I looked online for advice, and the best thing Google has to offer to fix this is the "Signature Tweaks" lab, which "Places your signature before the quoted text in a reply, and removes the "--" line that appears before signatures."
However, unfortunately, this doesn't work for me, because it only applies to a programmed signature, the kind that that you see at the end of professional emails, perhaps with a company slogan, phone number, or web site address. I have my signature block turned off and enter my signature manually, so the signature tweaks lab doesn't apply to me.
I'm talking about Gmail hiding my plain old name. Whether I type it as my name, an initial, or a nickname, it somehow knows. "HA!" it says, "I'm going to gobble up that word, and turn it gray, and hide it under a gray ellipsis so that hardly anyone will ever see it or know it was ever there."
This is not the only trimming that Gmail does. When I recently moved, I sent my family a quick email containing my new mailing address. This was useful, never-before-seen content to them, so it would have made sense for Gmail to deliver the email properly and display the information I sent. Not so fast. This is what happened to the email:
Now granted, you can mouse over the little gray box and click on it to "Show trimmed content."
When you do, the censored material comes up.
I do not like that. I do not appreciate Gmail forcing me to do it this way. I am not happy that they have offered no solution to the problem. People on Google message boards have been complaining about this problem for more than two years, and no fix has been offered. The default procedure should be to show your signature, and from there people should be able to choose whether or not to turn it off.
Why I don't like my signature to be trimmed
1) The proper form of a letter includes a salutation at the beginning and a closing signature at the end. In this age of texting, chats, and IM correspondence, we have dismissed all courtesy forms and we simply say what we want to say to each other without any preliminaries. Excuse me, but the letters I send out by email are NOT text messages. They are not facebook posts. They are personal correspondence, and they still benefit from the grace and dignity of a traditional salutation and signature.
2) Hiding the signature is a subtle way of hinting that it's useless to put it there in the first place, since no one is ever going to see it anyway. Therefore it is not merely a passive thing--it's an active one, chipping away at our habits, ever-so-gently training the entire Gmail population to drop this custom, and contributing to the massive dumbing-down of our already-illiterate society.
3) I find it rude to receive an unsigned letter, and it is appalling to discover too late that I committed the error myself through no fault of my own. The censor's shears neatly snipped that one word, "Rebekah," off the bottom, put it into a little gray box, and left the message with an absurd-looking "Sincerely," dangling in solitude at the end of the letter.
What you can do about it
It appears that Gmail is not about to fix this problem anytime soon. Petitions and complaints have been appearing on Google message boards for at least two years, and it hasn't done any good.
Here is a collection of ideas that you can use to preserve your signature from the sneaky gray shears.
Important note: Repetition is death. If you use any of these more than a few times in a row, Google will learn and begin to trim it, too. So keep it varied, and you'll be safe. The key to preserving your signature is for the part AFTER your signature to look to Google's robots like something important and unique (because to them, your name is neither).
Best Idea by Anonymous Commenter on June 11, 2014:
- Write a line of unique text after your signature.
- Save a P.S. for the end. (Note: If you actually prefix your P.S. with the letters P.S., gmail will still turn your name gray but not hide it completely. If you do not use the letters P.S., gmail does not recognize your name to turn it gray.)
- List and describe your attachments.
- Say something funny.
- Put in an inspirational quote
- Decorate the line after your name with special characters. Here are a few ideas:
~ • ~ • ~ • ~
~ • ~ ♥ ~ • ~
♦ • ♦ • ♦
■ ♦ ■ ♦ ■
- Make up your own patterns with the ALT key and the numbers on the numeric keypad.
Alt + 1 = ☺
Alt + 2 = ☻
Alt + 3 = ♥
Alt + 4 = ♦
Alt + 5 = ♣
Alt + 6 = ♠
Alt + 7 = •
Alt + 8 = ◘
Alt + 9 = ○
Alt + 10 = ◙
Alt + 13 = ♪
Alt + 14 = ♫
Alt + 15 = ☼
Alt + 176 = ░
Alt + 177 = ▒
Alt + 178 = ▓
Alt + 254 = ■
- A discreet way to do it is to just hit enter a couple of times and add one period at the very bottom of the message.
- Another discreet way to do it is to add some text at the bottom and color it white. (It will be visible to the recipient if he makes a selection over that portion of the message, though, so say something decent.)
- User dougwoodrow on this page offered the good idea of inserting the current time stamp at the end of every email. "[15:02:21 29/01/2013] End of message."
Now for the next step...
Tricking Gmail out of trimming all your FRIENDS' signatures
So far my only idea for this is that all my friends follow one or more of the suggestions above when they write their emails. Any other suggestions?