Why you should never send email without a subject line.

While I am occasionally guilty of it, one of my biggest frustrations is when people send me an email without using a decent, descriptive subject line.

What’s worse, it often seems that the most important emails — such as somebody sending through some key work they finished, or a batch of data, or presentation etc. these are the ones that end up missing subject lines.

Okay so why does it bug me so much? Because I hate doing admin.

When somebody sends me something important, I guess I should download it, and file it somewhere really organised. But who has time for that?

Especially when we have gmail — where I can just archive all my email, and use the powerful search to find it later.

If the subject line just has a few relevant words it helps the recipient recognise the email when it arrives, prioritise it appropriately, and find it quickly in the future.

The worst kind of subject lines.

  • (no subject)
  • “Here you go dude”
  • “Yo”
  • “That file you wanted”
  • “Idea!”

Don’t fall into this trap.

The main reason people fall into this trap is when a face to face (or even a skype / slack) conversation is taking place, or just took place — and the outcome is the sending of an email.

Sure, the recipient might know the conversation they just had, but if they have to take another call then already when they come to their email they’ll take time to remember what it was about. And you can’t expect them to remember the timing of that conversation 6 months from now.

What should a subject line be like then?

The ideal subject line explains what’s in the email. Think about it like writing a page title for SEO — what isthe person who’s going to read this going to be looking for and how will this subject line show that they found it?

It takes seconds to be the tiniest bit descriptive but you’ll be saving your recipient some unnecesary admin.

Some examples of good subject lines

  • “The geocoding data we discussed for project nexus”
  • “The presentation on plate techtonics we just discussed”
  • “The report from the team at better analytics you wanted”
Make this a new good deed. Stop sending people useless subject lines. Thank you!
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