Email tip: Pronouns in the subject line are in the eye of the beholder

Raymond Chen

This applies to email, but it applies even more to meetings and appointments, which are typically arranged via email or similar workflow. It may seem obvious at the time, but messages with pronouns like me or you in the subject line tend to be harder to understand when you come back to the message a little while later. I was reminded of this by a colleague who received a meeting reminder alert that simply read:

Title: One-on-one chat
Start time: May 9, 2007 4:00 PM
Location: my office

Whose office is my office? This is a generalization of choosing a subject line that is meaningful to the recipient. You want a subject line that is meaningful to everybody involved.

And here’s the round-up of some unhelpful or rude subject lines I’ve seen in the past five months:

  • Question
  • A question
  • Two questions
  • Can someone help me !!!!
  • Need help regarding SRQ141421
  • Need assistance//SRQ0314159
  • SRX602214179-23
  • Need some help guys
  • Need assistance with the following issue
  • Need help on a few things.
  • newbie question
  • Guidance/Help
  • A C# question (sent to a C# discussion list)
  • C++ Error (bonus points: This was also sent to a C# discussion list)
  • Strange Error
  • Erratic behavior
  • Sorry about wide distribution


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