Another Email Etiquette Tip: Make your email subject line fit your message.
It is convenient to select “reply” to an email from someone, as a way to save the time of entering an address–and sometimes that is appropriate for a quick turn-around email. However, it is frustrating to be searching for a phone number, schedule or some other specific thing and find only twenty subject lines that say, “Re: Project Plans.” It is also disconcerting to get a message about setting up a meeting, but the subject line pertains to a message you sent two years ago, and says, “Re: Sad news about Fred Benson”.
A chain of email messages on about the same topic: If each email is part of a chain of messages on one topic, customize each of them in some way, so the sender and you can find it later.
First message subject line: SLR Project Plans
Re: SLR Project Plans-McCorison contact info/schedule
Re: SLR Project Plans-Timeline
Re: SLR Project Plans-Change in email address for Tina Lewis
Re: SLR Project Plans-Immediate response needed: August update/SLR photo/name survey
The idea is to give recipients a way to save and recover all of the email messages related to the SLR Project, but also to find specific information within that group. Think of how many emails you would have to open if those messages all just said, “Re: SLR Project Plans” and you only wanted to know the timeline for the project.
A message about a completely different subject: If you look up a message from John and hit reply to send him an unrelated message, change the subject line. It not only is confusing to see a subject line about a topic you do not recall or that you are not aware of as a current issue, it looks as though you don’t care enough about the message or the recipient to personalize it.
First message: Sad news about Fred Benson
Second message, originally “Re: Sad news about Fred Benson”: Let’s get together for lunch
Forwarded messages: Many people hit delete when they see “FW:” in personal mail. In business settings they may not open it, thinking it is just FYI. Rather than using only the forwarded subject line, personalize it a bit as well, unless the person receiving it is expecting it and knows why they are getting it.
First message: Want your input–FW: SLR Project Plans
Second message: Your ideas? (Fwd msg. from CM to me about SLR Project Plans)
Yes, you do have enough time to make the email subject line fit the message. The email subject line is the first thing people look for, after seeing your name in their In-Box. Make it something that not only lets your recipient know what the email is about, but that also allows them to find it later. Do not give people a negative feeling about your message before they have even read it.