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Make Better Use of the E-mail Subject Line

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on December 31, 2007

With the amount of e-mail we receive increasing almost exponentially, we are always looking for ways to tweak the way we handle our electronic correspondence. Here’s how the subject line offers some real time-saving opportunities:

• Always use a subject in the subject line. When sending an e-mail, make sure that the subject line is completed. Many spam filters catch e-mails without a subject line. People also use the subject line to sort, prioritize, and file e-mails, so make sure the subject line is descriptive enough to help them.

• Make sure the subject line is extremely detailed. By putting specific information in the subject line, you will enable others to properly sort their work, and when you receive a response, you will know exactly which issue is being responded to. Instead of a general subject, such as "Tuesday Meeting," it’s more effective to type, "Bring the Attached Handout to the Tuesday Meeting."

• For a very brief message, use the subject line as the message. This will avoid the recipient having to open your message. Place "EOM" (end of message) at the end of the message to let the receiver know that it is the complete message.

• Edit the subject of received e-mails. To clarify or enhance the subject of an e-mail, open it and edit it. This can help you search and find filed e-mails, or will provide more clarity to an e-mail you forward.

Marsha Egan
Reading, Penn.

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