Communication Skills Tip 7 – Subject Lines Part 1

On the Subject of Subject Lines – PART 1

The Subject Line may be the most important part of your e-mail. Subject Lines should introduce the topic of your e-mail in a way that gets people to read your message.

For example, e-mails with the following Subject Lines would probably go unread:

* FYI

* You gotta see this!

* What do you think?

* Forward this to everyone you know

* This is interesting

Subject Lines should meet the following standards:

* Create interest

* Focus attention on a specific topic

* Stand out so they can easily be found for future reference

The most important thing you can do for your readers is save them time.

Sometimes that means spending some of your time to give them information in ways they want or need it.

To ensure your Subject Lines are clear, concise and appropriate, consider the following suggestions:

1. Avoid hitting the “Reply” or “Forward” button when your purpose is to ask a new question or introduce a new subject.

The Reply and Forward buttons carry the old Subject Line and can confuse or frustrate your readers.

2. Create a new e-mail with a new Subject Line for a new topic or delete the original Subject Line and replace it with a new one.

This may take you more time. However, doing so will help the readers and will increase your chances of getting better results. Most e-mail systems carry default settings that allow you to include the original sender’s message when you hit “Reply” or “Forward”.

This capability, called ‘threading, can be good news or bad news.

We will discuss “threading” in On the Subject of Subject Lines – PART 2.

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