It’s a common occurrence: you have an email from a colleague open and want to give them a call to discuss something, only to find that their number is not listed in their email signature–if they have one at all. We can take a cue from the story of Goldilocks and the three bears for a good rule of thumb for email signatures.
1. Not too short. The ultimate expression of too short, is no email signature. Other signatures lack pertinent information such as a phone number. Think through the information that would be most helpful for your recipients to reference.
2. Not too long. While you shouldn’t omit information that recipients might need, you also shouldn’t load your signature down with all your vital statistics. Do you have the type of job that necessitates being reachable my mobile phone as well as office line? If not, consider leaving it out. How often do you receive faxes? If it’s only a few times a year, don’t include that in your signature. Individuals don’t want to sift through a hoard of details to find what they need.
3. Just right. A good email signature includes the information that people most need to reference at a glance. At minimum: title, phone number, website. Other elements, such as address and fax, will vary by position. List in the order if most logical or useful. If folks are calling you most frequently, your number shouldn’t be buried at the bottom. Think about presentation as well. Making your signature a riot of colors isn’t necessary (or advisable), but using things like character dividers (such as |, /, or parenthesis) or bolding can help recipients quickly navigate the information to what they need.