Email Etiquette: use your subject line

3/3/2013 |

When we’re showing people how to get things done, we try to encourage them to use better email etiquette.


A definite source of email annoyance is subject line.

It’s  usually an afterthought for most email users, yet bad subject lines hinder productivity. Learning to write good ones will help you to get the responses you need from your emails.


Crafting better subject lines will help you and others to manage the volume of emails more easily, and also increase the success of the responses you get back too


What are you saying? Start your email subject line with one of the following words so that the recipient knows immediately what the email is about (imagine they are opening it on a blackberry and only see the subject line!):

– action requested
– 2 minute action please
– for info / fyi
– question / q
– invitation
– important (but only if it truly is – don’t cry wolf!)

Start at the end… Before you launch into typing your email, pause. Work out what you need to say, and work out what the next action is: who needs to DO what as a result of this? if the answer is no-one, either be clear that this is just an email to communicate information, or figure out a better way of communicating it than email!

Write your subject line last… Life moves fast! Often, by the time we’ve finished writing an email, we’ve had that extra few seconds of thinking time, and made some progress about what we think needs to happen as a result of the email. If you write your subject lines at the end before you press send, rather than at the beginning before you’re really sure what to say, the subject line will be clearer, and more accurate.


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