Professional email subject line examples

20 Jan 2023

If you want to improve the quality of your business email these professional email subject line examples will help.

Email is a crucial tool in any professional setting and the subject line is the first thing that a recipient sees. A clear and concise subject line can make the difference between an email being read or ignored.

In this article, you’ll see a range of professional email subject line examples that are both good and bad. From action-oriented subject lines to specific project and task titles. In addition to the examples  you’ll find advice to help you create effective subject lines for your professional emails.

If you are looking for professional email subject line examples, Internal email subject line examples, or email subject lines for business you’ll find them here.

What not to write in a professional email subject line

Before we get into the good subject line examples, we need to take a quick look at some bad examples. The first step in writing good subject lines is to know what not to do.

There are three types of bad subject line:

  1. Too short.
  2. Unclear.
  3. Irrelevant.

Each of these causes problems for the recipient.

Too short email subject line examples

Here are some examples of subject lines that are too short:

  1. Thoughts?
  2. Hey!
  3. Meeting.
  4. Check this out.
  5. Regarding.
  6. Follow-up.

These subject lines are generic and don’t give any context — they don’t show what the email is about. It’s also unclear what the recipient should expect from the email. An email with a short subject line less than three words could be about anything and that makes it difficult to decide whether to read it.

When faced with an inbox full of messages we have to quickly decide where to focus and where to spend our time. So when you use short lines like the ones above, people are much less likely to open your emails. Instead, they will move on to another email they know is important.

Advice: when writing professional email subject lines don’t make them too short.

Unclear email subject line examples

The second type of bad professional email subject lines are the ones that are unclear. Here are some examples:

  • Issue with order
  • Regarding project ABC
  • Meeting change
  • Update on task
  • New information
  • About our conversation
  • Important changes

Can you tell what these emails are about just from these subject lines? I can’t.

These subject lines are ambiguous, they don’t provide any context for the topic. If you received these messages you could be forgiven for thinking, which order has an issue? Which meeting has changed? New information about what? In each case the topic and context are missing. So is the purpose — what are you meant to do with the content from each email?

Unclear subject lines can be short or long. The issue is that the reader can’t tell what the email is about just by reading the subject line.

When the topic and purpose or an email are clearly stated in the subject line the reader is more likely to open and read the message.

Irrelevant email subject lines

The third and final type of bad subject line is the irrelevant subject. This happens when the email subject doesn’t relate to the content of the message and it can be deliberate or accidental. Accidents usually happen when copying and pasting messages, or forwarding a message to someone new. It’s easy to forget to change the subject line for the new recipient. So always take care to check you’ve updated the subject to match the content of the message.

If on the other hand you deliberately put a misleading subject line is called bait-and-switch. It’s bad and you shouldn’t do it. Really, please don’t!

Imagine how you’d feel if you got a message like this:

Subject: Extra vacation day this year

Hi Josh,

HR has sent out the new vacation allowance and it includes an extra day. Speaking of vacation, I need you to work next weekend because we are short-staffed.

The subject line promises something great — an extra vacation day — but the email is really about working extra shifts. The content of the message doesn’t match the subject line. How many emails like this do you think you can send before people will distrust you or stop opening your messages? Probably not very many.

What to write in good professional email subject lines

Now you’ve seen what not to do, let’s take a look at what you should do. If you follow a couple of simple rules you can ensure your business email subject lines are always professional.

  1. State the topic or theme for your email.
  2. Include a statement about the purpose of the message. (i.e. what is the recipient expected to do with the email?)

Follow these two rules and you’ll always write clear, meaningful subject lines that people will read and respond to. You can learn more about these two rules in my article How to write professional business email subject lines

In the meantime, here are some good professional email subject line examples.

  • Manager meeting next week: send me your questions.
  • Sept budget report: need your info by 16 Aug.
  • Team X Sales targets: pls approve your numbers.
  • April sales numbers — please update the reports.
  • [URGENT] Check if this announcement impacts projects Apex and Everest.
  • Derek is leaving — please share gift ideas.
  • Project Apex — status is yellow — need help with three items.
  • Please review and identify if this impacts you.
  • CEO priorities statement — does it impact us?
  • Please update case file #3G587P92 today.
  • Reminder: deadline for employee performance evaluations is next week.
  • Action required: approval of Tim’s expense report.
  • Urgent: can you fix scheduling conflict for upcoming graduate meeting?
  • Confirmation: travel arrangements for Florida business trip.

Do you see how each one follows the two rules and have clear topic and purpose? Sometimes the topic comes first, sometimes it’s the purpose. In either case the recipient will know what the message is about and what they are expected to do with it.

More professional email subject line examples

Here are a few more examples to illustrate the point:

  • Project XYZ: status update and next steps.
  • Client ABC: pay invoice for services rendered.
  • Situation XYZ: please give status update.
  • Task 123 update: application submission is complete.
  • Opportunity ABC: send me the proposal and timeline.
  • Urgent: need help with order 123 for client XYZ.
  • Client ABC meeting: is the agenda ready?

By following the two rules (topic and purpose) it is easier to write short an meaningful subject lines.


Business emails need clear subject lines to help the reader understand what the message is about. To achieve this, a good business subject should makes the topic and purpose of the message clear. The good news is you don’t need to use many words to create a clear subject line. In fact, the fewer words the better, as long as the topic and purpose are clear. I hope the professional email subject line examples in this article have helped and given you inspiration for writing your own great email subject lines at work.

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