One of the most frequent questions I get during an email etiquette workshop is: Is it okay to change the subject line? Usually the person asking is concerned that the other person is archiving the communication through the subject line and doesn’t want to mess that up for the recipient.

And the answer: Yes!

It is absolutely the right thing to do. When the subject changes, the subject line should change.

Let’s say the current subject line is: Big Dog’s Meeting – Nov 12 – 14.

If the email is about availability, change the subject line to:
ABC availability – Big Dog’s Meeting – Nov 12 – 14

If it includes a proposal, change it to:
ABC Hotel Proposal – Big Dog’s Meeting – Nov 12 – 14

If the email is about the Pre-con for the meeting, change it to…well, you get it.

Not only will your reader be able to quickly file your messages, but both of you will easily find key info from past emails (without the frustrating waste of time popping open every darn email).

If you’re writing internally, the same guidelines apply. If your boss wrote to you about “Deadline for Project X”, wanting to know when you’ll have the slide deck ready for the Project, and you’re responding back with the completed Project X, it’s time to change the subject line! “Slide deck: Project X” is a truthful, summary of what your email is about. Use it.

Other questions on subject lines? Please ask and I’m happy to answer.