E-mail messages and formal memos often are ignored because writers are sloppy with subject lines. Make them specific.
Readers are eager to hit the delete button. They are looking for a reason not to read your message, and by not providing specific information in the subject line, you give them a reason. Carefully choose your words so that the subject line captures the essence of your purpose in writing. It’s in your best interest if you want the reader to look at it.
Avoid using one or two words in a subject line because they rarely tell the reader what she needs to know to decide whether to read your message. If you want to know what will be discussed at tomorrow’s meeting, don’t write “meeting.” What does that tell the reader? She has 27 meetings this week, so it tells her nothing about why you writing. There is no reason for her to read. Instead, say, “Need agenda for tomorrow’s meeting.”
When someone asks me for editing help on a news release, the person often will put “release” in the lead. That’s no reason for me to read it. It should be something such as “Please edit this release,” and if you need a response quickly, say, “Need edits by noon tomorrow.”
I also find that I often can handle an e-mail response in the subject line without forcing the reader to look for more info. in the body. When someone asks me if I am available for a phone conversation tomorrow at 2 p.m., my response is all in the subject line. “Talking tomorrow: I’ll call you at 2” tells the reader what he or she needs to know.