[Update]: This blog post was first published on July 13, 2017. It’s been updated to reflect the current steps required for a proper mail flow rule setup in Exchange Online.
Do your email signatures pile up at the bottom of your conversation threads? Well, I have bad news and good news for you. The bad news is that this is the default setup for Microsoft 365 / Office 365 email signatures. The mail flow rule responsible for appending email signatures can insert them at the very top or at the very bottom of the entire email thread. The good news is that there are ways to work around this. Let’s get right into the details.
[Update]: This blog post was first published on July 7, 2016. It’s been updated to reflect the current steps required for a proper configuration in the Exchange admin center.
In this article, you can find out how to set up your own server-level automatic email signature or disclaimer in Office 365. Like most of today’s email signature solutions, it supports HTML content such as tables, images and font formatting, but in contrast to e.g. Google Workspace (G Suite), it also allows for automatic personalization of individual signatures. However, there is no option to e.g. insert the signature directly below the latest reply/forward, or preview it in the user’s mailbox.
[Update]: This article was first published on October 19, 2015. It was updated to include more useful information.
Active Directory (AD) and Azure Active Directory (AAD) are databases that contain a lot of information about a company, especially its employees. There is a lot of different ways to access this data and even more ways in which you can use it. Pretty much every app and service for Microsoft 365 or Exchange Server uses at least some information from this data treasury to offer better collaboration, automation, etc. In a nutshell, AD user attributes are there to make your job easier. That’s why it might help to know which information is easily accessible and how to get it from your user directory.
In this article, I’ll focus on using Active Directory data to personalize a global email signature across an organization.
What is a global email signature?
A global email signature is a way to manage email signatures in an organization. The general idea is to use one signature template and automatically personalize it for all users. Thanks to this, every mailbox can get a professional, company-controlled signature, without the need for users to do anything. Personal info and contact data used to personalize the template is taken straight from Active Directory (for Exchange Server) or Azure Active Directory (for Exchange Online).
There are two most common ways to create a global email signature in Microsoft 365 and Exchange Server:
It’s crucial to know what user attributes are available for signatures and how exactly to use them. And that’s precisely what you’ll learn below.
Active Directory user attributes in signatures: available placeholders for mail flow rules and VBScript
When deploying email signatures for multiple users from a central place, you need a way to easily include these users’ personal information like names, titles, departments, addresses, etc. in the signatures. This is achieved using placeholders integrated with a central directory that stores users’ personal details (e.g. Active Directory), and including the placeholders in signature templates.
Both Microsoft Exchange Server’s and Microsoft 365’s built-in email signature management solutions do exactly that, i.e. download data from Active Directory (or Office 365 user directory) into the signature based on who is the sender of the given email.
Unfortunately, Microsoft 365 and on-premises Exchange do not support all AD user account attributes. However, those which are available should be enough to create a simple email signature.
Here is the full list of attributes supported by Exchange’s and Office 365’s email signature management solutions. I divided them into sections that correspond with tabs in the Active Directory Users and Computers object Properties window. In the right column I’ve put the Active Directory Domain Services names of attributes (use them when deploying the signature template via a VBS script).
IMPORTANT: When setting up email signatures in hub transport/mail flow rules in Exchange 2019, 2016, 2013, 2010, 2007 or Microsoft 365, remember to enclose the ADAttribute (left column of below table) with double percent signs, like shown in the table. The “%%” part is not for show.
List of Active Directory user attributes available for email signature rules and VBScript
Active Directory attributes in Exchange and Office 365 email signatures
Used in mail flow rules
Used in a VBScript
AD DS: displayName
AD DS: givenName
AD DS: initials
AD DS: sn
AD DS: physicalDeliveryOfficeName
AD DS: telephoneNumber
AD DS: otherTelephone
AD DS: mail
AD DS: streetAddress
AD DS: postOfficeBox
AD DS: l (as in "location")
AD DS: st
AD DS: postalCode
AD DS: co
AD DS: userPrincipalName
AD DS: homePhone
AD DS: otherHomePhone
AD DS: pager
AD DS: mobile
AD DS: facsimileTelephoneNumber
AD DS: otherFacsimileTelephoneNumber
AD DS: info
AD DS: title
AD DS: department
AD DS: company
Returns the common name (cn) of the object defined in the manager AD DS attribute
CustomAttribute1-15 (e.g. %%CustomAttribute1%%)
AD DS: extensionAttribute1 through extensionAttribute15
Note: Some Active Directory attributes (e.g. otherTelephone, otherHomePhone, otherFacsimileTelephoneNumber and postOfficeBox) support multiple values. In the case where more than 1 value is provided, the output will include all values separated by semicolons.
While mail flow rules and VBScript let you manage email signatures in a company, they are not ideal. No matter if you use them in on-premises Exchange or Microsoft 365, they have their dark sides. I list some of them below:
Mail flow rule signatures
Need to be managed by IT.
Offer no signature editor (you need to use raw HTML code).
Signatures are added either at the very top or the very bottom of an email conversation. In other words, they work well(ish) only for a first message and not for replies and forwards.
Only online images can be used. Most email clients block those images by default.
There’s no way for users to see their signatures before they send an email or even in Sent Items. This usually results in more tickets to IT (‘my signature is missing’ / ’I have double signatures’).
No way to convert emails to HTML format. Simply speaking – if users send emails from mobiles, they’ll only get a broken plain text signature.
That’s only a few of the limitations. For a complete list of limitations, see this article.
VBScript email signatures
Work only for Outlook for Windows.
Require you to have at least some scripting skills.
Require a local Active Directory.
Are difficult to update.
If you want to change your email signature management method to easy, effective and free from those limitations, check out those tools.
[Update]: This blog was first published on January 20, 2017. It was updated with new disclaimer examples and some additional information.
Email disclaimers have been around for a long time, and for a good reason. Despite the ongoing discussion on their legal effectiveness and enforceability, legal teams insist on inserting them into emails. Disclaimers inform recipients about what they can and cannot do with the emails sent from your company. A humble request to inform the sender in case the message was intended for someone else will usually work. Thanks to that, you could e.g. learn that something is wrong in your newsletter subscription list or even save a deal after simply misspelling your client’s email address.
If you have a task to create an email disclaimer or signature for your company and your mind went blank, fear not. We are here to provide inspiration.
First of all, do not forget to insert your company’s data into the disclaimer. This serves more than one purpose. First of all, providing information on your company is required by law in some countries. For more information on legal requirements for email disclaimers, please consult this article. Apart from the legal aspect, there is also a high marketing value. Including your company’s name and other information in every email makes your brand more and more recognizable and reinforces the bond between you and the client.
In this article, you can find text content for your disclaimers. If you want to give them a nice graphic design and combine with a good looking email signature, you can consult the article on professional email signature designs. Here, provided email disclaimers examples are divided into sections depending on what they apply to:
One of the most important things to mention in a good email disclaimer example is confidentiality. Simply speaking, it is to state that the message should be read only by the original recipient and that sharing its content is strictly forbidden. Keep in mind that simply adding such a disclaimer doesn’t guarantee the email won’t be shared or forwarded. If you’re sharing strictly confidential information, it’s better to use mechanisms such as encryption.
The content of this email is confidential and intended for the recipient specified in message only. It is strictly forbidden to share any part of this message with any third party, without a written consent of the sender. If you received this message by mistake, please reply to this message and follow with its deletion, so that we can ensure such a mistake does not occur in the future.
This message has been sent as a part of discussion between [Sender’s name] and the addressee whose name is specified above. Should you receive this message by mistake, we would be most grateful if you informed us that the message has been sent to you. In this case, we also ask that you delete this message from your mailbox, and do not forward it or any part of it to anyone else. Thank you for your cooperation and understanding.
This is a reminder for the addressee that they should check the message and attachments against viruses. This may either prevent clients’ computers from infection, or the company from being sued for the damage caused by viruses.
[Your company] puts the security of the client at a high priority. Therefore, we have put efforts into ensuring that the message is error and virus-free. Unfortunately, full security of the email cannot be ensured as, despite our efforts, the data included in emails could be infected, intercepted, or corrupted. Therefore, the recipient should check the email for threats with proper software, as the sender does not accept liability for any damage inflicted by viewing the content of this email.
Sometimes, it might happen that when someone asks for a quotation, the recipient assumes that it equals entering an agreement. In other situations, an employee might get carried away and promise something that oversteps their authority. Those email disclaimer examples help both parties avoid misunderstandings.
This quotation request is sent to compare available offers and does not imply entering into a legally binding contract.
No employee of [your company’s name] has the authority to conclude any binding contract without an explicit written consent of their supervisor. Therefore, any will to enter into an agreement must be confirmed by the [Sender’s name]’s manager.
Those email disclaimer examples are very short and with a nice green icon can support the environment and show that you care.
Please do not print this email unless it is necessary. Every unprinted email helps the environment.
Is it necessary to print this email? If you care about the environment like we do, please refrain from printing emails. It helps to keep the environment forested and litter-free.
This email disclaimer offers the company help when e.g. an employee writes something offensive. It is a safety measure against the company being sued for personal viewpoints of individuals in the company.
The views and opinions included in this email belong to their author and do not necessarily mirror the views and opinions of the company. Our employees are obliged not to make any defamatory clauses, infringe, or authorize infringement of any legal right. Therefore, the company will not take any liability for such statements included in emails. In case of any damages or other liabilities arising, employees are fully responsible for the content of their emails.
The opinions and beliefs expressed in this email are mine and do not have to reflect opinions and beliefs of the company.
Estimated response time
Estimated response time is usually added to emails sent from shared mailboxes which observe an intensive mail flow. A good example is a technical support email address. Information on when to expect a response is often added to a disclaimer found in the automatic response.
Due to an increased number of support requests we are currently receiving, it may take up to X days to receive a response. We always respond to licensed users first. We apologize for the inconvenience.
Email disclaimers in newsletters
Those are especially important, as they deal with subscribers’ lists. According to regulations concerned with email spamming and privacy, you have to provide an easy way to unsubscribe from such a list. Are you perhaps wondering what could happen if there is no unsubscribe mechanism? Or if you do not provide information about your company? As an example, according to Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL), sending a commercial electronic message within, from or to Canada without such mechanism can result in criminal and civil charges, as well as in huge penalties. For more information, you can visit this site. Below, you have some email disclaimer examples to show you how to put it into words.
You have received this mail because you have subscribed for a newsletter at [your website’s address]. You can always unsubscribe from our mailing list, by clicking on Unsubscribe You can also reply to this message, including unsubscribe in the topic.
This message is sent to you because your email address is on our subscribers list. If you are not interested in receiving more emails like this one, just hit Unsubscribe.
Thank you for subscribing to our newsletter. [Your company name] team will work hard to deliver good quality information in the fields you have specified upon subscription. However, if you decide that you no longer want to receive such emails from us, feel free to click the link below. Click here to unsubscribe.
If you manage your subscribers’ list on your own, you can easily create an unsubscribe link. Just create a hyperlink on the unsubscribe text and link it to: mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org?subject=unsubscribe
Full content email disclaimer examples
In many cases, you will want to have a disclaimer which falls into more than just one of the listed categories. In such a case, there is a great risk that your disclaimer becomes annoyingly long. The task of keeping such a disclaimer concise and comprehensive is not an easy one, so here is an example you can make use of:
Company Street ● City ● Postal Code ● State ● Country ● Website The content of this message is confidential. If you have received it by mistake, please inform us by an email reply and then delete the message. It is forbidden to copy, forward, or in any way reveal the contents of this message to anyone. The integrity and security of this email cannot be guaranteed over the Internet. Therefore, the sender will not be held liable for any damage caused by the message.
Company Street City Postal Code Country website
Information included in this email is reserved to named addressee’s eyes only. You may not share this message or any of its attachments to anyone. Please note that as the recipient, it is your responsibility to check the email for malicious software. Finally, the opinions disclosed by the sender do not have to reflect those of the company, therefore the company refuses to take any liability for the damage caused by the content of this email.
Bad disclaimer examples
The legal effectiveness of email disclaimers is subject to many discussions. One of the main reasons for that is a popular misconception that email disclaimers are like a legal contract. They are not.
The three most common bad uses of the email disclaimer are:
a page-long (and I’ve seen even longer) disclaimers in various languages, which attempt to list each and every possible wrong use of an email. It’s especially bad when added to a one-sentence-long email.
Aggressive demands, which are meant to scare a coincidental recipient. They are likely to backfire more than anything else.
Humorous or unprofessional disclaimers added to business correspondence.
Some of the bad disclaimer examples:
It’s strictly prohibited to share, copy, print, or otherwise process the content of this email without a written consent from the sender.
This email was sent from an ancient stone tablet.
If I find your email interesting, I’ll respond right away. If it’s another standard business email, please allow 4 business days for a response.
It doesn’t matter what I write here, since nobody reads disclaimers anyway.
How to manage disclaimers for the whole company
IIn order to automatically insert personalized email disclaimers and signatures or set up fully-branded automatic replies, you could use CodeTwo Exchange Rules Pro (if your company uses Microsoft Exchange) or CodeTwo Email Signatures for Office 365 (if your company uses Exchange Online from Office 365 as a mail server). Those programs let you create and centrally manage email disclaimers that are automatically added to all emails sent from your company. The fact that the email disclaimers can be added at the server level does not require the users to remember to design them, and to add them to emails (even the ones sent from mobile phones). What is more, CodeTwo solutions include a library of already made graphically appealing email signatures and disclaimers. These tools also allow you to create different email signature templates for various departments, automatically using certain disclaimers depending on the recipient’s email address and offer much more functionalities. To find out more, go to:
CodeTwo Email Signatures for Office 365 (this software also can operate in client-side signature mode, allowing your users choose between different signature and disclaimer variants when composing an email in Outlook desktop apps)
Using imagery has always been an instinctive way of communication for people – no matter if you think of 30k years old cave paintings or football hooligans’ doodles in your neighborhood. Let’s face it: humans are visual animals by nature.
That’s also the reason why the Web is becoming more and more visual. And the same applies to email signatures. While, in the era of 56 kbit/s connections, a signature could be a line or two lines of a text, now it can be much more than that. Banners, social media links, one-click surveys – you can have it all. And a photo? A photo or a headshot (any FPP game fans there?) is definitely a good idea! Read on if you want to learn why.
Nowadays it is quite hard to find at least one smartphone or tablet which is not equipped with a high-resolution display or, in the case of Apple’s devices, the so-called “Retina display”. Also, more and more laptops are getting these onboard. The real power of a high-resolution screen is that it displays the same area as a conventional screen, but uses up to three times more pixels to do so.
This approach gives ultimate sharpness and depth to everything you can see on your display. The same applies to email signatures. You may have already noticed that images with low pixel density appear a bit blurry on high-resolution displays. And if we zoom in a little bit more – they just look really bad.
At first glance, email signatures may not seem that important, especially if you compare them with other things going on in your company. But if you delve deeper into this, you will find out that email signatures play a significant role when it comes to marketing, branding or maintaining a good relationship with your customers. What is more, disclaimers added to these email signatures may also prevent you from legal issues. Keep in mind that even the best-written email may not do its job if you are not confident enough about the company you are dealing with, so gaining a client’s trust should be a priority for each employee in your company. Certainly, a fine-looking email signature that contains useful information is a nice try to make a good impression. And if you combine a fine-looking signature with an attractive marketing banner, the results may surpass your expectations.
[Update]: This blog post was updated on August 12, 2020.
If you are reading this, I guess you are already well aware of how important it is to have a corporate email signature inserted into your business emails. That’s great, but does the rest of your co-workers realize that too? You can use your online correspondence as a platform to promote your brand and spread your company’s values. However, it will not be effective if all employees create email signatures on their own. How to solve that? All you need is an official, standardized email signature template for your company. Then, you need to implement it for all users. In this article, I will guide you through an easy email signature standardization process.
Unify your email signature design
Your brand image is your selling point, so it is crucial to include it in every outgoing business email. To solidify your brand identity, you need to create an original and consistent portrait of your organization to show in email communication. To do that, you can:
Delegate one person to manage all users’ email signatures.
Get rid of decorative fonts, inspirational quotes, and unproper pictures of employees’ in emails.
Make sure the email signature template isn’t too long but includes all necessary details.
Analyze the relevance of every single item included in your email signature block.
Have you ever tried to create a perfect email signature for your entire company? If so, you probably know that designing a good signature is sometimes far more complex than building a complete website. And this is because different email clients have their very own way of interpreting the HTML code you wrote, which makes the signature design be a far cry from what you expected. However, there are several rules that you can follow to achieve better results. Let’s get started.
To design your signature, you would need an HTML editor. The standard Windows Notepad is enough, but an editor with syntax highlighting and automatic completion (like Notepad++ or Sublime Editor) will be a much better option.