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Surprise! Your Contact Info Isn’t There

Last week I taught a business writing class in New York City with seven individuals. I mentioned that one of my pet peeves (things that annoy me) in people's email is a lack of contact information. If no phone number appears in the message, I have to email back–even if a phone call would be faster and more productive.

All the people in the class could understand my pet peeve. They too wanted people's contact information in an email. That is why, they said, they always included their signature block, with their contact information, at the end of their emails.  

Surprise! I had paper copies of emails from all of them. Only two of the messages included phone numbers.

They were surprised. They had been certain their outgoing emails included their signature block. And that's the problem. Their email program was set up so that if they initiated an email, it included their signature block. But if they replied to an email, it did not. They had replied to me, so no signature block appeared.

In Outlook, if you can't see your email signature in your reply, it won't be part of your message. To add your signature to your replies, try Tools/Options/Mail Format, and include your signature under either "Signature for replies and forwards" or "Signature," depending on which version of Outlook you have.

Don't be surprised! Do this test: Reply to an email, and send a copy to yourself. Then you will know for sure whether your reply includes your contact information.

Syntax Training

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By Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

Lynn Gaertner-Johnston has helped thousands of employees and managers improve their business writing skills and confidence through her company, Syntax Training. In her corporate training career of more than 20 years, she has worked with executives, engineers, scientists, sales staff, and many other professionals, helping them get their messages across with clarity and tact.

A gifted teacher, Lynn has led writing classes at more than 100 companies and organizations such as MasterCard, Microsoft, Boeing, Nintendo, REI, AARP, Ledcor, and Kaiser Permanente. Near her home in Seattle, Washington, she has taught managerial communications in the MBA programs of the University of Washington and UW Bothell. She has created a communications course, Business Writing That Builds Relationships, and provides the curriculum at no cost to college instructors.

A recognized expert in business writing etiquette, Lynn has been quoted in "The Wall Street Journal," "The Atlantic," "Vanity Fair," and other media.

Lynn sharpened her business writing skills at the University of Notre Dame, where she earned a master's degree in communication, and at Bradley University, with a bachelor's degree in English.

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