• Go Ask Debbie

5 Tips to Use Effective Subject Lines to get your Emails Read

Updated: Jan 13

We are all overwhelmed with emails these days and if you're like me, I look at the Subject line first to see if it's something I need to get to right away or if it can wait.

1. The biggest mistake I see if people leaving the Subject Line blank!

I'm sure you've seen emails like this. It takes more time for the recipient to read thru the first few lines to determine the subject of the email and whether or not they need to action it. Or, worst case scenario, people will not even read your email, or will likely delete it, if you leave the Subject Line blank.

2. Write the Subject Line FIRST

Many people take the Subject Line as an afterthought; they don't think about the subject of the email and what will get the recipients' attention.

Almost half of emails these days are being read on a mobile device, so you need to think thru the Subject Line and keep it short, using only a few words if possible.

If there is action needed, make it clear in the Subject Line.

Something so simple like, "Action Needed: Report data due"

Or even if you are setting up a Follow Up Reminder for the recipients, you can write something like this in the Subject Line: "DUE Friday, Report data needed."

Don't be cute and personal when sending professional emails. You know we've all seen those email marketers that try to be vague in their Subject Line to get you to open the email. When writing for business, keep it clear, concise, and specific to the topic at hand.


And just as we've suggested for many years, when you are typing in ALL CAPS, it means you are yelling. So, have the same respect when typing the Subject Line. Only use ALL CAPS if you are referring to acronyms or something like a "DUE DATE:" for example.

4. Don't type Punctuation

Seeing a Subject Line like this, "... ???" only frustrates people.

Again, people have limited time and hundreds of emails they have to read each and every day. Please be respectful and do NOT use punctuation marks as your Subject Line.

This is almost the same as leaving the Subject Line blank. People will either have to open the email to determine any action needed. Or, they will simply delete the email or miss it entirely over an email that has a follow date or clear request in the Subject Line.

5. Reread the Subject Line BEFORE you hit SEND!

If there are typos in your Subject Line, it can prevent the recipient from opening it. Or, it will make the recipient doubt anything that you might be saying in the email.

Seeing a Subject Line like this, "Monday's Communnication newsletter" can take extra time on people's eyes. They may think they are seeing double, when it was really just a typo. And, again, when people have to take extra time to read Subject Lines, it's just a waste of everyone's time and you risk the chance of the email being ignored or deleted.

If there is a mistake in the Subject Line, what else might the sender be mistaking?

These are just my Top 5 Tips to Use Subject Lines to get your Emails read.

If you're interested in learning how to use Outlook for Time & Task Management, download my FREE 65 Ways to Use MS Office to be More Productive! eBook.

If you are looking for other subjects, feel free to check out my courses using the menu at the top of my page or feel free to email me at: contact@goaskdebbie.com .


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