Posted by: Jane Dominguez, CPA | April 27, 2010

Test Your Email Subject Line Savvy

Test Your Email Subject Line Savvy


1. No one pays attention to the subject line.                   T or F

2. It’s better to keep the same subject line for
continuing communications.                                           T or F

3. There is no need to change the subject line
of emails I forward to other people.                                T or F

4. “Urgent” or “priority” in the subject ensures that
my emails are read.                                                       T or F
5. Using text message style writing in the subject
line is an easy way to keep it short and concise.                                                                         T or F

My responses are below. Do you agree?
Please share your thoughts and comments.

1.  False. The subject line is the one item that a recipient is likely to read. It is important to make it useful and specific. A blank subject line tells your reader that your message isn’t important enough to warrant a title. Emails that get read and get results are the ones that tell the whole story in the subject line.

2. False. It is crucial to keep the subject line current as the email conversation evolves. Matching the subject line to the current purpose of the email discussion helps to keep the communication focused. A subject line that accurately reflects the current topic makes it easier to file and locate the message later.

3. False. Readers often do not make forwarded emails a priority. Use the subject line to tell your reader why you are forwarding the it to them. If your subject line does not explain why you are forwarding the message, they may not open it to find out.

4. False. Remember the little boy who cried wolf. Routinely using “urgent” or “priority” will cause your readers to ignore your alert notice, even when true. A well-crafted subject line clearly announcing the topic is the best way to encourage recipients to read your message.

5. False. Text message style writing tells your reader that you are not a professional. It  diminishes your image as an expert and undermines your credibility.



  1. Good morning, Jane.

    I really enjoy your articles…very informative, insightful, and (obviously!!) well written. It’s a pleasure to share them with my colleagues, especially members of the Rochester Professional Consultants Network.

    Thanks! Jen Ulrich

    • Thank you for the wonderful compliments, you made my day. One of my biggest delights is when people tell me they are using and sharing the material.

  2. I would partly disagree with #2. In my opinion, if you for example are sending out newsletters, it’s good to have {Newsletter #….} at the start of the subject line. Or if you are doing just general emails, you could include {CompanyName} at the start. It helps to develop trust, with the reader knowing it’s from you. It can also increase open rates.

    • Excellent point. In the case of newsletters, using a consistent heading and identifying the date or version not only helps to make sure that recipients open your email, but also makes it easier to file and find them for future use. Including the company name in the subject line does assist in establishing good relationship with readers. Many clients know me best as “The Email Doctor,” and I often include it at the end of my subject line.

  3. Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by clgoodman: RT @jodykoehler: Test the strength of your e-mail subject lines with this quiz

  4. Ha, I got 100! It’s funny, being a solo PR I talk with reporters, editors, bloggers all the time about what gets them: the subject. How to write it so it gets noticed, gets read, gets opened.

    I always try and modify the subject line per the real content of the email, so important as you’re tracking a project.

    The other tips are spot on, and to #5 I’d add skipping the cutesy phrases, tons of symbols, exclamation points, etc. And what should go without typing, it should be as short, sweet as possible while still being properly spelled and grammatically correct. FWIW.

    • You are one savvy professional! Absolutely, short, sweet and grammatically correct is the winning combination for email subject lines.

  5. 100% – did you expect any less from your pupil?

    • Of course not! I fully expected the head of Blue Collar University to be a savvy email expert!

  6. Like keepersac, I partly disagree with 2. When I’m working on a particular project with a client I like to begin the subject header of every mail related to it with the project title. That makes it easy for them and me to sort all emails about the same project.

    • I agree that using a consistent subject line for an ongoing project with a client makes it easy for everyone to track the communication. I do the same, adding a tag at the end of the subject line (such as the date, a sequential number, or key word) to identify the order of the communication or current main point. This makes it even easier to sort, file and locate the correct email.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: