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Email etiquette tips for writing subject lines

Posted Monday December 5th, 2011, 12:05 pm by Dr Monica Seeley

The volume of email traffic is steadily growing despite those who think email is in decline.  Many people now receive between 60 to 100 emails per day.  How can you ensure that the recipient sees and deals with your email? Good email etiquette is the key.

Here is what constitutes poor email etiquette and will ensure your email sinks to the bottom of the other person’s inbox!

  1. Adding a priority marker.  For most people that red exclamation mark is often a big turn off: it smacks of pulling rank.
  2. No subject line
  3. Using the same subject line even though the content has changed
  4. A subject lines that doesn’t match the content.

Excellent email etiquette in the form of a clear concise and meaningful subject line is the best way.  Here are a couple of examples from my book ‘Brilliant Email‘ .

Subject line

Writing compelling subject lines has always been critical.   Points to note about these two examples are:

  • The action required by the recipient.
  • By when the action is needed.
  • Exactly what the email is about.

Think of the subject line as the newspaper headlines.  What your say in subject line will either draw in the recipient or cause them to skip on to the next email.

Email best practice for subject lines includes trying to say it in the subject line.  For example, ‘Meeting moved to Room 101 – EOM’.  EOM means End of Message.  That saves everyone time. The recipient doesn’t need to open the email and you do not need to spend time deploying good email etiquette to write the body of the email.  Tesco recently had just such an email best practice campaign to help their employees save time.

This weeks tips and hints will focus on writing brilliant eye catching email subject lines.

Need some more help?  You can always either come on one of our Brilliant Email Master Classes or buy the book.

Meanwhile I’d love to hear from you what annoys you about how people write their subject lines and what tips can you offer to help them.

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