We have been using email as a communication media since the very early days and still find it probably the most useful messaging tool. In those pioneering times when only pockets of users were connected, in the company I worked then, only Marketing and R & D departments in London and Los Angeles were linked, but it revolutionised our working practice. At that time messages were much more casually written and more friendly, even amusing it seems in retrospect in a time before the legal boys wised up and started adding disclaimers. We didn't really expect the content to be formal as would be the case for official letters which then were still being dictated to an army of secretaries to transcribe. People were now writing their own content complete with spelling errors and absence of punctuation. But know what - we didn't care. Not only did we get the information we needed quickly, but we tuned in to the personality of the individuals and it did a whole lot of good for collaborative working for people in different locations and time zones. And once we had dealt with the message it was trashed along with any record of political incorrectness or corporate transgressions.
But once the wider business community embraced emails the geeky stuff got replaced by formal content and the signature kind of became excessively loaded with dire legal warnings. The emails didn't go in the trash can any more, they were filed for all time and instead of speaking to the guy at the next desk an email with appropriate audit trail is sent. Forwarded emails are worse because each time it is sent another great load of signature stuff gets stuck in between. Of course there are still some folks that haven't figured out it is customisable and leave in the default - 'sent from my iPad' - promoting Apple rather than their own company. Personally I favour sticking to contact details plus maybe a tagline or reference to a current promotion or exhibition the company is at - but short and to the point. I find the 'do you need to print this?' message a bit patronising, but nothing is as bad as the full legal sign off. I will conclude with this example - say no more. Names and addresses are removed to protect the creators.
"Thank you, for contacting our Enquiries Team at XXX College.
We hope to process your enquiry and where appropriate respond to your request within the next 48 hours.
The Enquiries Team
for the individual(s) named. If you are not the named addressee youshould not disseminate, distribute, print or copy this e-mail. Pleasenotify the sender immediately by e-mail if you have received this e-mailby mistake and delete this e-mail from your system. E-mail transmissioncannot be guaranteed to be secure or error-free as information could beintercepted, corrupted, lost, destroyed, arrive late or incomplete, orcontain viruses. The sender therefore does not accept liability for anyerrors or omissions in the contents of this message, which arise as aresult of e-mail transmission. Please note that any views or opinionspresented in this email are solely those of the author and do notnecessarily represent those of XXX. Finally, the recipient should checkthis email and any attachments for the presence of viruses. Althoughthis email and its attachments are believed to be free of any virus orother defects which might affect any computer or IT system into whichthey are received, no responsibility is accepted by XXX or any of itsassociated companies for any loss or damage arising in any way from thereceipt or use thereof.
XXX is the trading name of XXX College Corporation incorporatedunder the Further and Higher Education Act for the provision ofeducation to students, whose trading divisions are XXX College andYYY College and whose registered office is at ................................
XXX works nationally to meet diverse education and training needs inpartnership with its subsidiary companies:
The AAA Group Limited is a private limited company registered inEngland and Wales with registration number 0000000 whose registeredoffice is at ..................................
BBB is: a company limited by guarantee with registrationnumber 0000000; a charity registered in England and Wales withregistration number 00000; a charity registered in Scotland withregistration number 000000. The registered office of ....................................