Write effective e-mail subject lines

Short, but informative

People. It's 2009. E-mail is not a new phenomenon. As a planet, we've been at it for a couple decades now. And yet some otherwise-very-intelligent-I'm-sure folks still haven't mastered the basics. Like writing an effective subject line.

For example, I recently received an e-mail with this subject: "From Joe User." (Names have been changed to protect the, er, misguided.)

Um, Joe? I know it's from you. It says so right there in the From field. What I don't know is what your e-mail is about or why I should read it.

Another message came with the subject, "HASSLE." Again, nothing too enlightening there. Do you need help solving a hassle or are you writing to hassle me? I've got plenty of the latter already, thanks.

I think the worst offenders are folks who can't be bothered to write a subject line at all. That's like getting a knock at the door, looking through the peephole, and seeing no one on the other side. Guess I don't need to open it!

Now, it's my job to read your mail, and I do so, happily. (Alas, I can't answer all of it, but I do try to answer questions here whenever I can.) But if you're hoping for the best possible response from any e-mail you send, it's important to take care with your subject line.

In other words, make it short but informative. If you're writing to Hassle-Free PC, for instance, give a quick description of your problem. A great example: "Computer not recognizing DVD/CD-ROM drives."

Remember, the subject line of your e-mail is the first thing the recipient sees. It should be a tiny summary of what's in the body of the e-mail. Anything else and your message might get overlooked, passed over, or just plain ignored.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags e-mailtutorial

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Rick Broida

PC World (US online)
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronographe 44

Learn more >

SanDisk MicroSDXC™ for Nintendo® Switch™

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Panasonic 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player and Full HD Recorder with Netflix - UBT1GL-K

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Razer DeathAdder Expert Ergonomic Gaming Mouse

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?