Email use the "Subject" field

I send and receive a lot of email. Over the last few weeks I've been gathering a powerful bunch of bug bears with email etiquette. I'll post a few over the coming days. So tip number#1 ...

Use the "Subject" field
Why don’t people use it? Generally it’s because they are lazy rather than rude. Email has a subject line for a reason. The subject line is there to give an indication or summary of what is contained in the email. This means that when the reader gives you email a cursory glance over their inbox they can know immediately what it’s about.

Avoid generalities in subject lines for example “stuff” or “things you wanted” or “Conference”. What “things” are you talking about? What “stuff”? What about the Conference? It could be flipping anything. People will have no idea what you are talking about. You need to be specific, for example “File for Conference” is better, or even “List of members for Conference”.

By adding a good well thought out subject line you are serving your fellow man not to mention helping with people who filter their email as it comes into their inbox.



Bron said... 8/29/2008 11:30 am  

Yeah, I agree!

It's particularly helpful for gmail users to be able to to search for specific emails.

Also, if you try to follow the Five Sentences policy, taking the time to write a good subject line can often help you communicate more effectively in the rest of the email.

Like in journalism where you write the intro first, it helps you to think:

- What's the real story here (ie, what's the key information I need to communicate?)

- And What's my angle (ie how am I going to communicate it?)

The Pook said... 9/01/2008 9:36 pm  

I have the opposite peeve. I hate it when someone, usually someone who doesn't often use email, ONLY uses the subject line. In fact writes an essay in the subject line. And you open the email and there is nothing there, and you spend the next five minutes trying to work out why there is nothing there before realising, no, it is displaying properly, there never was a message, just a subject line.

Laura said... 9/03/2008 11:56 am  

I'm having flashbacks to that meeting Q&A thing Mikey did on communicating with these young whipper-snappers... hilarious.

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