One-Letter Initial in Your Email? Please Don’t.


You sir or ma’am are a nobody, that is, according to your last email. The email you sent had your full first name on it – your first name spelled out correctly. It wasn’t a one-letter initial.

So, you made a drastic change and became somebody in your latest email. You signed off with just one letter and a period, and it wasn’t a typo. You did that shit on purpose.

Some people have ascended to the land of the one-letter initial, and then there are the rest of us. The schlubs that take the time to spell out “Joan” or “Richard” or “Meredith.”

I mean, for sure, we can’t all be one-letter signees. Otherwise, no one would know who the f*ck anyone was, and folks would clamor back to the new cachet of spelling out their name correctly.  

Is there even a discernible point in one’s career where one switches away from writing a full name in official correspondence to just plopping the initial to their first name? (Let me know in the comments).

And what do people with two-letter names do? Have they still made it when they drop that one measly letter and go big time at the end of their correspondences? Do some folks miss the grandiosity of the one letter sign-off and think “Ed” just misspelled his own name?

One letter signees may disagree, but I see them similarly to the folks who load up their automatic email signature with overweighted titles or floral arrangements. 


Nothing caps off an email like a salesman propositioning himself as a “Customer Influence Advocate.” Or a floral splotch that makes the bottom of the email look like a digital wake. BTW my condolences, Betsy.

But, que sera sera, amirite?


There are instances in your life where everything changes. The instant you become married and are forever, at least until death or lawyers are called in, a member of a team, a union. You are wed-locked AF. No more singular decisions for you, which includes, painfully, dinner decisions (what do you want to eat? I dunno, what do you want?  ). 

You cannot decide that tonight’s dinner will be a microwave pizza and grocery store sushi when you are married. And wandering off to your room to self-gratify is entirely out. You’re married; there are rules.

There’s the instance when you are driving your beat-up car, for whatever reason, to a patch of grass where it is sorta’ left to become a foundation for an above sea-level coral reef. Or if you put stock in the mounting scientific evidence of spiraling global temperatures and rising seas, actual foundations for new ocean reefs. 


The instant you stop breathing, your life drastically changes from life to well, a trip into nothingness-infinity. I often wonder about the penultimate last breath; why take that breath if the next one won’t be there? Could one choose, like well shit, the upcoming breath is suspect, so I’ll just skip this one, too?

And of course, the moment your email changes from displaying the name your mother gave you to the first letter of the name your mother gave you.



I remember the first time I was introduced to the concept. I was in college and still using the software system “Kermit” to access emails. Every time I accessed my email, I would hear that famous amphibian’s “Hi-Ho!” in the back of my mind.

It was the twilight of my senior year of matriculation at Norwich University, days before spring-break, where I would be heading out to Los Angeles on a job hunt. I wanted to work in television. And Norwich University had a bit of an in with Sony Pictures Studios in Culver City, California.


Several recent Norwich grads were making a name for themselves out west at Sony. A good friend and I were hoping to catch our break with the company as well. 

Naïve visions of befriending Adam Sandler and driving expensive cars danced about our stupid-heads. 

Also, I was a ridiculously big fan of Sony CD-players. Think of an iPhone enthusiast visiting an Apple Store in the aughts; it was sorta’ like that for me. 

I think I even said that to a few of the staff-folks when I got out there. “I’m a big fan of your CD Players” har-har motion picture workers. 

Where was I? Oh yes, there was a Vice President at Sony Pictures Studios that was an alum from our school, so I figured he was the key to our big break. So, we started hounding him with emails. Can we have a studio tour? Could we, like, shadow you for an hour? 

He finally responded with a tiny email saying we were free to stop by the studio for a visit. And he ended the correspondence with “M.” 


After the excitement of seemingly getting a foot in the door with Sony wore off, we were like, WTF is up with the “M?”

Quick backstory in my backstory, the same VP had visited with our class during an alumni weekend in 98 to speak about the changing state of communications and media, which was very cool of him.

But, and I remember this explicitly, he had lamented that “us kids” were destroying the written word through email and other internet communications. Kids were turning writing correspondence online into a land sans punctuation and laden with abbreviations. Which, he was way more prophetic than I would’ve guessed at the time. 

But the irony that this was from a dude that signed off as “M?!”

Okay, so I’m pretty sure he was lamenting the destruction of the written word, but maybe my mind is tricking me so I can make this memory in a memory out to be super-ironic. Perhaps he was chill with the oncoming destruction of what we had all accepted as proper written communication. 

Either way, I feel like including this backstory in a backstory because geez, he was undoubtedly spot-on about it. What with email and digital correspondence rules becoming elastic outside of learning institutions.  


Getting back to “M’s” email, which had opened the door to our visiting Sony. 

At first, I thought his email’s brevity was the reason for signing off as just a letter from the alphabet. Or possibly that people from the Left Coast were just weird, and that’s what they all did…Californians… 

“I think that’s supposed to be his name,” my buddy said.  

“Seriously? Who does that shit?” that was me. I was all like, this is some seriously imperious behavior and not a very good way to be remembered. 

Imagine if Darth Vader had finished off all his emails with “D.” Darth’s name would be far less insidious, and he might be confused for Raj’s sister on “What’s Happening!!”

My buddy promised he would start finishing off all his “M” correspondences with his very own one-letter initial.

And in the end, we never got to meet one-letter initial, VP. Or “MVP” as we scornfully referred to the dude after returning from Los Angeles. 

And perhaps it was because we were really unimportant people in the land of vital people. I’m more convinced it was all of the emails my buddy wrote with a suddenly mocking one-letter initial.

Long story short, I don’t even remember the VP’s full name. He’s just forever, “M.” in my mind. It wasn’t like that dude I met in college whose name is, no lie, Richard Munch. Now there is a name you wouldn’t ever forget. I met the dude just once, and his name is frequently on the tip of my brain.


It could certainly be that “M’s” ghosting us was why I don’t recall much about him outside of his one-letter initial. 

Talk about unimpactful. Being wholly forgettable is a danger any one-letter signee could face in the professional world.

And while I didn’t get that big job in Studio City, the trip wasn’t a total loss. I did eat at the third Cheesecake Factory ever (Redondo, holler)!  

It was 1999, so right around the time, the Cheesecake Factory was invading malls of note across the United States. And lines and lines of restaurant pager wielding customers waiting for tables would soon follow. 

Think about it; this was before the smartphone era, so no Candy Crush or Flappy Bird. You waited for a Cheesecake table, forced to talk to the people around you, or stand there swaying back and forth like a dumb ass. I’m sure plenty of blind dates ended before anyone actually got a seat.

That Spring Break, I also got to eat at the short-lived Marvel Comics-themed restaurant. Our servers were Captain America and Spider-Woman (the Julia Carpenter Spider-Womannot alternate universe Gwen). 

I ordered the Hulk burger, which was massive. And as far as my 24-year-old fanboy brain could tell, this was the best I would ever get of live-action Marvel Comics entertainment (and yes, I was counting the Dolf Lundgren, Punisher, and unauthorized copies of the Fantastic Four).

Oh! And I saw a taping of the King of Queens, which was at times fun, boring, and illuminating in a this must be what hostages go through, way. We were locked down in a studio for like 3 hours and not allowed to leave or use the bathroom.

So…Not a total loss, “M.”  


“That took a long time to manifest,” would be how my buddy Francis would rib me over the meandering story above. In other words, sorry for the glacial tangent on my Los Angeles non-job getting trip.

But, if you want to be remembered more thoroughly in the annals of history or at the very least cubicle-lore, my suggestion would be to use your name’s proper spelling. And I feel like history backs me on this.

One of the most notable signees of all time is John Hancock, and what the hell did he do but have a giant goddamn signature? 

one letter signature declaration of independence

After 200 years, that famous Masshole has countless placesa friggin’ destroyer, and a big-shiny building in Boston, named after him. All stemming arguably from the gigantic swoops of his quill. I mean, sure, he did other stuff for the young-United States, yet I’ve read a bunch of history, and I couldn’t name shit outside of furiously wiggling a feather-ended writing implement.

And his name is a synonym for (full) signatures. All stemming from having the most ginormous one in the United States circa 1776. Which may or may not have been to essentially give King George the signature-equivalent of the middle finger.

That would not have been the case had John Hancock just signed off as “J.” King George may have readjusted his spectacles and been like, “why the hell did John Jay sign this shit?! To hell with that dude, send all the Hessians.”

So this should serve as a warning to any of you that sign-off a company missive with a “P,” “H,” “A,” “R,” or “T.” Don’t incur the wrath of long-dead kings who could hex you with the phantoms of armed Hessians that wander New Jersey with shit-else to do.


There really is but one individual I can think of with the right to one-letter sign-off his emails, and that’s Zorro. 

It’d take way too long for him to sword-spell out “Zorro” in an email and would be literally murder for the IT department to deal with. 

“Z” is a pretty killer way to sign off of on an email; maybe I could give y’all a pass.

Do you sign off with one letter? What made you want to do that shit, and can you remember when and why you made the switch? I have to know everything about that, let me know below.

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