What is a signature block?

by Adarsh Raj Bhatt in August 4th, 2021

TLDR

  • Signature blocks are best understood as blocks of text which are personalized and attached to the bottom of content like an email, forum post, newsletter, or even a blog post.
  • Signature blocks are used to attach the name, address, phone number, and/or other important information related to the sender of a message. They function as a digital stamp and serve as a great addition to any document that you send electronically by making it look more professional to the various entities that you do business with.
  • While signature blocks generally maintain a standard format, startups have an option to customize their signature. Most founders believe in creating their signature blocks in the format of business cards.
  • The laws regarding electronic signatures that signature blocks represent are clearly stated in the Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act of 2000.
  • Signature blocks have several benefits, such as aiding in brand alignment, boosting campaign promotions, and facilitating smooth communication.
  • At the same time, signature blocks might come with their own limitations for some startups, such as a risk of information being compromised, potential reliability issues, and particular software errors.
  • In the case of more informal communication, rather than using the complete signature block, you have the option of using a shorthand known as a signature line. A signature line includes your name and a prefix of your choice.
  • You can add signature blocks to a PDF document (via software like Adobe Acrobat Pro, Adobe Acrobat Pro DC, etc.) by following the steps that we discuss in this post.

What is a Signature Block?

Signature blocks are best understood as blocks of text which are personalized and attached to the bottom of content like an email, forum post, newsletter, or even a blog post.

A signature block is more often abbreviated to: 

  • “Signature” 
  • “Sig block” 
  • “Sig file” 
  • “Sig” 
  • “Dot sig” 

What is a signature block used for?

It’s used to attach the name, address, phone number, and/or other important information related to the sender of a message. It functions as a digital stamp and serves as a great addition to any document that you send electronically.  

Traditionally, the practice of using a signature block is to include a few lines that briefly give information about the author. This information is typically in a .sig format and written in monospace ASCII format as it came before MIME and HTML.

While authors can append their signature boxes manually to every document, this task tends to become somewhat tedious with an increase in the number of documents sent electronically. Thankfully, email clients (including Microsoft Outlook, and Outlook Express, among others) can be configured so that a signature block is automatically appended to every new message or email sent. 

That’s not all ...

In case of more informal communication, rather than using the complete signature block, you have the option of using a shorthand known as a signature line. A signature line includes your name and a prefix of your choice. It is a perfect way to signify a proper end of a post or an email. 

How does a signature block work?

It’s no secret that startups and small businesses rely heavily on impactful communication with their stakeholders. A signature block is a great addition in this regard as it helps make your post/message look more professional to the various entities you do business with. This is why most forward-looking startups are known to automatically attach signature blocks to all their outgoing messages. 

While signature blocks generally maintain a standard format, startups have an option to customize the signature. Most founders believe in creating their signature blocks in the format of business cards. What this means is that the information and presentation of the signature blocks will closely resemble that of the business card. So, the block can be customized to include either the logo of the startup or a watermark based on the preference of the founder. 

As an example of custom information, some signature blocks are known to include email disclaimers. These disclaimers are akin to “postscript” messages and are generally appended to the end of emails. They are typically used to convey information about confidentiality, copyright, defamation, discrimination, etc. 

Some countries have laws that require business emails to include specific information in their signature blocks. These laws are necessary in case the documents are someday required to be used in a legal situation. The laws regarding electronic signatures (that signature blocks represent) are clearly stated in the Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act of 2000.

Source

Benefits of a signature block

Signature blocks are useful tools that offer a way of making your message stand out amongst the clutter recipients' email inboxes. By helping your message stand out, you can better establish your brand presence amongst your stakeholders. Using signature blocks can help you increase your overall engagement, conversions, and sales. 

The following are some of the most common benefits of using signature blocks in your business emails:

#1: Brand Alignment

Brand alignment essentially refers to brands, big and small, living up to the promises they made and the values that they stand for. It is measured by how well employees understand and communicate the key brand messaging. 

In today’s day and age, the best way to establish employee engagement is via social media. However, the behavior of employees on social media tilts more toward being personal than it does toward being professional or representative of your startup's brand.

The one thing that employees are consistent in is sending emails; an incalculable number of emails are sent from your employees to customers, vendors, and as internal communications. When each of these messages is stamped with your signature block, it helps promote a professional image of your startup within your business network. It establishes the optimal tone with the person receiving the email by advertising your brand and portraying it in a favorable light every time. Since emails are generally one-on-one conversations, they have special potential to spark a personal relationship with the recipient.  

#2: Campaign promotions

Every kind of business, especially startups, is looking to scale and expand. Being successful in doing so is an important part of a startup’s overall success as without scaling, you’ll not be able to last too long in a market where your competition is increasing on a daily basis. 

That’s where signature blocks come in. A properly designed signature block could be a great way to get the word out about new campaigns. Every document that is shared through your startup’s server will bear your unique mark, making every email a potential marketing tool.

Every customer and vendor who receives your emails will be able to get some idea about what your startup is about and what new campaigns it is running. For example, you can add a link to your website, a social media post, or a specific webpage that provides information about the business campaign (e.g., a sales drive with special offers and discounts) that your team is working on. 

#3: Smooth communication

Effective customer service is an integral part of offering any great product or service. 

This means that your customers and vendors should be able to contact you in case of complaints, feedback, or matters related to future business with you. The engagement (and even churn) of your customers and vendors will rely strongly on the ease with which they can reach out to you.

The information in your signature block will include valuable contact information including your email address, personal phone number, and customer care details the recipient can use to get in touch with you. This will help you pave the way for smooth, personal, and effective communication pathways with your network, which is a boon for the future of your startup. 

Limitations of a signature block

While it is true that signature blocks and electronic signatures add many pros to your emails and are great communication tools, there is also a second side to them. The following are some of the disadvantages that you might face with signature blocks:

#1: Compromised Information

With all the gifts that the information age has given us, there will always remain nefarious entities who will try to manipulate you and your details for their selfish gain. Signature blocks hold simple information like your name, position in the startup, phone number, and email ID. Black hat hackers are known to fish for such information and use it to gain access to your startup's servers. 

If not secured properly, the signature block can be copied and used to forge (false) documents. These documents can be circulated to spread misinformation very quickly and dangerously. A significant amount of your resources will then have to be diverted to dealing with this mishap.

#2: Reliability

Adding electronic signatures to emails has become a common practice for most new startups. But if you are making the first contact with a potential customer, they might be skeptical about the validity of your credentials. This skepticism can be attributed to the increase in email fraud that has gripped our world today. Being subject to doubt and suspicion from people is more common if you are an early-stage startup. 

The best way to sidestep this disadvantage is by building a largely face-to-face relationship before switching to electronic communication. Then, as you achieve significant market presence, this problem quickly becomes moot.   

#3: Software Error

While you can add your signature block manually, as your email output increases, you will prefer to switch to a more automated process. 

While there aren’t generally many problems with automated signature blocks, issues do start to arise when you add a logo to your signature block that’s not been configured correctly. For example, when the recipient opens their email, the logo might fluctuate in size and obscure part, or perhaps even all of the content in the email. 

This is why it’s key to make sure you conduct testing and experimentation with your signature block before you start officially using it. 

How to add a Digital Signature Block to a PDF

PDF is the standard format in which most documents are shared today. The following are steps that you can follow to create an electronic signature in your PDF documents. Here we will use Adobe Acrobat Pro and Pro DC as our examples. 

Using Adobe Acrobat Pro:

  1. Open the PDF document.
  2. Using the menu on the right, select the option marked “Forms.”
  3. In the “Forms” menu, find and select “Create.”
  4. A pop-up window will open. In case you want to add a signature block to the existing document, choose “Existing.” Select “Continue” for the current document and click on “OK.”
  5. From the “Tasks” menu bar, select “Add New Field.”
  6. Among the new field options, choose “Digital Signature.”
  • When the mouse is moved back on the document, an illuminated blue signature field will appear. Hold the mouse button and drag the cursor to create a signature block of your desired size in the desired location. 
  • Once done, a yellow dialog box will ask you to designate the name of this signature block. This practice is helpful for identification purposes if you plan on getting multiple signatures on the same document. During this process, you can also identify the signature block as a required field on this document by clicking the necessary block.
  • Once you have chosen the name of your signature block, you can click anywhere on the side and your digital signature box will be dropped into the document. You now have the option to move the box around and place it in, say, a more favorable location. 
  • Once finished, make sure to save the changes that you have made to the document

Using Adobe Acrobat Pro DC to add a Signature Block

If you have the Pro DC version of Adobe Acrobat, then you can get the job done with the following steps:

  1. Open your document in Adobe Acrobat.
  2. Review the list of tools that are available to you on the right-hand side menu. Look for “Digital Signature” or “Prepare Form.” In case these options are not listed, follow these steps: 
  • In the “More Tools” option, click on “Customize.”
  • You will be taken to a new page where you’ll find all the tools available to you. Look for the tool named “Prepare Form.” From the drop-down below, click on “Add.”
  • Now come back to the main document and look at the menu on the right-hand side. The “Prepare Form” option should be available to you now. 
  1. Click on the “Prepare Form” option. You will be asked to choose the document you want to customize. Choose the current document you are working on and click on “Start.”
  2. If Adobe finds any other fillable fields on the document, it will try to auto-fill them for you. You have the option to either keep these fields or delete them, based on your preference. 
  3. To add a signature block, you will have to look for an icon that looks like a pen signing a document. This can be found in the “Options” bar right above your document. When you hover your cursor over it, you can see the “Digital Signature” option. Click on this icon.
  4. Once you move back to the document, you should be able to see a blue signature field. Click and drag the cursor to decide the size of the signature block. 
  5. Once done, a yellow box will appear below it where you can write the name of this field. In this yellow box, you can also identify the signature block as a required field. 
  6. Once the signature block has been named, you can click to the side and the signature block should drop in your text. Now you can move it around and place it in the desired location. 
  7. Once you are satisfied with its placement, save the document.    

Citations

Wikipedia Signature block

10 CFR § 2.304 - Formal requirements for documents; signatures; acceptance for filing.

Top 3 Benefits of Using Email Signatures

Email Signature Pros & Cons | Exclaimer

How to add a digital signature field to a PDF

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