Free Traffic-Your Signature File
Do's and Don'ts, the Signature File!
Copyright ©, Neil Shearing.
Firstly, what is a signature file?
Quite simply a signature file, as it's name implies, is a file which is appended to all of your emails and identifies you, your website address, phone or fax number etc. It is possible that your signature file, if used correctly, could be your 'best secret weapon' for Internet Success!
According to 'netiquette' a signature file (or sig file) should be six lines long and roughly 60 characters wide. In this space you should attempt to 'advertise' what it is you do and how people can reach you. Take a look at the signature file I use:
* Scamfreezone.com: Search Over 250 Genuine Bizops! *
* Free Newsletter, Search Engine, Links to Resources *
* Email: email@example.com *
* Fax/Phone: (UK) 01382 456199 *
OK, so strictly speaking my sig file is nine lines, but I don't count the "Best Regards" and "Neil Shearing" lines because they're not actually part of the 'boxed' area, I just get tired of writing them all the time! If you don't count these two lines my sig file is 7 lines by 55 characters. The number of characters is important because 60 is the maximum number of characters you can be sure of using without seeing your sig file "wrap" from one line to the beginning of the next which is a very ugly and unprofessional representation of you and your company! Seven lines is usually the allowable limit to be included in your message when you post to a discussion group, any longer and it's likely to be cut down to seven lines, or cut altogether, so stick to 7 x 60 maximum.
Where is a sig file used?
Simply, every time you send an email or post to a newsgroup (covered in the preceding article, "Working the Newsgroups"). A signature file is a method of discretely advertising yourself and your website which is accepted across the Internet. Setting up a sig file is easy. There should be an ability in your email package to select a file to use as your signature in all outgoing messages. What you need to do is write your sig file as a plain text document (Notepad, Word or Simpletext) and save it somewhere on your hard drive, then simply select the file while in your email software program. It is usually a wise move to check how your signature looks by sending yourself a blank email and noting how it arrives in your inbox. You can always change the sig file if you're not happy with the way it looks. Don't forget, if you post to Newsgroups from an online source such as Dejanews, you should find your sig file on your hard drive and copy + paste it into your newsgroup post before you send it, otherwise it won't be added because you are not using your email software.
It's important that, having taken the time to write an impressive sig file, you make sure people see it. An easy way to do this is to highlight is by using dense characters to surround the text. Some of the favourite dense-characters are:
* @ # = n N m M
The more ink used per character, the more dense it is and the more your signature file will stand out.
That's just about it for the 'Do's', but what about the Don'ts'? Many people think that it's very impressive to draw happy faces or rocket ships with the text characters of their sig file. I'm sure you've seen them...think back, when was the last time you saw one which actually appeared as the sender wanted it to be seen? It is terribly difficult to get text to align the same in every email reader used today, and generally is not worth the effort. Especially in business, not many customers are impressed if you can draw a rocket ship in your sig file, even if it comes out perfectly. The best choice, and most professional looking, is to stick to an enhanced border around your personal contact information.
Another problem arises when people have too much information in their sign file. They usually have 20 different web pages they want you to visit, so they list them one per line and the sig file stretches beyond 20 lines! It usually indicates a lack of focus...the first thing I ask myself is 'why do they need 20 websites?' and if I have to make a decision over which one to visit, I'm probably not going to bother, so I won't visit any. It's much more sensible to list one website and then link to your other sites from the 'central' one.
Summary: A sig file is a short text file added to the bottom of your outgoing emails. Usually seven lines by 60 characters, it contains your contact information much like a business card. Sig files are a universally accepted way to advertise your website or autoresponder. Do highlight your sig file with a dense character border. Don't go overboard with excess lines or 'text art'!
This article was written by Neil Shearing, webmaster at
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