Scott Hanselman

Email Signature Etiquette with Outlook 2007 - Appropriate Flair

April 10, '07 Comments [9] Posted in Musings
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A while back we had a nice discussion about Email Signature Netiquette. How much flair was too much?

I talked about creating more dynamic and customized signatures in Outlook 2007...

Getting HTML (or FeedBurner) Dynamic Email Signatures in Outlook 2007

My signature is generated by FeedBurner, using their Headline Animator feature (that I love).

<a href="http://feeds.feedburner.com/ScottHanselman">
<img border="0" alt="Scott Hanselman's Blog"
src="http://feeds.feedburner.com/ScottHanselman.gif">
</a>

This works great, except in Outlook 2007, which no longer lets you edit your email signatures directly in HTML in their UI. Plus, because there's three kinds of email in Outlook, text, RTF, and HTML, they autogenerate all three formats for you and put the files deep in the bowels in:

C:\Documents and Settings\Scott\Application Data\Microsoft\Signatures\

I don't use txt or rtf-based email if I can avoid it, so I just open the named html file in that folder and edit the part in their auto generated section '<div class="Section1">' like this:

<div class=Section1>
<p class=MsoAutoSig>Scott Hanselman<o:p></o:p></p>
<p class=MsoAutoSig>Chief Architect - Corillian Corporation<o:p></o:p></p>
<p class=MsoAutoSig>
<a href="http://feeds.feedburner.com/ScottHanselman">
<img src="http://feeds.feedburner.com/ScottHanselman.gif"
style="border:0" alt="Scott Hanselman's Blog"/></a>
</p>
</div>

I'll get a nice signature every time I start a message, and I can, of course, configure Outlook to include this signature on new emails and another, smaller one, on replies.

Making it Consistent

Barry Dorrans reminded me of the old USENET Standard for Signatures:

It's interesting to note you forget the "standard" signature prefix, two hyphens, a space and a newline which the better email clients (read "Not outlook") use to strip a signature when you hit reply. And of course there's the old usenet standard of no more than 4 lines (unless you're Biff). See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Signature_block for details

And this whole thing got me thinking about which kinds of Signatures I would need. I came up with three.

First Message

This is my standard signature when it's the First Message in a thread. It includes the standard double hyphen, my Name, Title and Company, and currently an animated gif with my picture and my last few blog posts. As a public-facing person at my company with a largely work-appropriate blog, this is reasonable for me.

The picture, while it might seem self-serving, in my opinion makes work and personal email more personal. Folks like those we're currently merging with know my face before they meet me. I've started to notice others doing the same thing, especially in MSN Messenger.

--
Scott Hanselman - Chief Architect - Corillian Corporation

Scott Hanselman's Blog

All Replies

For replies, the picture is removed, and the standard sig is just two lines via the USENET de-facto standard.

--
Scott Hanselman - Chief Architect - Corillian Corporation

On my Blackberry the signature looks like

--
Scott Hanselman - Chief Architect - Corillian Corporation from my BlackBerry

...so folks know I'm on a mobile device and realize that I won't be able to see some embedded rich content.

Replies including Free/Busy Information

This FreeBusy signature is one I use optionally when folks are scheduling meetings or helping schedule meetings across companies.

--
Scott Hanselman - Chief Architect - Corillian Corporation
NOTE: My Calendar is at (small private URL here)

The "small private URL" is a redirect from my site to the Microsoft Office Free/Busy Service that lets folks see my availability for meetings.

 

You can easily publish just your Free/Busy information to any WebDAV server or to Office Free/Busy. Consumers, either publicly or invited, can subscribe to your ICS calendar (see my recent podcast on this subject) or just view the calendar and schedule appropriately.

The signatures are easily interchangeable using the new Signature dropdown in the Outlook New Message Ribbon. Signatures are actually swapped out rather than appended; that's a very nice usability touch by the Office team.

All of these things combined means considerably fewer headaches for me in my everyday Outlook life.

About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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Wednesday, April 11, 2007 2:31:02 PM UTC
Scott .. you're a godsend!
Wednesday, April 11, 2007 5:38:18 PM UTC
With the Publish to Office Online, do you make it private or leave it public?
Wayne Arthurton
Wednesday, April 11, 2007 6:05:19 PM UTC
I make it public so folks don't have to have a Passport, but I don't make it searchable. They need to know the URL, and I only publish Free/Busy, not appointment details.
Wednesday, April 11, 2007 8:03:07 PM UTC
I cannot figure out how to make it public non-searchable. Am I missing something easy?
Wayne Arthurton
Wednesday, April 11, 2007 8:07:23 PM UTC
Hm...can you search and find mine?
Wednesday, April 11, 2007 8:16:17 PM UTC
When I use the Search Online Calendars function in Outlook it brings me to this page:

http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/outlook/

It doesn't look like there is a way to search the calendars yet. At least if you aren't subscribed to Office Online (which I'm not so I don't know)
Wayne Arthurton
Wednesday, May 09, 2007 9:15:16 AM UTC
Will this image not be blocked by 90% of email clients? Gmail for example, by default blocks inline images referenced from external sites because its a common method of confirming a live SPAMmable email address - outlook does the same.

I ask you only because I have an HTML sig with a company logo attached direct to the mail, which seems to work in most cases - however I have problems with the empty placeholder issue (thought by Microsoft to be limited to outlook 2002 by their knowledge base, but not so) with new, and replied messages.

outlook 2003 btw.

Jon Payne
Wednesday, May 16, 2007 10:23:55 PM UTC
A quick question..Whenever I reply to an email, my signature is added, but the link in the signature appears just as text and not a hyperlink. BTW, I don't use feedburner or freebusy, just the default outlook signature.
Monday, May 21, 2007 10:50:49 PM UTC
Hi Scott Hanselman
I am trying to build a professional signiture and I love your one!"http://feeds.feedburner.com/ScottHanselman.gif"
Any tutorials? Sizes? Format? Only .gif? I was trying to do with .swf! Which one is the best?
Thanks
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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed herein are my own personal opinions and do not represent my employer's view in any way.