Email Etiquette: Subject Lines

E-mails are the most common form of communication in business. They are our daily record of the tasks at hand.  We open them, read them, save them, flag them, delete them, etc. all day long. 

They’re essential for record keeping. They keep everyone on the same page.  E-mails are little encyclopedias that you can refer back to when you’re having “one of those days” and can’t remember what is what. They’re pretty important, which is why they should be organized—every detail counts, including the Subject Line.

The “Subject Line” is quite possibly the most important facet of the e-mail. It helps us all search and organize via the topic of discussion. As such, it’s important to remember to take the time to update the subject line to ensure accurate record keeping. If the topic changes mid e-mail stream, take the time to revisit the subject line to reflect the new topic.  That way, all pertinent information related to the new topic is accurately tracked and documented.

Establish a “Naming Convention”. For example, when discussing job ABC, you can create subject lines with the name of the job first, and the topic secondary and build upon based on the discussion. i.e.: ABC—Design Documents, ABC—Construction Documents, ABC—Electrical Information—Kibart’s Notes. That way, when you go to search for information about job ABC they will all appear and the topic will be easy to identify.

Keep it Simple. In addition to creating a “Naming Convention”, keep in mind that simplicity works the best. Think about when you use Google to search for something. You typically type in keywords. The same type of “search     strategy” should be considered when writing your subject line. Try to keep it “to the point”, and make it easy to digest.     Understand, the subject line is an “umbrella” to the specific information that can be found within the body of the e-mail.

Remember “New Topic, New Subject”. As the thread continues to build, try to remember that when the discussion switches, the subject line should reflect the new topic of discussion. This is a way to easily “file/note” the new information without having to search through long e-mail threads. It will keep everyone on the same page and help save time later.

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