Email Etiquette: Improve Your Subject Line

When we’re showing people how to get things done, we try to encourage them to use better email etiquette. We’ve asked hundreds of people that we’ve worked with for their email pet peeves and have found one of the biggest sources of annoyance is bad use of the 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? Imagine they are opening it on a blackberry and only see the subject line. Start your email subject line with one of the following words so that the recipient knows immediately what the email is about:

– Action requested
– Two 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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Sign up for one of our Email Etiquette workshops

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Email Etiquette: 101 Email Etiquette Tips 


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