Outlook 2003 occasionally throws up error messages when a message contains a formatted signature. People who have scanned their handwritten signature or want to use a graphic are getting incongruous messages about security and ActiveX.

It appears to be a side effect of Outlook’s unusual relationship with Microsoft Word 2003. When you create a signature in Outlook and click on “Advanced Edit,” Outlook launches Microsoft Word to create a little HTML file. Unfortunately, Word does a terrible job with HTML and inserts all kinds of unnecessary codes; as security settings have changed in the last couple of years, something in those codes is generating security-related error messages.

There’s two things to try that have worked for some people. Each one requires setting up your signature from scratch, unfortunately.

  • Start in Outlook, click on Advanced Edit, and create your signature in Word. But when it’s time to save it, change the file type to “Web Page, Filtered” instead of “Web Page.”
  • It may also be possible to start in Word and create your signature from scratch. Highlight the signature in Word and click Edit / Copy. Then open Outlook, start a new signature, and paste in the signature WITHOUT opening the Advanced Edit window. (To paste, hit Ctrl-V.)
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