A client asked me how to create a rich email signature that would be viewable by all recipients, no matter what. In particular, he wants his logo, complete with contact info, to show up and look as good as possible. Great idea - having invested in getting a nice logo done, you'll want to put it in front of your readers as often as you can.
Well, that turns out to be a tall order - some email readers can't read HTML email, for example, and some have HTML mail turned off by default (I'm told the new Blackberry client falls into this latter category).
So, given that we need to create something that works most of the time, and doesn't look completely foolish the rest of the time, I've suggested that we compromise by putting his contact information in text, and leave just the graphic part of the logo as an image.
That way, if the image disappears and the text loses its styling, at least the reader will have the basic info available.
This particular client uses Apple's Mail.app to send and receive mail (as do I these days, after a long romance with Eudora, a troubled relationship with Entourage, and flings with other more or less broken readers).
Given the sparsity of Apple's help files on this, I've hacked up a short instruction set with some screen shots, below. Many of these instructions will also work for, say, Entourage, though the details will differ a little.
I've started by assuming we have Mail already set up, with some existing accounts.
Creating a new Signature
Our first step is to go to Mail's Preferences, and find the tab for "Signatures".
You have the option to select a particular account for this signature, or select "All Accounts" to see all your signatures (you can add the new on e to particular accounts later). Adding a signature to an account makes it available when you're composing mail.
At the bottom of the second column (see above), click the little "+" to add a new signature. It'll be called "Signature#x" by default - we'll want to change it to something more meaningful, so that when it shows up in popup lists we'll know which one it is.
Above, I've renamed the signature "MyNewSignature" - not very useful, I'll admit. I've also started typing some information into the box at the right. I've started with my name and email address (the one for this account) - don't assume these will always be easy for your readers to pull out of your emails; some readers may appreciate not having to scroll all the way back to the top of an email to figure out who you are. Since this is plain text, it should appear more or less as shown in all readers.
Adding an image
To insert a logo or picture, just drag it from your desktop.
Note that all graphics should be in RGB color space. As for file formats, JPEG (.jpg) is the most bullet-proof, though .png is becoming more widely supported.
I recommend using bitmap formats rather than vector formats such as PDF here, because you've already rendered the art into pixels (if you don't understand this, don't worry - just use an RGB JPEG).
It's a good idea to keep both the display size (how big it looks on your screen) and the file size (how many bytes) as small as you can.
Above, we see one of Mail's little habits - it sometimes displays incoming graphics at the wrong aspect ratio. Just click away to another signature, then back to the new one…
and this should resolve itself:
Above, note that I've also typed in a web address (complete with the "http://" part, also known as the protocol specifier).
This will become clickable in most HTML email-friendly environments; your plain-text readers will have to copy and paste this address in order to use it.
The text in your signature can be styled just as any text in the body of your email can. These stylings will simply disappear in a plain-text environment (so remember to use other cues such as line breaks for separating content, rather than relying on only, say, italicization).
To style a passage of text, select the text and go to "Format->Show Fonts" (Cmd-T - above) to bring up the Font palette:
Here, I've made the text Helvetica Bold Italic. Just as with web pages, its better to pick fonts that are quite common (helvetica, Arial, Times, Lucida) to be sure your readers have them. If they don't have your chosen font, the choice of what to display instead is up to their mail reader, not you.
In a perfect world, all your readers will see something like this.
Assigning the Signature to an Account
If you've created your signature under the "All Accounts" listing, you'll want to pick particular accounts to make it available to (assuming you have more than one email account - don't we all?)
To do this, simply drag the signature's name in the middle column over the account's name in the left column. The account name will highlight briefly.
Applying a signature to an email
When composing a new email, just pick your desired signature from the popup list. Only the signatures assigned to that particular email account will appear in the list. This will keep you from using your work email with your personal signatures, and vice versa.