How to Write an Effective Email Subject Line

Over my 15+ years as an administrative professional and project manager, I found one tool to be indispensable for getting the answers I need and crossing things off my list. And that is… using the email subject line.

For a lot of us, the email subject line is a redundant line of text while trying to send a message, but when used appropriately, it’s your best friend. With proper form, you can set clear expectations about the content of your email and the action needed from the recipient, cutting down on delays and confusion.

And it all comes down to a simple formula…

CALL TO ACTION + DATE + DESCRIPTOR

This formula lays out all the information the recipient needs in a snapshot, which, frankly, is the whole point of a subject line. What do I need to do with this? What is the date associated with it? What exactly is this in reference to?

Let’s put this into context. Here are a few examples to get you going:

  • Response Needed by [DUE DATE}: Descriptor of the Document/Event/Etc
  • Signature Needed by {DUE DATE}: Company X Project Agreement
  • Important Event Information: [DATE OF EVENT} Descriptive Name of Event

Each of these subject lines are remarkably clear about what is needed. If a deadline is looming, we now know what to prioritize. Alternatively, if the email just contain information to review (with no action needed), we know we don’t have to interrupt our work day to read it.

Easy enough, right?! Give it a shot and let me know how it goes. And if you have additional email call to actions that others may find helpful, drop it below in the comments!

If you found this helpful and are looking for more ways to improve your emails, check out my on-demand course Effective Email Communication.

Happy emailing!


Jen Lawrence is a productivity and systems expert passionate about creating ease through systems. With over fifteen years of administrative and project management experience, she helps entrepreneurs develop custom client experience and operations solutions so they can transition from the Chief of Everything to CEO. Learn more about Jen Lawrence at http://www.jenlawrence.co.

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