Friday Rant - Signature Lines

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Friday Rant - Signature Lines

Postby David Taylor » Fri Nov 30, 2012 10:10 am

Hello Forum,

This may be a bit off topic, but I feel the need to rant today.

What on earth are some people thinking with the signature lines in their E-mails? There are a few things in particular that bug me. Hear me out:

Quotes - I have no problem with including quotes in your signature. In fact, a nice line from Benjamin Franklin or Albert Einstein never hurt anyone. I do insist, however, that you avoid the following:

- Quoting Yourself - I'm sure you have some very worthwhile, interesting things to say, but this is not the place to say it. You just end up looking pretentious and/or foolish.

- Quoting Out of Context - That quote may sound nice as a one-liner, but if you put it back into the original context and it means something entirely different... well, that's a whole other story. Someone somewhere will know the line in its original context - hopefully it's not a potential employer.

- Quoting Religious or Political Figures - This is a no brainer, and yet it still pops up every so often.

- Inappropriate Quotes - There's nothing wrong with a life-affirming motto or quote... as long as it follows the norms of society. I realize you're expressing your individuality, but when your quote is a little out there it won't necessarily scream "fit" to potential employers or colleagues.

Closing Lines in the Signature - This may just be me (feel free to say so if it is), but when it's obvious that someone has their closing line ("Sincerely, Dave" or "Thank you" or simply "-Dave") already written in their signature, it takes something away from the personal nature of the message. It's almost akin to stamping your name at the end of a hand-written letter, rather than taking 3 seconds to write your signature. Granted, if you're careful, it's not always obvious. But if your signature is in a different font, color, etc., it's tell-tale. Even with the increasing popularity of smartphones and tablets, where typing can be a little bit more of a pain, it still reads poorly in my mind. Maybe I'm just old fashioned.

Images and Backgrounds - An institutional logo can look professional, but you may want to rethink any more than that. An image in your signature that says "Thank you" drawn on a bed of roses (or anything that includes a smiley face for that matter) is not cool. Speaking of images, please never include a background image on your E-mails. Oh, your E-mail looks like it's written on loose-leaf paper - that's cute, I guess, but it's not very professional. Plus, when I reply to the message and am forced to write on that same background... ugh.

/end rant

Anything that bothers you?
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David Taylor
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Postby Jerry B. » Fri Nov 30, 2012 11:28 am

I'm not sure if I'm wrong on this one and emoticons have become acceptable, but even though I grew up in the era of easy computer availability they still seem unprofessional to me. I began encountering them as a TA in graduate school and along with other, much worse, email contents usually led to me giving my sections a short lecture on professionalism. I didn't do this to be a jerk or act aloof. I honestly thought it would be in their best interest to hear this now rather than later. What was even more surprising is students include these in emails to professors. That said, the reason I'm not sure if I'm wrong on this is even post-graduate school I see these things turning up in professional emails. What do other people think about this?
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Re: Friday Rant - Signature Lines

Postby F.E. » Fri Nov 30, 2012 12:29 pm

Hello Dave,

I must admit that I am laughing at the content of your post because I thought I was the only one that iwas annoyed by the addition of an odd quote at the end of an e-mail message. I go even further and say that any quote, regardless of the author, seems a little odd to include in an e-mail (I guess between friends it is okay, but in a professional setting?).

I would like to add one to your list; e-mails without a salutation. There's nothing is like receiving an e-mail without a salutation. It seems so impersonal to me and I often get annoyed when receiving them. But maybe I am a bit old fashioned too.
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Re: Friday Rant - Signature Lines

Postby E. Johnson » Fri Nov 30, 2012 12:59 pm

And hey, while we're on it.
You don't need to attach your signature line to internal correspondence.
I know who you are if I work with you.
I don't need a "Dear E" on top of each but it does help if people are not overly friendly or even worse, hostile, in their e-mails. Always better to be diplomatic than nasty on a communication form that can be easily forwarded or shown to anyone.
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Re: Friday Rant - Signature Lines

Postby Chris » Fri Nov 30, 2012 2:28 pm

I'm with F.E., I think that including a quote with your signature line is cheesy. There are two people I regularly correspond with that have this and, although I don't like either of them less for it, I do groan inwardly a little every time I get one.

However, I also dislike getting professional emails from people WITHOUT a signature line. Sometimes, I'll get an email and then want to follow up with a phone call. If there's a contact number in the signature line, it's easy peasy. If I have to look up their number I get a bit annoyed.
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Re: Friday Rant - Signature Lines

Postby P. Lues » Fri Nov 30, 2012 11:08 pm

I would like to add one to your list; e-mails without a salutation. There's nothing is like receiving an e-mail without a salutation. It seems so impersonal to me and I often get annoyed when receiving them. But maybe I am a bit old fashioned too.

I think it's acceptable if there are a string of correspondence on the same topic to not include a salutation or a closing line. But it's definitely not acceptable in the first email.
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Re: Friday Rant - Signature Lines

Postby Rick Willis » Sat Dec 01, 2012 10:25 am

A faculty member in my department has a 30 line signature. It includes complete contact information for two of his positions, his lab manager, and his exacting instructions on how to format email addressed to him, naming conventions for attached files, etc.
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Re: Friday Rant - Signature Lines

Postby David Taylor » Mon Dec 03, 2012 9:47 am

I'm glad I'm not the only one with these little pet peeves! Thanks for the follow ups.

E. Johnson -

I actually prefer receiving messages with signature lines externally and internally. Unless it's someone familiar, it helps to have the contact info and credentials on hand (the latter especially).

My signature line is automatically added to every E-mail chain that I begin, but no replies, etc. I never thought that it would bug anyone, but I see where you're coming from.

J.B.2 -

I think folks need to be very careful with emoticons (not to mention 'lols' and whatnot). I'd avoid using them among professional contacts altogether. Better safe than sorry.

F.E. -

Agreed! It bugs me to see no salutation if it's an opening E-mail from anyone who is not interacting with me on a daily basis. This generally reads as someone being curt or short.
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