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Subject The Subject Lines

Once I used to send emails without a subject line, and even if used, those subject lines were confusing, long and directionless. They were out of subjects! But they significantly improved when I started to apply with few easy effective email writing techniques. Now, my email subject lines look clear, directional and precise.  Let’s see how this happened!
First, a standard email subject line is a combination of the email’s keyword and the purpose. Eventually, a noun phrase is the desired outcome. The keyword is a hint of what the email is about i.e. the subject matter of the email. One or two words are sufficient for a keyword. After that, come the purpose or action words. It refers to what action the email’s reader is expected to take. For example, a tourist writing an email to a travel agent office to know the latest ticket offers for a certain destination will first use the phrase ‘tour package’ in the subject line. This is the keywords for this email context. Then to add more clarity, word ‘information’ can be added. After that, the purpose or action needs to be added.  For that, a word such as ‘needed’ or ‘required’ will do. Overall, the subject line will be ‘travel package information needed’. If the destination spot is added, it will be ‘Bangkok travel package information needed’. In short, a standard email subject line is a noun phrase that starts with a keyword/s followed by the purpose or action word.
Second, what about the reply emails? The good news is when it comes down to reply to an email, it is much easier. The reply button of the email interface will automatically take in the sender’s subject line along with Re such as ‘Re: travel package information needed’.
Third, a common strategy that every standard email subject line follows is the preciseness. For the subject line, forty to fifty characters or maximum six to seven words are ideal.
Fourth, all uppercase subject lines (i.e. FINAL REPORT) are not necessary.
Fifth, the word ‘urgent’, ‘confidential’,  or ‘Important’ can be added when essential. They fit well as a separate word at the beginning or the end of the subject line. Example: ‘Urgent! Meeting time changed’.
Some examples:
  • Soil test report needed by 18 June 2018
  • New printing procedure released
  • June campaign finalized
Following the above guidelines, write the subject lines for the following situations. Answers will be in the next week: 
  1. Email your new recruiting HR manager requesting a meeting time to submit your joining letter.
  2. Email your colleague working with you in the same project to get an update of office meeting you missed.
  3. Email your client about a product flyer sample to get urgent feedback.
  4. Email your senior office manager informing him of a project progress.
  5. Email your university friend informing him about a friends’ reunion.
Editor’s Note: Keep a close attention on our COMMUNICATION section to learn thoroughly about Business Communication. Click the link to read more articles by this author.

Click Here: Mehedi Kayser Pabitra

 About The Author

Mehedi Kayser Pabitra
Mehedi Kayser Pabitra
Assistant Professor
American International University Bangladesh (AIUB)
Corporate Business Communication Trainer.

[email protected]

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