Email Subject Lines

When composing an email, it is probably the first thing you will write: the email subject line. Whether you write it first or last, it will be the first thing that someone else sees. This is a huge part of why your email subject line matters. Here are tips for informal and formal email subject lines, as well as the do’s and don’ts of crafting them.

Email Subject Lines Email Subject Lines

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Table of contents

    Tips for Writing Email Subject Lines

    The subject line for an email is something you don’t get in a text message or direct message.

    The subject line is a separate space above an email that indicates the topic of the email.

    The subject line of an email is basically the title of your email. As such, it may be best to capitalize the first letter of each word in the subject line. This is more the case for formal emails, and informal emails can use all lowercase letters, if you'd prefer.

    Formal:

    Document X Attached—Thank you

    Informal:

    Here's that document you wanted

    Unlike the body of your email, the subject line of your email is just that—a line. It isn’t long, so you only have so much space to get your point across. Here are some key areas to work on when composing your email’s subject line.

    The Point in Your Email Subject Line

    Make your meaning known right away. Pretend you are inviting some people to a get-together, then look at the following two examples. Which one “gets to the point” better?

    Hello to all my fine-feathered friends! Is anyone interested in enjoying a get-together this Saturday?

    Get-together this Saturday: who’s interested?!

    Obviously, the second one gets to the point better. In your own emails, try to start the line with the main topic of your email. In this case, that topic is a “get-together this Saturday,” so include that near the beginning!

    It's best to state the main topic of the email early in the subject line because most, if not all, email platforms cut the subject line off after the first 40-60 characters. You don't want to bury the main topic of the email in the subject line so that it doesn't even show up in their inbox.

    Try using a colon to get to the point!

    Conciseness in Your Email Subject Line

    Part of “getting to the point” is being concise. This means you should write something short. Let’s look at our two examples again to visualize a short vs. a long email subject line.

    Hello to all my fine-feathered friends! Is anyone interested in enjoying a get-together this Saturday?

    Get-together this Saturday: who’s interested?!

    The first example is nearly twice as long as the second example. It also takes the entire subject line to reach the point. It isn’t concise.

    Limit your email subject line to ten or so words.

    Clarity in Your Email Subject Line

    You want your subject line to be clear. This means you want anyone to be able to understand it. Look at these two examples and decide which one is clearer.

    Hey you definitely in

    Get-together this Saturday: are you in? :)

    So the first example is shorter, yes, but it’s at the cost of clarity. Someone reading this would not immediately know it refers to the Saturday party. The tone is also ambiguous, which leads us to another tip.

    Subject line, A group of colleagues party, StudySmarterFig. 1 - Be clear about your email subject.

    Friendliness in Your Email Subject Line

    Regardless of your email’s formality, you want to be friendly. You never want to appear harsh, vague, or indifferent. Look again at these two examples.

    Hey you definitely in

    Get-together this Saturday: are you in? :)

    The first example's tone is very vague, without punctuation or emojis to clarify. One might even read it as passive-aggressive or fed-up, which hopefully isn’t the intent!

    This is why the second example is better. In the second example, the writer doesn’t call attention to the other person's possible indecisiveness. Instead, they ask a simple question and include a smile, so the subject line doesn’t appear pushy.

    Always put yourself in the shoes of the person you are emailing, and imagine yourself getting this email out of the blue. How would you respond if you didn’t know your own meaning or intent?

    With all these things in mind, it’s time to explore how you might introduce yourself.

    Introduction Email Subject Line

    When introducing yourself in an email subject line, what you do is more important than who you are (your name). Take a look at these two examples.

    John Doe here! I’m interested in working with you.

    Sales Rep from [insert corporation here]. Interested in a collaboration?

    In the first example, John Doe announces himself as if his name carries special weight or significance. The reader would scratch her head and wonder, Who is this John Doe, and why does he want to work with me?

    The second example is much better because the person receiving the email knows immediately what the emailer does and for whom. This helps to establish trust and build a bridge with whomever you might be emailing. You don’t want to appear shady or surprising.

    When emailing someone, be confident! This extends to the subject line. Replace words like “maybe” and “perhaps” with more decisive language. For instance, don’t say, “Perhaps you would like to discuss this further?” Instead, say, “Would you like to discuss this further?” This is less tentative (and also shorter). It’s best to not mince words when emailing someone, even if you email a friend or colleague. The more sure you are, the smoother your conversations will be.

    Thank You Email Subject Line

    First, thank people whenever the occasion arises! This advice isn’t to help you gain anyone’s favor; it’s simply good to do. You should be thankful for people’s time and the opportunities they give you.

    Try to be a positive role model in your company, class, or community.

    “Thank you” emails don’t need to be complex, particularly in the subject line. You shouldn’t overthink it, and instead be honest and straightforward.

    Thank You For Your Time Today!

    This is a good thank-you message regardless of the formality of your email.

    If you are happy or grateful, try to capture that feeling.

    When writing an email, try not to make it too much about you. Whether in the subject line or the body of your email, keep the dialogue open and engage the other person. Ask questions! Generally, don’t go into too much detail about how you feel, how things are going for you, etc., unless you are close to whomever you are emailing. Limiting the conversation about you is also a good way to make your email subject line (and email) more concise.

    Email Subject Line Examples

    Here are some sample subject lines for common kinds of informal emails. These are good for friends, peers, and co-workers. You also might use these with a boss or supervisor if you have a friendly, established relationship with them.

    Mold these subject lines to suit your situation.

    Introduction Subject Lines

    Here are some sample introductions.

    1. This is [name] from [department]. Hi!
    2. Hello from [department or corporation]!
    3. [Position] from [department or corporation], saying hello!

    Thank You Subject Lines

    Here are some sample thank you subjects.

    1. Appreciate the time today!
    2. Thanks, [their name]! :)
    3. Thank you again and hope things are well!

    Subject Lines for Meetings

    Try one of these as an email subject line if you just wrapped up meeting someone.

    1. Enjoyed talking!
    2. Hope to talk again soon!
    3. Good talking with you earlier!

    Subject line, Two hands shake, StudySmarterFig. 2 Be kind and respectful in your email subject lines.

    Professional Email Subject Line Examples

    These are for people you don’t know or don’t know well, as well as bosses and supervisors in more formal settings. Rather than list multiple examples for generic kinds of messages, here is a list of appropriate professional email subject lines that span a variety of topics.

    Check your subject line against these.

    1. Regarding training: [name] from [department]
    2. Thank you for the interview, [their name]!
    3. Regarding the meeting at [time]. Possible to reschedule?
    4. Question regarding the May 3rd assignment

    Is your tone similar to these? If not, you might need to make your subject line more or less formal.

    You want to limit your chumminess for professional emails, but not so much that you are antiquated or unfriendly. Several informal email subject lines will work as professional email subject lines, too. You just might need to tweak a few things. Here are some things to avoid in professional email subject lines:

    • Do not use emojis
    • Do not use poor grammar
    • Do not use too many exclamation points
    • Do not make it about you (especially this time)
    • Do not take anything for granted

    It is perfectly fine to use emojis in the subject line of an informal email. Use emojis any time you want to grab the reader's attention!

    Be warm, confident, and sincere. Good luck!

    Subject Line - Key takeaways

    • The subject line is a separate space above an email that indicates the topic of the email.
    • Your subject line isn’t long (ten words or fewer), so you only have so much space to get your point across.
    • Make your meaning known right away and be concise.
    • Be sure your subject line is clear and friendly.
    • In your email subject line and beyond, be warm, confident, and sincere.
    Frequently Asked Questions about Email Subject Lines

    How do you write a good email subject line?

    To write a good email subject line, get to the point of the email, be clear and concise, and be friendly.

    What is a subject line in an email?

    The subject line is a separate space above an email that indicates the topic of the email.

    What do you put in the subject line of an email?

    In an email subject line, you briefly get to the point of your email.

    What is the ideal length of an email subject line?

    The ideal length of an email subject line is ten words or so.

    What goes in the subject line of an email?

    The reason for the email goes into the subject line of an email. You may want to state your profession or who you represent.

    Test your knowledge with multiple choice flashcards

    Where does a subject line appear in an email?

    About how many words should your subject line be?

    In your email subject line, make your meaning known right away.True or false?

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