Outlook lets you apply a default signature to new messages, replies, and forwards—you can even have different default signatures for new messages and replies/forwards. You can also create additional signatures that you can apply to any message on the fly. Here’s how they work.

A mail signature is a useful way of including information about who you are, what you do, and how to contact you. In a lot of companies, it’s a requirement, and your signature might have been set up for you before you joined.

However, Outlook doesn’t provide a default signature out of the box, so if your company hasn’t created one for you, or you’ve installed Outlook on your home machine, you’ve got to create one yourself. To do this, click over to File > Options > Mail and then hit the “Signatures” button.

This opens up the Signatures and Stationery window, where you can add, edit and delete signatures. To add a new signature, click “New.”

Give your new signature a name and then click “OK.”

Your new signature will be displayed in the list of signatures, and you can add the content of the signature in the “Edit signature” area.

There is a full range of formatting tools available, including the ability to insert pictures, hyperlinks, and business cards from your contacts.

You can use these formatting tools to add all sorts of information, but for a formal signature you should probably include at least the following:

  • Your full name
  • Your phone number (desk phone AND mobile)
  • Your email address
  • Your company’s website

If you’re creating a signature for yourself, then it’s up to you what you put in it. If you’re setting up a signature for a corporate email address, it’s probably worth checking to see whether there is anything specific you’re expected to include.

Once you’ve got your signature set up the way you want, it’s time to make it the default. First, select the right mailbox (if you’ve set Outlook up to access more than one mailbox), then choose a signature for “New messages” and a signature for “Replies/Forwards” as well.

You also don’t have to have a default signature. If you’d rather start with no signature, select “(none)” on either drop-down menu.

You can create as many signatures are you want, within reason—we’ve created 15 distinct signatures without a problem. There is anecdotal evidence that the maximum number of signatures you can use is 128, but we can’t find verification of this, and it’s unlikely most people would ever run into this problem.

When you create a new message or reply to/forward an existing message, Outlook will apply the default signature you’ve chosen. But you can pick a different one by clicking Message > Signature and then choosing the one you want.

Choosing a new signature will replace the default signature. If you selected “(none)” as the default, then Outlook adds the signature to the bottom of the email section.

Rob Woodgate Rob Woodgate
Rob Woodgate is a writer and IT consultant with nearly 20 years of experience across the private and public sectors. He's also worked as a trainer, technical support person, delivery manager, system administrator, and in other roles that involve getting people and technology to work together.
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