Create an email signature template from scratch - step-by-step guide

CodeTwo Email Signatures for Office 365 comes with an intuitive signature template editor. The editor provides a what-you-see-is-what-you-get (WYSIWYG) experience and has all the necessary tools to design virtually any email signature you want.

Watch our video tutorial to learn how to use the editor to design a professional email signature template from scratch or continue reading for more detailed instructions and best practices.

If you want to speed up the design process, you can also use one of the fully-branded signature templates available in the editor’s template library and customize them to your needs. See this quick guide for more information.

Launch the signature template editor

First, sign in to app.codetwo.com, select a signature rule (or create a new one) and go to the Design step. Click Edit signature (Fig. 1.) to open the editor.

Opening the template editor.
Fig. 1. Opening the template editor.

The editor launches with the template library if no template exists for the rule. For this guide, either select the blank template or close the library.

Create a signature block based on a table

By placing the contents of your email signature in a table, the layout of the signature will stay the same across different devices and email apps. If you have a specific email signature design that you want to recreate in the editor, draw a table outline over it, as shown in Fig. 2. Try placing each element or section of your signature in a separate cell. This will help you create the block (table) for your signature template in the editor.

Drawing a table outline over your signature design.
Fig. 2. Drawing a table outline over your signature design.

To insert a table in the editor, click the Table button on the Main tab. In the window that opens, select the number of rows and columns according to your design. For example, to reflect the layout of the signature shown in Fig. 2., select 8 rows and 2 columns. Note that you will be able to add more rows and columns later as well.

Next, specify the table width. For consistency, use a fixed width and keep it around 400-500 pixels. The lower the table width, the greater the chance the signature will look good on most devices (including mobiles). Click OK to insert the table (Fig. 3.).

Inserting a table into the editor.
Fig. 3. Inserting a table into the editor.

Adjustable table width

If you want the table to adjust automatically to its contents, for example the length of text, you need to edit the source HTML code of your template and either completely remove the width property from the table or use the max-width CSS property instead. See this article to learn how to do so.

When you click anywhere inside a table cell, the Table layout tab will show in the editor (as shown in Fig. 4.). Use the available options to adjust the table to your needs, for example:

  • Click Insert left to add a column to the left of the column in which the cursor is placed.
  • Click Insert above to add a row above the row in which the cursor is placed.
  • Select two or more adjacent cells and click Merge cells to merge them into one cell (Fig. 4.).
  • Click Split cells, select the number of columns and rows, and click OK (Fig. 4.) to divide the selected cell into multiple cells.

Splitting and merging cells in the editor.
Fig. 4. Splitting and merging cells in the editor.

If your table has multiple columns, adjust the width for each of them. To do so, click anywhere inside the first column and use the Column width setting (Fig. 5.). Do the same with other columns. Be sure the sum of all column widths is the same as the width set for the table (as shown in Fig. 3.).

Adjusting the width of the selected table column.
Fig. 5. Adjusting the width of the selected table column.

Add user details (placeholders) and other information

Use placeholders (Fig. 6.) to personalize your signature template with dynamic content, such as first and last name, job title, phone number and so on. When the signature is added to an email, these placeholders are automatically replaced with sender’s data pulled from your company’s Azure Active Directory.

Adding placeholders to your signature template.
Fig. 6. Adding placeholders to your signature template.

Tips

  • Add a space between placeholders that are placed next to each other (e.g. {Fist name} {Last name}).
  • To place placeholders below each other (e.g. {Title} below sender’s name), press Shift + Enter to go to the next line without adding any additional spacing between the lines of text. Using Enter alone adds an additional paragraph instead, and different email apps can add different spacing between paragraphs.
  • To change case format or access other placeholder settings, right-click on the inserted placeholder and select Edit placeholder. Some placeholders may require additional configuration before you can add them to the template.

Type the static text manually. This is the text that remains the same for all users (senders) and can include your company’s official address, labels such as Telephone: and Email: (or simply T: and E:) placed next to related placeholders or a disclaimer (Fig. 7.).

Filling in the signature template with static text.
Fig. 7. Filling in the signature template with static text.

Important

Don’t paste any content directly from Microsoft Word or similar word processing software into the editor. This will add a lot of unwanted formatting to the HTML source code of your template and your signature might just end up looking bad on many devices.

Change font style and color

To change the size, style and font of the text, use the options available in the Font group on the Main tab (Fig. 8.). Select multiple cells at once if you want to apply the same formatting to different parts of the signature.

Here are all the tools that will let you change the formatting of text in your template.
Fig. 8. Here are all the tools that will let you change the formatting of text in your template.

Web safe fonts 

We recommend using web safe fonts only (e.g. Arial, Verdana, Helvetica, Tahoma, Trebuchet MS, Times New Roman, Georgia or Garamond) to make sure your email signature looks the same across all devices. Learn more

To change the color of text, first select the text (or entire cell) and click the Font color button. Next, find the right color with the color picker (or enter its hex code in the provided box, as shown in Fig. 9.) and click Save to apply the selected color.

Changing the font color in the editor.
Fig. 9. Changing the font color in the editor.

Add graphics

To add an image to the template, first click inside a cell and then click Picture on the editor’s Main tab (Fig. 10.). Next, choose between:

  • Embedded picture (recommended) – click Choose file and upload a file from your device.
  • Online picture – enter the URL of the image in the provided box.

You can scale your image by using the options available in the Size section (as shown in Fig. 10., item 3). Use the Keep aspect ratio option if you want the height value to be resized automatically. Be sure to keep the width of the image the same or lower than the width of the cell that contains it (see Fig. 5.).

Adding an image to the signature template.
Fig. 10. Adding an image to the signature template.

In the Alternative text section (Fig. 10., item 4), you can add an alternative description to images (alt-text). It is recommended to do so, as this will make your pictures more accessible for people who use screen readers. It also comes in handy when some images in your signature cannot be displayed on recipient’s devices. Click OK to insert the image.

See also these best practices for using images in email signatures.

Add user photos from Microsoft 365

User photos stored in Azure AD can be easily added to the signature template by using the {Photo} placeholder. Just click inside a cell where you want the photo to appear, then click Placeholder > Message Sender > Photo on the Main tab of the editor (Fig. 11.). Adjust the size of the photo to fit the table cell. If you want to define a specific width, leave the default 0 pixels value in the Height field – this will always scale the photo correctly.

Click OK to insert the placeholder. It will be automatically replaced with email sender’s photo when the signature is added.

Adding user photos stored in Microsoft 365 to the signature template.
Fig. 11. Adding user photos stored in Microsoft 365 to the signature template.

Make sure all users have their photos in your organization’s Microsoft 365. You can use our free tool, CodeTwo User Photos for Office 365, to easily upload user photos in bulk and manage them from one place. Learn more

Add links

Click inside a table cell where you want to add a link or select an existing text in your signature template. Next, click Link on the Main tab (Fig. 12.). In the window that opens, type the Display text for the link and URL address. If you want to show additional text when you hover the mouse pointer above the link, type the Tooltip text as well. Click OK to insert the link into the template.

Adding a link to the signature template.
Fig. 12. Adding a link to the signature template.

To make any image added to the template clickable and link it to a specific website, select the image, click the Link button, and follow the same steps as shown in Fig. 12.

To change link styles or remove the default underline, click on any link and use the tools available in the Font group, as described in the Change font style and color section above. If you want to make changes to any link added to the template, simply click on the link and go to the editor’s Link tab (as shown in Fig. 13.). You’ll find all the options there.

Add link tracking parameters

You can add tracking parameters to links for analytics tools like Google Analytics, Woopra and Matomo. This option lets you measure traffic generated by email signatures (e.g. number of clicks on a marketing banner).

To do so, open the Insert link window (as shown in Fig. 12.) and click Show email tracking parameters. You can also click any link in your template (including an image linked to your website), go to the Link tab and click Tracking parameters (Fig. 13.). Next, select your tracking tool and fill in the necessary tracking parameters. Click OK to apply these parameters to your link.

Adding Google Analytics tacking parameters to a link used in the signature template.
Fig. 13. Adding Google Analytics tracking parameters to a link used in the signature template.

Learn more about integrating CodeTwo Email Signatures for Office 365 with different web analytics tools

Add social media buttons and a meeting link

You can easily insert social media buttons linked to your company’s or employees’ social media pages into your signature template. Click inside a table cell where you want to add the social media button and click the Social link button on the editor’s Main tab (Fig. 14.). Select the social media platform, for example Facebook, and enter the URL to the social profile or page. Use the Label and Picture settings to change the look of your social media link. Finally, click OK to add the link to the template.

Adding a social media button to the signature template.
Fig. 14. Adding a social media button to the signature template.

You can use placeholders to create personalized links to senders’ individual social media profiles. See this article to learn how to do that.

If you want to change the icon of any social media button or modify its size, click the button and use the tools available on the Picture tab, as shown in Fig. 15. To change the button’s URL, go to the Social link tab instead.

Modifying the size of a social media button.
Fig. 15. Modifying the size of a social media button.

Meeting links are added to the signature template in a similar way, but by using the Meeting link option on the editor's Main tab. Learn more about this feature

Add padding (spacing)

If some signature elements are placed too close to each other, add some spacing between them by using cell padding. For example, to add space between two table rows, click anywhere in the upper row, go to the Table layout tab and click Cell padding (Fig. 16.). In the window that opens, type the exact padding (space) value in the Bottom box and click OK. You can add vertical spacing between two columns in a similar way – just add cell padding to the left or right of the selected column.

Adding spacing between two table rows.
Fig. 16. Adding spacing between two table rows.

Tip

By using cell padding, you can set the exact space you want down to a single pixel. Other methods to add space, for example using the Space, Tab or Enter keys, are less reliable – your signature may end up looking different on various email apps or devices.

If you want to change line spacing inside a paragraph, select your text, go to the Formatting tab and enter the spacing value in the Line spacing box (as shown in Fig. 17.). See this section of the article to learn how to change line spacing for a table cell that has no paragraph in it.

Additional spacing settings available for paragraphs.
Fig. 17. Additional spacing settings available for paragraphs.

Align data in cells and add cell borders

To align an image or text in a cell, select a single or multiple cells, go to the Table layout tab, and use the options available in the Alignment group (see Fig. 18).

To add a vertical or horizonal line between different sections of the signature, select a single or multiple cells in the editing pane and click Cell borders on the Table layout tab. Adjust the style, width and color of the line to your needs (a solid, 1 pixel line usually does the job, as shown in Fig. 18.). Click OK to apply the change.

Adding a horizontal line between two table rows.
Fig. 18. Adding a horizontal line between two table rows.

Preview email signature template

To preview your signature template without the table borders outlined in the editing pane, click Signature preview on the Main tab (Fig. 19., item 1). Use this view to decide if you need to add some additional spacing or make some final tweaks to your email signature.

The Email preview view also lets you check how the signature looks like when all placeholders are replaced with sender’s data. You can change the user whose signature you want to preview by clicking Select (Fig. 2., item 2) at the top of the window.

Previewing how your email signature will look in a real email conversation.
Fig. 19. Previewing how your email signature will look in a real email conversation.

Avoid blank spaces in email signatures

When your users don’t have all the necessary data filled in Azure AD, some placeholders will leave blank spaces in their email signatures, as shown in Fig. 20.

Blank space left in an email signature because of missing data in Azure AD.
Fig. 20. Blank space left in an email signature because of missing data in Azure AD.

To avoid that, you can:

  • Use the Remove empty placeholder feature to remove placeholders (as well as surrounding text or other elements) that cannot be replaced with sender’s data. Learn more about this feature
  • Use conditional placeholders to replace empty placeholders with other data. See this example to find out how to insert a generic phone number into a signature if an email sender has no phone number specified in Azure AD.
  • Update the missing data in your Azure AD. You can easily fill in the missing information for multiple users with the User attributes manager. Learn more about this free tool

Save and apply signature

Your signature template is now ready. Click Apply & Close in the editor to save your changes. Be also sure to save (publish) changes to the signature rule for which you created this template.

Best practices and additional tips

Custom fonts, web safe fonts and fallback fonts

It’s a good practice to use web safe fonts in email signatures. These are the fonts that are available on most devices and systems and include: Arial, Verdana, Helvetica, Tahoma, Trebuchet MS, Times New Roman, Georgia or Garamond. Fonts that are not available on or supported by the recipients' devices will not be displayed at all or might be replaced with other available fonts (which might alter the layout of your signature).

If you insist on using custom fonts that are not included in the editor, you need to define the font directly in the source HTML code of the signature template. Be sure to define fallback fonts, too. To do so:

  1. Switch to the source code view by clicking the HTML source button on the editor's Main tab.
  2. Find an element (e.g. a table cell <td>) whose font type you would like to change and find the font-family property for this element.
  3. Enter the name of your custom font in the first place after the colon, as shown in Fig. 21.
  4. The fonts defined in the second, third and subsequent places after the colon, separated by commas, are the fallback fonts. Be sure to include at least one web safe font there.

Defining a custom font and a fallback font in the signature's source HTML code.
Fig. 21. Defining a custom font and a fallback font in the signature's source HTML code.

Important

Emails cannot store custom fonts in their properties. That is why it is not possible to include a custom front in your email signature so that the font can be displayed on the recipient’s end.

Using images in email signatures

Here are some best practices for using images when designing a signature template:

  • It’s a good idea to embed images in signatures instead of using linked (online) images. That way, your recipients will always see them, without needing to click ‘Download images’ in their email app. Embedded images are added to emails as hidden attachments. Learn more about the pros and cons of using both types of images
  • Use PNG, JPG or GIF formats – they are supported across most popular platforms and have relatively small file sizes.
  • Use high-resolution images and scale them down to desired size by using the options available in the editor (see Fig. 10., item 3) to get the best quality. However, some email clients ignore the width and height values set for images, which means those images can appear in their original dimensions in replies and forwards.
  • Alternatively, use images with the exact size in which you want them to appear in the signature, but do not scale your images up. Making small images to look bigger will only make them look bad.

See also: How to fix common image-related problems in signatures

Quick access to settings through additional tabs in the editor

Some tabs in the editor are hidden and appear only when you click on a specific element in the editing pane. These tabs contain setting related to the selected element.

Here’s a list of all additional tabs, together with information on how to access them and what options they provide:

  • Table layout – shown when you click anywhere in a table. From here, you can add/remove table rows and columns, merge and split cells, change table column width, align elements in table cells, add cell padding, add cell and table borders, and change background color of a cell. See also Fig. 5.
  • Picture – shown when you click on an image in the editing pane. Use this tab to replace the image with a different one, change the image’s size and add alternative text. See also Fig. 15.
  • Link – shown when you click on a link in the editing pane. From here, you can change the link’s display text, URL address, tooltip text, test the link (open in another tab of your web browser), remove the link and add tracking parameters. See also Fig. 13.
  • Social link / Meeting link – shown when you click on a link added by using the Social link / Meeting link option. Similar to the Link tab, here you can change the link’s URL and label, test the link, and edit other properties. If you want to change the size of a social media button / meeting link label, go to the Picture tab instead.
  • Placeholder – shown when you click on a placeholder in the editing pane. You can access additional placeholder settings from this tab.
  • Formatting – shown when you click anywhere in a paragraph*. Here, you can add the top and bottom margin to the paragraph, change line spacing and toggle text wrapping on/off. See also Fig. 17.

* HTML paragraphs in tables

Paragraph elements (defined by the <p> & </p> tags) are rarely used in HTML tables. If you want to use some of the options that are available on the Formatting tab, but the tab doesn’t show when you select a text, here’s what you can do:

  • Instead of adding top/bottom margin, use cell padding, as described here.
  • To change line spacing between the lines of text in a specific table cell, open the HTML source code view, find the <td> element that corresponds to that cell, and add the following CSS style:
    <td style="line-height: 20px;">
    to set the line spacing of 20 pixels (Fig. 22.). You can use any numeric value (non-negative) and other units than px, e.g. pt or cm. You can also leave out the units:
    <td style="line-height: 1.5;">
    to set the line spacing of 1.5 line.

Avoid wrapping your text with <p> tags in a table to get access to the Formatting tab. This will only add unnecessary spacing and may break the layout of your signature on various devices or email apps. However, you might want to include the disclaimer text in a paragraph, as the disclaimer is at the bottom of your signature anyway.

Adding line spacing to a text in an HTML table cell.
Fig. 22. Adding line spacing to a text in an HTML table cell.

Editing source HTML code of the signature template

If you are familiar with HTML and CSS, you can use the HTML source code view to work directly with your signature’s source code. However, keep in mind that email signatures are not web sites, and the level of HTML and CSS support varies significantly between different email clients. Try to keep your signature template simple and avoid using CSS properties to make changes that you normally couldn’t make by only using the options that are available on the editor’s ribbon.

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