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Good and bad practices when creating signatures or disclaimers

A bad design or wrong HTML source code tags may cause your signatures or disclaimers to be displayed improperly. See the below list of bad and good practices to avoid most common mistakes.

Please keep in mind that this article is applicable only to the following versions: CodeTwo Exchange Rules Pro 2.0 - 2.2, CodeTwo Exchange Rules 2007 4.0 - 4.2, 2010 3.0 - 3.2 and 2013 2.0 - 2.2. All newer releases introduce an upgraded version of the editor. If you are still using any of the mentioned ones, please update your installation immediately.

    • Bad: Adding only HTML attributes to tags, e.g. <tr width=”100%” vAlign=”top”>. Various mail clients supports HTML and CSS only partially causing improper appearance.
    • Good: The best option is to use HTML attributes along with CSS, e.g. <tr style=”width: 100%; VERTICAL-ALIGN: TOP;” width=”100%” vAlign=”top”>.
    • Bad: Using styles for <body> tag. This may cause text to inherit the wrong style what at the end results in wrong font type or size displayed. 
    • Good: Use CSS styles right by the text, e.g. <span style=”FONT-SIZE: 10pt; FONT-FAMILY: Arial;”>your text</span>.
    • Bad: Using style attribute only in table cell, while it contains paragraph inside. The style definitions should be applied anyway, however the Microsoft Outlook application does not seem to process such signatures properly. Consequently, you may notice changes in appearance of the signature (enlarging/reducing text size, using different color or font), in particular scenarios (when forwarding or replying). For example: <tr><td style="font-family: Arial;"><p>CONTENT</p></td></tr>.
    • Good: As the editor automatically appends a paragraph inside every table cell, use CSS styles for every element that should apply to specified styles, e.g. <tr><td style="font-family: Arial;"><p style="font-family: Arial;">CONTENT</p></td></tr>.
    • Bad: Using custom fonts not installed by default in common environments (e.g. Windows, Mac OS X, Android). For example: <span style="font-family: Open Sans;">. Font will not be displayed until installation.
    • Good: Use only safe-web fonts: Arial, Helvetica, Arial Black, Gadget, Comic Sans MS, Impact, Charcoal, Lucida Sans Unicode, Lucida Grande, Tahoma, Geneva, Trebuchet MS, Verdana, Courier New, Lucida Console, Times New Roman.
    • Bad: Using <style></style> tags in head section of template. CodeTwo Exchange Rules family program do not support such tags.
    • Good: Use CSS styles inline, e.g. <tr style=”width: 100%; VERTICAL-ALIGN: TOP;”>.
    • Bad: Using external editors to create signatures or disclaimers. Such editors generate lots of unnecessary HTML source code content, for example <html xmlns:o="urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office">, such code not only makes the signature source code too big but may also contain unsupported tags or use the supported ones improperly.
    • Good: Use only editors provided with CodeTwo software.
    • Bad: Wrapping the Remove Text tags around the whole HTML tags that define the text outside the Remove Text tags, e.g. {RT}<span style=”FONT-SIZE: 9pt;”>{City}{/RT} your text also here</span>. The proper code may look like this <span style=”FONT-SIZE: 9pt;”>{RT}{City}{/RT} your text also here</span>.
    • Good: Make sure the Remove Text tags are used properly. Review the source code first and test your rules on dummy mailboxes prior to deploying them in the production environment.
    • Bad: Adding big images and scaling them in the editor or in the source code by defining their display dimensions.
    • Good: It is strongly advised to re-scale the image and save it in desired dimensions prior to adding to the signature.
    • Bad: Creating signatures or disclaimers based on <div> or <p> tags. Not every email client properly interprets such tags
    • Good: It is better to create signatures or disclaimers based on tables (<table>).
    • ​​Bad: Using ENTER key to break the line in the editor. This results in <p></p> tags being added in the HTML source code. <p> tag defines new paragraph and this adds some additional space before and/or after the paragraph. Moreover, some email clients do not display such body properly - the additional space may not be displayed at all or the gap between paragraphs may differ from one email client to another.
    • Good: Use tables to create your signature. If you do not want to use tables break the line by hitting SHIFT and ENTER keys together or place <br /> tags at the end of each line you want to break in the HTML source code.​
    • ​​Bad: Creating a signature or disclaimer template made solely of an image file.
    • Good: Signatures or disclaimers should contain some text to be properly positioned and recognized. If you create a template made of an image only such signature may be inserted improperly and most likely such signature will not be recognized as existing signature when passing our agent in the future.
    • ​​Bad: Providing line height in points, e.g. <TD style="font-size: 12pt; line-height: 12pt;">
    • Good: Spacing in your signature may be enormous when opening a message in OWA (Outlook Web Application). To avoid such problems please define the value of font-size and line-height CSS properties in pixels. Also, if you are defining these in the <TD> tag, the font-family attribute must not be included in same CSS declaration. In such cases you should put font-family declaration inside the child tag.
      <!-- this code is part of the HTML table -->
            <!-- note that all values are provided in px unit -->
            <TD style="font-size: 12px; line-height: 12px;">
                 <!-- here is declaration for font family -->
                 <SPAN style="font-family: Arial;">
                    Your content here
    • ​​Bad: Breaking lines with "shift+enter" in Plain Text signatures.
    • Good: The Plaint Text email body standards allow each line to be as long as 998 characters, however, breaking line every 78 characters is recommended. Most email clients do that for you if such a long line is detected in the body. Keep in mind, though, that email clients and email servers not always follow the above mentioned standard and impose their own word wrapping rules that often are not possible to be modified by the end user. CodeTwo software does not break the line on its own. When creating Plain Text signatures make sure that you use just Enter key when manually breaking lines. This will help you avoiding problems with improper text wrapping by your email clients and servers - line broken with "shift+enter" may not be considered line breaks at all. Also, please consult this KB article if you use "Remove extra line breaks in plain text messages" feature.
    • ​​Bad: Using the default border settings in images turned into hyperlinks.
    • Good: Many of HTML viewers (like e-mail applications) are appending solid blue border around images that are used as hyperlinks, therefore look of signature may be far from expectations. To avoid such problems, append the border attribute set to 0, directly on image:
      <a href=""><img src="logo.png" style="border: 0;" /></a>
    • ​​Bad: Using email signatures defined previously in mail client.
    • Good: Disable email signatures enabled in your mail client, especially regarding mobile devices. The HTML source code defined in your client may cause problems while merging with the signature stamped by CodeTwo software.
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