Write a good email subject line.


While we’re on email, please allow me to tell you: Don’t send emails with the subject line ‘hi’. Unless, hi is all you want to say. If you were writing a letter to a government official or a bank manager, would you do this?

Respected Saar / Madam, Sub: Hi 

This is for a reason, no? To tell the busy official what you want quickly and clearly. Why don’t you extend the same courtesy to your colleagues?

If you’re ever stuck about what to write in the email subject line, here are some things you can do:

  • Write what the email is about: ‘Design brief: emdash business card’, ‘submitting column: <column title>’, ‘invoice for cloud computing brochure from emdash’, ‘Job application: Social media manager’

  • Include important words in email subject line: It’ll make it searchable. ‘Covid content e-book: Proposal’, ’emdash portfolio’, ‘Bangalore Lit Fest social media content calendar’

  • If you need action, mention it: ‘[Need approval] Quote from printer for corporate brochures’, ‘[Following up] Invoice – 0123 is still unpaid’, ‘[Seeking interview] Writer from The Whole Works’,

  • If it’s just information, write it in the subject line: ‘My portfolio site is live again’, ‘I’m now available for more work’, ‘I’ve taken up a new job’.

  • If you were referred by someone, mention their name: ‘Content editor introduction | Referred by Jane Doe’

  • Ask a question: I love this. “Can we meet for coffee tomorrow?”, “Can you help me with my CV, please?”, “Is Monday a good time for team call?’

In essence, use the subject line like an executive summary of your email.

Every day, people see their inbox hundreds of time. They will subconsciously read the subject lines many times. Your subject line itself can serve as a reminder, even if they don’t open and read your mail as often.

Also, before searching for an email, people scroll through their inboxes trying to find it. A subject line is mostly what they’re scrubbing. Make it easier for them to find you.