Email signatures are the bumper stickers of the internet. From the overused quotations to the sanctimonious “consider the environment before you print this email” messages, email signatures are the bane of modern communication.

Some obnoxious sign-offs are more common (and more annoying) than others. I’ve picked the worst five types, and I’m sure you’ll be able to sympathize.

The Corporate Disclaimer

Notice of Confidentiality: The information that is included or attached in this electronic transmission (E-Mail) may contain confidential and/or privileged information and is intended for only the person or entity to which it is addressed. Any unauthorized review, dissemination, disclosure, reproduction, distribution or other use of, or taking any action in reliance upon the contents of this information is prohibited. If you believe that you have received this message in error, please notify the sender immediately by reply transmission and delete the message without copying or disclosing it. Thank you.

Legal disclaimers at the end of messages are not only annoying, they’re entirely pointless. As Jack Shafer explains in a clever Slate piece, such confidentiality disclaimers have little to no legal effect, and you should feel welcome to ignore them unless you know you’re dealing with actual corporate secrets.

This type of signature deserves a special place in hell just for being so long. And besides, if they wanted you not to read the email, why wait until the end of the message to attach the disgusting disclaimer? If you guessed “because it doesn’t need to be there at all,” you win a cookie.*

*DISCLAIMER: The cookie offered in the previous paragraph is metaphorical. No actual food will be delivered by Urlesque to readers who guessed correctly.

The Preachy “Do Not Print” Message

Do we inherit the Earth from our ancestors, or borrow it from our children? Please consider the environment before printing this email.

Who even owns a printer? And, amongst those who do, who prints out frickin’ email?! I’m sure your emails are works of concise, poignant beauty, but there’s no way I need to put one of them on actual paper. It’s 2011, dude.

And even if I were about to punch CTRL-P (note to anyone under 20: that’s the keyboard command to print something) do you really think a lazy, guilt-tripping quotation would stop me? Heck, it would probably make me waste the paper out of spite toward your self-righteous presumption that I didn’t care about the environment until you awakened my mind with your noble email signature.

The “Social Media Marketer” Signature

Bob Loblaw
Impressive Made-Up Business Title

Skype: areyouevenstillreadingthis

*Get your FREE Caps Lock key if you're even still paying attention at*

Author of "Totally Made Up Self-Published Book about Marketing"

It’s happened to all of us: the one-line email message from a friend who works in “marketing,” with a 50-line signature. It includes links to every social networking profile the author has. Facebook! LinkedIn! Twitter! Something called SmashCruft that you’ve never even heard of! Personal blog! Professional blog! Dog blog! Log blog! YouTube! A fake book they wrote!

If you wanted to friend someone on a site, you’d search for them on that site or ask them to add you if you couldn’t find them. A more likely scenario when someone’s got this kind of obnoxious sig is that you don’t want to be friends with them on any social network, because they’ll only use it to spam you with links to their other profiles.

The Inspirational Quote

.¸¸.•´¯`♥ "Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover. -- Mark Twain ♥.¸¸.•´¯`

I don’t want to write off every single inspirational quotation ever, but the overused sayings of famous dead people don’t add anything to your email. I asked you to tell me the address of the party, not tell me whether God plays dice with the universe, or where I’ll land if I shoot for the moon and miss. Also, the little hearts and the extra asterisks and tildes make me question our friendship.

Also, don’t think you’re exempt from this one if you’re listing Klingon proverbs or quoting some badass character from a video game. The point is that these quotes have nothing to do with the person you’re emailing or the topic you’re emailing them about.

The Email Address In The Email Signature

Email me at

Please, I beseech you, put your email address in your email signature. Otherwise, I would lack any means of replying to your delightful correspondence. For, you see, I am stuck in Dickensian London, where the reply button and the “from” field have not yet been invented. Also, I can’t afford the free address books offered by every major email provider, so I shall need you to include your email address every time you require a reply. Thanks for understanding.

By Jay Hathaway