A signature file is a small text file that is attached to the end of an e-mail. It contains a signature and other information, such as a phone number or web site address. Using one saves time and energy since you can set it to be attached every time you send an e-mail, and you don’t have to repeatedly type in the same information.
Most e-mail programs and services allow the creation of a signature file as part of the program or application. Many also let you add a file that was created using a word processing program. Typically, the file can be added by going to the “Options” section of the e-mail program.
The contents of a signature file are limitless. It can contain text, web links, and even photos or art work. Typically, it will contain a signature in addition to contact information, such as a phone or fax number, or the link to a website. Many business users also add their company logo. Often, people who use a signature file in their personal e-mail also choose to include a favorite quote or saying that either defines their beliefs or inspires them.
Although there are many options when using a signature file, it is usually recommended to follow certain protocols when created for business use. Keeping it professional without being overly informal is usually the key point to remember. For instance, when using a signature file in a business e-mail, it is best if you leave out a personal quote. Also, it is recommended to leave space between the last sentence of your message and the signature part of the file. This keeps it clean and neat and easily highlights the contact information.
One of the main advantages in having a signature file is that most e-mail applications allow more than one file to be used. This comes in handy, especially for business use, as you can cater the file for different clients or at different stages of the business. Once there is an established relationship with a client, a signature that is slightly less formal might look better. For people sending e-mails from a private account, changing the file can be handy to differentiate between friends, family, and less personal contacts.
Although the most common use for a signature file is for e-mail, it can also be used with other applications. Some instant messaging (IM) services allow one to be added, as well as some Usenet groups. It is also commonly seen in chat forums as well.