Craft the best PhD student email signature! [My secret weapon]

Email is the cornerstone of academic information exchange. Emails are used to reach out to potential collaborators, purchase equipment for your PhD, and communicate with other PhD students and academics. It is so important that your PhD student email signature contains all the important information in an easy-to-read layout.

The best PhD student email signature includes your full name, current position, the name of your University, Department or research group, email address, your academic credentials, and should include extras like a simple tagline so people know what you do.

Many excellent PhD student email signatures also contain very simple design features that allow the reader to easily pick out the most important information about you. Including columns, icons, punctuation and symbols.

Your email signature can include a photo, logo of the University, and links to other multimedia that builds credibility and trust with the receiver of your email.

This article will go over everything you need to know about crafting the absolute best PhD student email signature possible and will include my secret hack for ensuring you leave the best and most impactful impression.

Key elements for your PhD student email signature

There are many key elements to a successful PhD student email signature.

Obviously, we have all heard of having to include your full name, but have you considered what else you can put into your email signature?

In the table below, we will go through all the most important elements that should be included in your email signature.

Make sure you have everything on this list:

Full nameOne of the most important aspects of your email signature. With an increasingly international academic workforce, this ensures people know how to spell your name and your preferences for how people are to refer to you.
Current positionUse the simplest way to describe your current role. It is most likely going to be “PhD student”, “PhD candidate”, “postgraduate student”, or some other variation of this. Use whichever you feel most comfortable with. You can also extend this to include your field of research. For example, “PhD student in chemistry”
University name, Department, or research groupIt is important that you include the name of your university for credibility reasons. You can also choose to include your faculty or the research group under which you are performing your research.
Contact informationIt is important that you include contact information and hyperlinks to that information. You can include your email address, social media information (professional only for example LinkedIn), office phone number, or any way that you prefer to be professionally contacted.
LogoIt is very common for people to include the logo of the University in their email signature.
Preferred pronouns (optional)It is increasingly common for people to include their preferred pronouns. For example, he/him, she/her, they/them et cetera.
Academic linksThere are many online aggregators that give you the ability to share your academic profile. You can include your ORCID ID, links to research gate or Google scholar.

If your university has a style guide for your email signature, consider using this as a starting point for your own.

Using the University’s brand colours and logos will help you remain congruent with your colleagues and the brand of the University in which you are performing your studies.

Design of your PhD student email signature

The design of your email signature should be kept as simple as possible.

Before using any colours first you must consider the layout of your email signature.

The easiest thing to do is to list your details one after another on separate lines. Using simple symbols and punctuation can help people navigate your email signature easily.

For example, you can use ‘|’ to separate information in your email signature.

Here is an example of a very simple email signature that you can build from:

Andy Stapleton, MChem

PhD Student | Department of Physical Sciences | Flinders University

email: [email protected] | tel: +61 8 82017978 | ORCID ID | LinkedIn

This is a really simple way of providing a quick summary of your academic research and contact information.

Also, using columns and colours can start to draw your eye to the important components of your PhD student email signature.

Canva

One great resource for email signature design is Canva.

You can browse many options until you find one that stands out to you:

And the best thing is that you can do this completely free!

Examples of PhD student email signatures

Here are some excellent examples of various email signatures that can be used to inspire yours.

You will notice that the examples of PhD student email signatures use design to highlight the most important information.

Arguably, the most important information about you includes your name and where you can be contacted. These are the most important components of every email signature.

However, there is something that not a lot of email signatures use but can really help encourage people to want to know more about your work.

Let’s talk about my secret weapon of adding a simple tagline to your PhD student email signature so that you can maximise the impact of your email signature.

My secret weapon: adding a simple tagline

The formula for creating the perfect PhD student email signature tagline include answering these simple questions and then putting them all together.

The reason it is important to include a simple tagline is because a person’s field of study does not necessarily give anyone an idea of what skills they are building and what the significance of the research really is.

The formula for crafting your tagline is as follows:

who you help + what you help them achieve + how you do it

Let’s talk about each of the components.

1.      Who do you help

Firstly, most people are doing research to help make the world a better place. You may be helping industry, a certain field, or even performing blue sky research.

Examples of who you can help:

  • industry – Helping the energy industry, helping the medical industry et cetera
  • field or people – helping doctors, helping cancer patients, helping students, helping parents et cetera
  • blue sky examples – helping the world, helping science, helping save people from…

Including this as your first part of your tagline means people know exactly who your research benefits the most.

2.      What do you help them achieve

Secondly, you need to include what you help people achieve. This can be what the outcomes of your research will be, and allows people to understand why they should care about your research

Examples include:

  • … Create a renewable fuel…
  • … Understand the processes of the human body…
  • … Making solar panels cheaper…
  • … Making health care more affordable…
  • … Increasing the survivability of brain cancer…

Including this second part in your tagline will allow people to understand the true outcomes of your PhD research.

3.      How do you do it

Lastly, you will need to include how you do your research. This will provide someone with an insight into your expertise and your skill base.

Examples include:

  • … Using custom fibre optics.
  • … Using atomic force microscopy.
  • … By synthesising new cancer-fighting molecules.
  • … Crafting solar paints and inks.

This is an important part to allow people to understand what skills you are likely to gain through your PhD and, whether or not your specific skill set will be something that they will want to approach about four collaborations or further information.

Putting it all together

Placing the three components of the email tagline together means you get examples such as:

  • helping the health industry improve patient monitoring using advanced fibre optics
  • helping the energy market deliver cheap hydrogen fuel with new catalysts
  • helping the solar industry produce more cost-efficient solar cells using solar paint
  • Uncovering the most efficient ways to manufacture drugs with flow chemistry

Include this in your PhD student email signature and I guarantee your recipient will understand much more about how you can be valuable to them. It increases the likelihood of them reaching out to you and asking for further information about your PhD and skills.

My very simple email signature could look something like this:

Dr Andy Stapleton MChem, PhD

PhD Student | Department of Physical Sciences | Flinders University

Producing cost-effective solar cells using nanotechnology and solar paint.

email: [email protected] | tel: +61 8 82017978 | ORCID ID | LinkedIn

Purpose of a PhD email signature

After crafting your PhD email signature you should ask yourself whether or not your PhD email signature is providing the intended outcome.

Is it simple enough to scan? Does it establish trust in the receiver? Are they able to understand what you do? And does it provide them with enough information to contact you on a number of platforms?

The purpose of an email signature should be to help facilitate the conversation and here are all of the outcomes that you want your PhD student email signature to achieve.

Identify yourself

Obviously, the first thing that a PhD student email signature should achieve is identifying who is sending the email.

Make sure that your name is one of the most obvious things on the email signature. You can do this by bolding the font or by using an accent colour.

Establish trust

Establishing trust in the person sending the email is another very important aspect of a great email signature.

In one glance someone should be able to see the university that you are affiliated with, your expertise, and any supporting information such as your ORCID ID.

Also, if someone was to forward on your email to someone else you want them to be able to see that you have the appropriate credentials to be someone to listen to.

Making sure that you follow any guidelines from your university’s style guide is also an important way of providing a congruent email signature with your colleagues.

Consider using the same colours as outlined in your university style guide to help you match your email signature with the brand of the University you are currently studying at.

Provide contact information

Another important purpose of a PhD student email signature is to provide contact information for further discussion.

Sometimes people like to take their conversations on to other platforms so considering putting in other professional social media such as LinkedIn or research gate.

Do not place the full links in your email signature.

The best way to include your contact information is to embed an icon into the signature and hyperlink to the appropriate platform.

Alternatively, you can use a simple word with a hyperlink. In your email hyperlink using “mailto:” before your email address will allow them to immediately send you an email. For example, mailto:[email protected] as the hyperlink.

Another thing to consider is including a link to a one-page website about your research. Producing a personal academic website is very easy and can be done in as little as an afternoon. Alternatively, you can link to your groups/supervisors/department’s best web page or site.

A personal academic website is a perfect way to provide a short summary of your work and your publications, outputs, and expertise so that it is in one place and easy to find.

Encourage them to find out more about you

adding the tagline will encourage people to want to find out more about you and your research.

One of the missed opportunities of a PhD students email signature is providing the recipient with a short summary of your research.

Using the tagline mentioned above, you will be able to encourage curious recipients of your email to dig deeper into you and your expertise.  

This a fantastic way to start building your personal brand.

Provide simple links

An email signature is a perfect place to put any links to your academic achievements or expertise.

Do not overwhelm your recipient with too many links. Alternatively, you can use a link aggregated service such as linktree for a single button in your email signature that takes them to all of the links to find out more about you.

Wrapping up

This article has covered everything you need to know about producing the perfect PhD student email signature to inform the recipient of who you are, build trust, and spark curiosity in finding a little bit more about who you are.

Simple is always better when producing an email signature and simple colours with icons that link to various social media or contact information is, currently, one of the cleanest and nicest ways to include all the information you need in a PhD student email signature.

Be sure to include a very simple sentence tagline to boost the click-through rates of your links and provide the recipient with the perfect simple summary of exactly what you do. It’s one of the most underutilised opportunities for growing your personal and professional academic brand.