see my friend, and I find it hilarious! I find your satire quite amusing!

Anyways, I think I offended the guy when I acknowledged his subtle yet clever joke. He explained to me that he just wanted to remind people to conserve paper because of the trees, and not self referent… Whatever I said, which was stupid anyway. When, oh when will I learn not to assume people are intelligent.

You may think I exaggerate a little bit here. I do in a way. This whole blog is about exaggerating things to a certain extent. I do it for the comical effect, and sometimes for the proverbial “shits and giggles”. If you think about it the signature is not all that horrible on it’s own, right? I mean you can clearly see where the email starts and when it ends and you don’t have to scroll down and read the whole thing each time. Unless of course you have been CC’d on a long top-posted email conversation between Mr. John Smith and Ms. I Also Like Long Signatures and the topmost email says simply “Luke, can you please take care of this matter?”

Sure thing pal. As soon as I figure out what the matter is, because apparently it is hidden somewhere inside this sea of stars, octothropes, images and colors. And I’m the lucky guy who has to scroll through 20+ pages of one line email replies followed by 5 pages of signatures. Wheee!

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12 Responses to Email Signatures… 5 Lines or Less!

  1. Tino GERMANY Mozilla Firefox Linux says:

    Is it just me, or is the amount of legalize that we are exposed to diverging? I mean, when did it become reasonable that I should accept a one page contract to read an email, or 10 pages to play a computer game or use a website?

    Maybe some regulation is needed. Something like the length of a contract has to reasonably relate to the relevance of the product/service. Especially, stating term after term that are already handled by standard contract law should be grounds for invalidating the whole contract. The legal theory should be based on that one should not be allowed to hide the clauses that differs from standard law in a forest of obvious clauses.

    As it stands now, there really is no reason for a legal department to keep down the legalize. Rather, including surplus terms makes the legal department look like they do important and difficult work.

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  2. ths GERMANY Mozilla Firefox Windows Terminalist says:

    Since 2007 Germany has a law about business email requiring lots of signature stuff. I am required to include the boss’s name, the registered company number, all members of the board, full address, phone and don’t ask me what else.
    So don’t mock about “5 lines ought to be enough for everybody”. It’s not — at least in Germany.

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  3. Luke Maciak UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Ubuntu Linux Terminalist says:

    @ths: Oh wow. I did not realize that. US has no such legislation, and my company doesn’t currently do any business within Germany so I had no idea.

    Interesting. But as I said in the post – if you are required to do this kind of stuff by law (or by a pointy haired boss) then it’s fine. It’s just that I knew for a fact that this guy was not required to do this. Hell, there are some people within my company that attach these long things despite the fact we have no policy and/or directive from above to do it.

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  4. jambarama UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Ubuntu Linux Terminalist says:

    Yeah long sigs irritate me too – especially the legalese ones with no legal weight. E.g.

    This E-mail and any attachments are confidential and may be protected by legal privilege. If you are not the intended recipient, be aware that any disclosure, copying, distribution, or use of this E-mail or any attachment is prohibited. If you have received this E-mail in error, please notify us immediately by returning it to the sender and delete this copy from your system. Thank you.

    Sounds nice and all, but anyone with a semester worth of law knows this doesn’t even have the scent of a contract. It isn’t a contract for a hundred reasons – there is no consideration, no acceptance, no offer – and there’s no other law I know of requiring you to honor it. So what does it do? Nothing. It is supposed to sound scary to people who don’t know any better. I tell you what. If you send me something in error, and I don’t like you, or what you said – I’m posting it on the internets. If you’re nice I’ll redact your name & email.

    Anyway, as irritating as I find this crap, it is about 10th on my list of email pet peeves, behind everything from using html & embedding huge images, to using comic sans & misspelling things on purpose (e.g. wot? i want u 2 get teh book”). Most of which you’ve covered on this blog.

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  5. Ian Clifton UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Ubuntu Linux says:

    Just one question: Do the giant animated gifs count as part of the five line limit?

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  6. Henning GERMANY Mozilla Firefox Ubuntu Linux says:

    @ths: really? what law is that exactly? Living in germany but never heard that – but it may be a GmbH (limited liability company, for the others) law…

    Apart from that:; 5 lines, haha, it used to be correct netiquette to have signatures of max 3 Lines – no 10 years ago… but also back then, some companies had thes stupid “if youre not the person who should get this mail, pleas forget it’s contents” nonsense

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  7. Dax UNITED STATES Opera Windows says:

    Long signatures are ok by me if they contain pertinent information. A good example is what ths says about required information by law. My signature at work is 4 lines, name, title, company name, company phone. I can probably shrink it down to 3 if I wanted to.

    What really pisses me off is the huge fonts and/or embedded HTML. We have several people here who have big bright text, hyperlinks, and images in their signatures.

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  8. ths GERMANY Mozilla Firefox Windows Terminalist says:

    @Henning: Wikipedia answers this. I never cared exactly for the exact information, I just included the stuff from a company intranet webpage when having been advised to do so.

    wikipedia link

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  9. ths GERMANY Mozilla Firefox Windows Terminalist says:

    sorry, the wikipedia link appears broken due to me pasting german umlaut characters. anyway, goto de.wikipedia.org and search for signature, there’s a link to business email signatures.

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  10. Luke Maciak UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Windows Terminalist says:

    @ths: I fixed it! The link works now. :)

    Reply  |  Quote
  11. Jake UNITED STATES Epiphany Linux says:

    Wow, that is completly over the top. But here’s something else I’ve seen:

    Composing a simple signature in Word, saving it as HTML, and then adding that to your email (you can do it in Thunderbird at least). For just one line Word adds hundreds (or thousands it seems) of comments and other misc. junk to the HTML file. Whlie you don’t see it all, I’m sure it’s just as long.

    And then there are people who have Outlook set to compose mail with Word, which is just as bad.

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  12. vacri AUSTRALIA Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    The legalese always makes me laugh. There is no implied consent on my behalf – someone has just sent me an email telling me how I should behave. Similarly, why should I have to perform work if someone has sent it to me in error – it’s not my problem, so why should I filter it out and send a reply? Sure, it’s good manners, but it’s not something I legally have to do.

    Another fun thing is to demand hardcopies. “So, Bob, I read the last stanza of your email disclaimer. It said you’re not liable for damages due to omissions. If you want my business, send me a hardcopy where you guarantee the quote is full and final”. Amazing how many people arc up over the hardcopy / email signature thing. Well, in truth, I’ve only done it once, but I had a 100% failure percentage :)

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