CyberNotes
Tutorial Thursday




Emails are no doubt the primary means of communication for many people. It lets people interact with each other at their own pace which particularly comes in handy when the correspondent is located halfway around the world in the opposite timezone. However, with all of the emails that I see, one thing that I don’t see often is a nice signature.

–Online Generators–

Gmail For starters, there are a lot of signature generators out there for people who use Gmail, Yahoo Mail, Hotmail, and AOL. I particularly like this site which generated the three different logos to choose from that you see to the right. By using a signature like that it will really make people remember you and your email address. It is also particularly useful for anyone posting in forums or commenting on websites because the spam bot would not be able to recognize the email address.

–Feedburner’s Headline Animator–

I highly recommend that you use Feedburner’s Headline Animator if you have a website and use them to manage your RSS feed. I have been using it for several months and receive comments and questions all the time regarding it. Feedburner has two different default themes available if you decide not to create your own. I prefer the “Email” theme because it has a solid white background and looks more formal than the other one.

Feedburner Headline Animator

After you decide on all of the options that you want, Feedburner will generate an image that you can use wherever you please. I recently created a custom design that I use in forums and in emails. Here is a live version of what my headline animator is like:

CyberNet Signature

Note: If you decide to customize your Feedburner Headline Animator then as you can see in my version I removed the “title” so that it doesn’t show up. They don’t have a checkbox for which items you want to appear and which ones you don’t so if you don’t want it to show up just set the width to “0”.


–Plaxo–

Hey, great signatures aren’t just for people with websites. I think some of these web-based email services, like Gmail, should include helpful tools for people to create signatures. In fact, Gmail doesn’t even let you create a Rich Text signature and makes you suffer with plain text. I’ll get into some instructions later on which will explain inserting signatures into different programs.

Plaxo is a whole contact management site and their toolbar for Outlook/Outlook Express will let you create custom signatures that look nice. Here is an example of one that they created:

Plaxo

As you can see it looks pretty nice and a long time ago I used Plaxo. It was a useful service but I got lazy and never managed to keep it up-to-date so I stopped using it. If you’re looking to create a nice signature as fast as possible then you might find Plaxo to be a good solution. 

–Word Processor–

Lastly, you can make your own that looks nice just by using a word processor. It just takes some knowledge of tables and then look through some emails that you have received from people who have signatures that you like. Here are the two most common layouts that I see on a daily basis in some form or another (download the DOC file here):

My Signatures

Those are hardly anything special and took me just a few minutes to create each one. For the first one, I did a search in Google Images and restricted it to displaying only “Small Images” which prevented me from having to resize it. Doing your own custom image in a signature may not be the best thing because many people have images disabled by default when receiving new mail. That means most people will only see a blank spot there until they approve you to show images. Not only that but if you using a Web-based email system you’ll have to find someone to host the image…so I recommend sticking to a purely text signature like the second option. The second option also has a nice place for quotes underneath and we all know how many people love to include their favorite quotes!

–Using The Signatures–

To setup a signature it is best if you use an email client like Thunderbird, Outlook Express, or Outlook. Of those three programs Outlook is the only one that doesn’t require you to have an HTML file if you want to use a Rich Text signature. To get the file that you need from the word processor just save the file as an HTML file format (images are not recommended for those people doing this). This option can be found when your doing a Save As:

Email Signatures

Now we know that Microsoft Word doesn’t generate the prettiest HTML code in the world but the viewable result for the second signature looks good. After you have the HTML file ready you can add it by following these directions:

Web-based email services are a little different and Gmail is especially a pain. Here are some tutorials on HTML signatures in some of the more popular services:

–Summary–

That’s about all of the knowledge that I have about creating signatures. If you know of any great sites to create a professional looking signature I would sure love to hear about it. I looked all over and I couldn’t find anything that would create a signature that was as nice as the Plaxo one.