Monthly Archives: March 2014

Make your email headings clear and informative

Increase the chances of people reading your emails and taking the action you want by getting your email headings right. A clear and informative title or heading with a date and action will help people respond.

Here are some tips for email headings:

  • When sending emails about activities such as meetings where the date is important, include the date in the heading.
  • When requesting action by a certain date, include that in the heading too.
  • A short heading of one or two words may be easy to read, but is more likely to be mysterious rather than informative. But don’t make the heading so long it disappears off the screen.
  • If it may not be clear to recipients who the email is from, you may want to include extra information in the title.
  • Include information in the heading to distinguish your latest email from regular emails with similar content such as monthly newsletters or regular reports and updates.

Here are some examples:

  • Use “RSVP for talk by Monday 24 March”, not “Reply soon”
  • Use “Reminder: meeting on 10 am Wed 16 April”, not “Reminder about meeting”
  • Use “Subscribe by Fri 28 March for a special offer”, not “Special offer”
  • Use “Urgent: reply due by 9 am Monday”, not “Urgent”
  • Use “April 2014 newsletter attached”, not “Current newsletter”.

The aim is to make it easier for your recipients to see what your email is about and what they have to do by when. If the text of your email is long, consider using headings within your email as well to make the content clearer.

Be inclusive with gender-neutral language

International Women’s Day on 8 March 2014 is an opportunity to focus on the importance of being inclusive by using gender-neutral or gender-free language. Simple choices in occupational titles or pronouns can make a big difference.

For instance,

  • use Chair, not Chairman
  • use spokesperson, not spokesman
  • use web manager, not web master
  • use actor, not actress
  • use labour or human resources, not manpower
  • use the verb staff, not man.

Avoid gender-specific pronouns to ensure gender-neutral and bias-free references to individuals. There are several options to rewrite sentences, and the best choice will depend on the circumstances.

For instance, in the sentence “Every award nominee should bring his ticket”, choices are:

  • rewrite the sentence so the subject and pronoun are plural: “Nominees should bring their tickets”
  • use the gender-free subject you and pronoun your: “You should bring your ticket”
  • repeat the gender-neutral subject noun: “Every nominee should bring the nominee’s ticket”
  • leave out the pronoun: “Every nominee should bring the ticket”
  • use the plural pronoun “their” with a singular subject: “Every nominee should bring their ticket”.

The last option is increasing in use.