A Great Tip on Email Subjects

Last week I taught Email Intelligence for a favorite client company. When I asked for additions to my 25 rules for email etiquette and efficiency, I got eight good suggestions. Here, with my elaboration, is an excellent suggestion to make email more efficient for your reader:

When you send an email to someone at another company, don’t use their company name in the subject line. Why? They know their company name, and it will not help them recognize, act on, sort, or file the message. Instead, use your company or personal name.

Example: Your company is ABC Corporation. You are writing to XYZ Limited. Change this subject line:

Construction Bid for XYZ Limited: Southeast Pier

to this:

ABC Construction Bid: Southeast Pier

Even though calling the email "ABC Construction Bid: Southeast Pier" will not help you sort the message, it will help your reader handle the message efficiently–and that is more important. If all your messages on this topic start with "ABC" in your subject line, your reader can sort them easily.

Another aspect of this tip is that if you receive a message with an unhelpful subject, change it before you file it. At XYZ, for example, if you received the weakly named message from ABC, you would change it to recognize that it is from ABC before filing it.

If you have guidelines or great ideas on email efficiency, please share them.

Lynn
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Other search spellings: emial, etiquitte, ediquite

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Lynn Gaertner-Johnston has helped thousands of employees and managers improve their business writing skills and confidence through her company, Syntax Training. In her corporate training career of more than 20 years, she has worked with executives, engineers, scientists, sales staff, and many other professionals, helping them get their messages across with clarity and tact. A gifted teacher, Lynn has led writing classes at more than 100 companies and organizations such as MasterCard, Microsoft, Boeing, Nintendo, REI, AARP, Ledcor, and Kaiser Permanente. Near her home in Seattle, Washington, she has taught managerial communications in the MBA programs of the University of Washington and UW Bothell. She has created a communications course, Business Writing That Builds Relationships, and provides the curriculum at no cost to college instructors. A recognized expert in business writing etiquette, Lynn has been quoted in "The Wall Street Journal," "The Atlantic," "Vanity Fair," and other media. Lynn sharpened her business writing skills at the University of Notre Dame, where she earned a master's degree in communication, and at Bradley University, with a bachelor's degree in English. She grew up in suburban Chicago, Illinois.

2 COMMENTS

  1. Hi, another way could be use ‘ABC – XYZ – Construction Bid’

    This makes a win-win as far as sorting of emails is concerned.

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