I use the following in my email subjects to improve the clarity of my emails.
- [ACTION] An action or series of actions must be completed. This email should be considered a ‘to do’ item.
- [COORD] Coordination by or with the recipient is required.
- [DECISION] Requires a decision by recipient.
- [INFO] For informational purposes only, requires no action or response by recipient.
- [REQUEST] Seeks permission or approval.
- [SIGN] Requires signature.
For example the subject of an email might be “[DECISION] 4Q bonus targets”. The subject lines now give an indicator to the reader of your expectation, and allows them to quickly process your email. Additionally, the quality of the responses you receive when using these will greatly improve.
I will also use EOM in the subject line if the entire message is contained in the subject. “The flight now lands at 4pm gate 32 EOM” lets the reader know that the entire message is contained in the subject, and there is no need to open the email.
If the email is lengthy or involved I will often begin an email with “Bottom Line:” followed by specific item, information, or decision I need. For example I may put “Bottom Line: We need to decrease 4Q budgets to 5% of YOY sales.”, and then follow that with all of my supporting information. This makes sure that I am upfront with what I need when it’s possible my message is long or involved and fear the primary message may be missed.