Next in the E-mail Etiquette for the 21st Century series is Writing An Appropriate Subject.
Because many e-mail users are already busy people, they don’t have the time to guess at what your e-mail may or may not be about.
If the recipient doesn’t know why you’re writing, your message may be deferred while they read the messages that seem more important by their subject.
There are two points to remember when creating an e-mail subject:
- Keep it short
- Keep it descriptive
Keep It Short
There is only so much room for the subject in any e-mail program. Long subjects will get cut off and may lose their core meanings.
The subject in the screenshot reads “You Are Invited To Try CustomScoop Personal Edition!”
Though it’s clear the e-mail is an invitation to try CustomScoop, the subject could have been written “CustomScoop Personal Edition Invitation” and would not have lost any meaning while fitting in the subject’s allotted area.
Try to keep your subject 10 words or less; Ideally, you should use as few words as possible to convey your message.
Keep It Descriptive
Next, you’ll want to make sure your recipient knows what to expect when they open your message.
Avoid using the words Urgent, Important, etc. and use a descriptive subject. Let the recipient decide whether or not it’s truly urgent or important.
Example: Important – Check The E-mail For Details About Aunt Patty’s Dinner Party
The subject above is too long and fails to tell the recipient why it’s important.
Chances are, a message with that subject will have found its way to the spam folder and deleted before the recipient even has a chance to view it.
Something acceptable would be “Aunt Patty’s Dinner Party Cancelled” — if the recipient was preparing for the dinner party, they’d most likely consider a cancellation important and will know to check the e-mail for details.
And if the topic of the e-mail changes during correspondence, the subject should also change with it. The subject should always tell the recipient what they’ll be reading once they open the e-mail message. This can be a huge time saver all around.