Earlier this week, I published an article for CommPro. The content was the subject line in an email and how important it is for a recipient's first impression. Here is the same article...
Well begun is half done.—Aristotle
Besides the sender’s name and company, the subject field in an email will be the first item a message reader will see. Therefore, this should never be blank. The action of not having a subject has only negative connotations. The least of these is that the author was lazy or neglectful. The worst of these is that the message is a possible spam (at least to the spam software). Either way, the initial reaction to any email omitting a subject will be negative. If it is indeed viewed this way, then the odds of the message being read by a first-time recipient surely decrease dramatically. If the message is important, such as a résumé, introduction, or emergency, the negative implications to the sender may be quite significant. So, always include a subject description. Provide proper punctuation, but do not include a period at the end.
Even when there is a subject description, it may not be adequate, appropriate, or accurate to the content of the message itself. Too short of a subject, such as “info,” can also discourage someone from opening and reading the message. Conversely, a long email subject line might have a negative effect either for lack of interest (because of the way it is described), lack of clarity, or because it gives away too much of the content. As a rule, it is best to restrict the subject description from three to ten words. Ensure that a subject line is not the whole message with blank text in the email body. In entering the subject-line content, it is best to accurately repeat content as well as present a bridge to something important to the recipient, such as “Schedule of your classes,” or “Recap of our meeting today.” Leave it to the body of text to explain attachments or provide expanded details.
About the Author: Paul Babicki is the author of a forthcoming book, “NetiquetteIQ – A Comprehensive Guide to Improve, Enhance and Add Power to Your Email”. He also authors a blog at http://NetiquetteIQ.blogspot.com. He can be contacted at www.netiquetteiq.com or firstname.lastname@example.org