Subject lines are easily the most overlooked, underused built-in email productivity tool. If executed properly, well-written subjects can help organize inboxes, increase response time, and prioritize messages. When implemented incorrectly, subject lines perpetuate the email mess. When you begin to write the subject for your next email, keep these three things in mind:
A good subject line is quite literally a line (a handful of words) that describe the subject (topic) of a message. It shouldn’t be cute like the the title of a book; rather, it should be informative and attention-grabbing like the title of a magazine article.
The subject of a message should very clearly describe what the message has in store. It should be detailed yet brief. It really is a fine balance. I can’t fully express how unhelpful it is to get an email from a colleague with an ambiguous subject like Catching Up, or worse Important Information. I recently received a message with a subject Document only to open it and find no body message and an attachment entitled Untitled Document-copy1. My ideal subject line would be along the lines of Next Friday’s Meeting with Tom or Revision 3 of Employment Contract.
I challenge you to come up with an informative subject line that is one word. The most effective subject lines will be between 2 and 4 words. Be careful to not overdo it, either. A 10 word, two line subject is almost worse than the dreaded (no subject). It’s all about balance.
How to do it:
It’s simple: write the subject after you complete the body of the message. This way, you know exactly what content the message contains and are in a better position to determine the most detailed yet brief line possible. “What if I forget to write the subject after I write the body?” you ask. We’ve solved this in Mail Pilot. The subject line is located by default at the bottom of the compose window, below the body, and right next to the send button. It’s more intuitive for writing, more productive for you, and it will make you less enemies around the office.
Mail Pilot is ushering in a new era of more productive email.