News and information useful to Cleveland-Marshall College of Law students, faculty and staff.

Archive for January 10th, 2013

Email Closings: Not as Simple as they Seem

emailAll of us write countless emails each year. According to The Atlantic, the average person actually writes the equivalent of a short novel in emails during that time period. Because of the sheer quantity of emails most people send, it makes sense that time and effort should be devoted to developing proper electronic communication skills.

A recent article on  focused on one particular aspect of email communication – the valediction or closing. It discussed the dos and don’ts of email closings. Substituting a formal “Sincerely” or “Best” with “xoxo” was one of these don’ts. Believe it or not, it is pretty common for people to sign emails with hugs and kisses even in the professional world. In my opinion, it seems that the prevalence of using such an emotional valediction stems from believing that your colleagues are friends first and coworkers second.

While it seems that many people would recognize that including “xoxo” in an email is inappropriate, there are many aspects of email signature lines that are not so clear cut. For example, there is a great deal of disagreement over how much or how little should be included in a signature line. Should you try to limit your signature to three lines or should you include a link to every one of your websites in addition to all of your contact information? What types of things are useful additions to a signature? An article from The Economist focuses particularly on the use of legal disclaimers in signatures. It concludes that they should be removed because they have no binding legal force and sometimes distract readers.  As discussed on, lines such as “Please consider the environment before printing” and “Sent from my iPhone” are also often seen as overloading emails with additional unessential content.  Despite these attacks on many standard signature line conventions, if you sincerely do believe in the sentiment your line conveys go ahead and keep using it. Just be ready for some people to be put off by this added information.

Finally, remember that in some cases a signature line is simply not required. Reiterating all of your contact information is not necessary for routine inter-office responses and correspondence with friends. Save yourself a headache on these emails and just leave out the signature.

For more information on the correct usage of email in the legal discipline, check out the following books:

  1. Maximize your Lawyer Potential : Professionalism and Business Etiquette for Law Students and Lawyers  [KF319 .M37 2009]
  2. The Lawyer’s Guide to Marketing on the Internet [KF316.5 .S57 2007]
  3. Writing and drafting in legal practice [OhioLink]