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Signatures for all occasions in Outlook

How to have email signatures in Outlook for all the different roles in your life. Most of us wear different ‘hats’ – a family member, friend, person, employee or volunteer. Each of those ‘hats’ can have a different Outlook email signature.

Which Outlook signature you use depends on the situation and, perhaps, the email account you’re using.

Clarification: here we’re talking about the ‘signatures’ that can go at the bottom of an email message text. The other email ‘signature’ is the digital signature that can verify your identity and encrypt emails.


Signatures have been in Outlook for a long time. In an email message go to Message | Include | Signature.

If you’ve already created a signature, you can choose one from the pull-down list and it’ll be copied into the message where your cursor is currently placed. Otherwise choose Signatures …. to see the options.

At the top is a list of available signatures with options to delete, make, save or rename a signature.

On top right is a choice of email accounts (a pull-down list if you have more than one in that Outlook profile). Signatures can be linked to particular email accounts – with different signatures (or none) for new messages and replies/forwards. More on this below.

The bottom is where you can make or edit a signature. Signatures can contain anything that an email message can – images, links, color, symbols etc. The editing tools are quite limited so most people create their signatures in Word or a HTML editor then paste into the Edit signature space. You can attach a .vcf Business Card to emails using the toolbar button but it’s rarely used these days, most people have a link to Facebook, Linkedin etc.

Accounts and Signatures

Each email account can have one or more signatures automatically inserted into messages for that account.

You might have two email accounts, one for personal emails and another linked to your work email. Each email account can have a signature that automatically appears when you make a new message, reply or forward – that’s done from the ‘Signatures and Stationery’ dialog mentioned above.

You don’t have to use the automatic signature feature and many people don’t because they use different signatures for messages sent with the one email account.

Multiple Signatures

Quite often you need more signatures than email accounts – that’s for your different ‘hats’ or roles in life. You don’t email family members the same way that you would the electricity company!

That’s where the pull-down signatures list becomes useful. Here’s an example of signatures for someone with a few ‘hats’ from father, friend, leading member of some clubs plus a full formal signature.

Order of signatures

Can’t reorder the signature list, it’s locked into alphabetical order. Your only control is to rename a signature to change the order – using the old underscore or dot prefix trick to put an entry at the top of the list.

In Office there’s usually a way to reorder a list (for example Quick Access buttons) but not signatures. Most likely Microsoft could not be bothered to update this dialog. In meantime we’re stuck with using a nerd trick that pre-dates Windows, let alone Office!

Changing a signature

Once inserted into a message, the signature block can be altered just like any other text for ‘one off’ changes. Once inserted, the signature is just like any other part of the email and it can be edited.

If you inserted the wrong signature (or the default doesn’t suit) there’s no need to select and delete the signature. Just choose a different signature from the pull-down list and it will replace the existing signature entirely. It works with the cursor anywhere in the email body – you don’t have to select the signature first. This trick works because hidden in the Word formatting for a signature are tags to show the signature text from the rest of the email.

Permanent changes to a signature are made, naturally, from the Signatures dialog box.

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