How to create a professional email signature in Gmail

How to create a professional email signature in Gmail

In online business, email signatures are the new business card. And I bet you've seen some terrible ones. Yep, me too.

It seems like such a small thing, but when that very first email goes out to a prospective client, you need to make sure that your email signature:

  • Communicates that you're a professional who has their shit together

  • Tells them exactly what they need to know, without a lot of extra clutter

Email signatures are such a big deal that email signature generators (some with fees!) have become a whole industry! But before you give away your email address or actual money just to get a decent signature, let me show you how to quickly and easily create a nice looking signature in Gmail. FOR FREE.

1. Open up a new Google Document and add a table

Click on Table > Insert Table and add a 2x1 table.

Update: The Google Docs menu has changed and you’ll now find this under Insert > Table.

How to create a professional email signature in Gmail

You'll end up with a table that looks like this. This is where we'll build our new email signature.

How to create a professional email signature in Gmail

2. Add your email signature content inside the table

I like to keep it simple, so my signature only contains my photo, my tagline, a link to my website, and a link to my online scheduler so that my clients can schedule a call with me. You might include a phone number if you want people to contact you that way, and you could use your logo or an icon instead of a photo.

Some tips on this:

  • You don't need to include every possible way to contact you. I communicate mainly with clients and prospective clients, so I've only included my two most important links that I want those people to have.

  • You don't need to include your email address in your email signature. This feels like a silly thing to say because, obviously, if they're reading your email they already have your email address, but a lot of people still do it and it's a waste of space.

  • Keep it small and simple for mobile. Because email has limited options for html and CSS, you can't do a lot of fancy formatting, and things are going to get squished on smartphones. My photo is only 100 pixels and I'm using a 10 point font.

  • Don't bother with fancy fonts. Google Docs has loads of fonts to choose from, but Gmail only has about ten, so whatever font you use in this document is going to default to one of those ten when you bring it into Gmail. I'm using Arial, but when I bring it into Gmail it's going to default to generic "Sans Serif".


3. Edit the table properties and remove the border

Right-click anywhere inside the table and select Table Properties. Change the Table Border to 0 points.

You can stop here if you'd like the text to align with the top of your photo or logo, but I want my text centered vertically next to my photo, so I also change the Cell Vertical Alignment to Center.

Screen Shot 2018-01-05 at 11.45.04 AM.png

This is what my signature looks like now. Pretty good! You can stop here if you want.

How to create a professional email signature in Gmail

However, I'd like to add a horizontal line above my signature to separate it from the body of my messages.


4. Add a border to the top of your table

Select the whole table by clicking in one cell and dragging across to the other cell. You should see the content of both cells highlighted. Then, click the little arrow in the upper right corner and select the option for a top border.

How to create a professional email signature in Gmail

When you do this, the menu at the top of your document should change to let you set the style of this border. The most important thing is to set the weight (thickness) of the border - we cleared the weight in our Table Properties earlier to remove the whole table border, so now we need to reset the weight for this top border.

If you want, you can also change the color or style of the border. I use a weight of 1 point and I leave it black.

How to create a professional email signature in Gmail

5. Copy your signature and paste it into Gmail

Now that we've got it looking lovely, we're going to copy our signature from our Google Doc and paste it into Gmail. The Gmail signature editor doesn't allow us to create tables or do all of this formatting, but it'll allow it when pasted in from a Google Doc.

Select All and copy the whole page. Your highlight should look like this. If you see more highlighting above or below your signature, you probably have some stray returns that you should delete.

How to create a professional email signature in Gmail

In Gmail, click on the gear/cog icon, select Settings, navigate to the General tab, and then find the Signature section near the bottom. Click and paste your new signature right in. Click Save Changes at the bottom of the page.

How to create a professional email signature in Gmail

6. Test it out!

Send yourself an email and make sure to check it on your desktop/laptop computer AND smartphone. Tables are not ideal for mobile devices, but it's the only way to build a signature like this in an email where mobile-optimized CSS isn't allowed. You might have to tinker to find a format that works well on both.

Here's my signature on my desktop computer vs. what it looks like when it's condensed on my iPhone:

Desktop Version

Desktop Version

Mobile / Smartphone Version

Mobile / Smartphone Version

You can see why simplicity is important for the mobile version.

There you have it! No signature generator needed. This might work on other popular email platforms, but Gmail and Gsuite are my jam. If you test this out with any other web-based email providers, leave a comment and let me know how it works!