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Turn email into ‘texting’ with subject-only messages

Some of the advantages of quick and short text messages can be had with emails by using a simple technique.

Heinz Tschabitscher, an email guide at, explains about subject-only emails: “Sometimes, messages we send are very short ('Spare apples in room 407' for example). They are so short that they fit in an email's Subject header perfectly. While there is no reason to repeat the very message in the body of the mail, you should tell the recipient that the subject is already the message. Most email clients display a summary of mailboxes containing at least the sender and — the subject.”

This means there is only a message in the subject heading with no further (or repeated) message in the regular email. A person doesn't have to open an email to read everything — the message is so short it is all in the subject heading.

Gina Trapani at Lifehacker also uses the subject-only messages: “Subject-only messages are pretty impersonal and I only use 'em with certain people. However, boiling your entire message down to one subject is a great writing exercise AND a big time-saver.”

The trick is to let people know they don't need to open the email to get the whole message. The trick is to put a simple note or marker at the end of the message.

Chanpory Rith at LifeClever suggests putting “(END)” after a subject-only message. Tschabitscher at says to use “(EOM)” for “End of Message” or “(SIM)” for “Subject is Message.”

So a subject-only email might look like this: “Will be 5 minutes late to meeting (EOM)”

The advantage is time and irritation savings according to Rith at LifeClever: “At first, it seems like a subject-line email doesn't save you all that much time. It's just 15 seconds or so less than writing a full email. But seconds add up to a lot in a year. Imagine all the quick emails you send annually, and you'll realize you could be spending that time doing something productive or fun. More importantly, you're saving the recipient's time by not compelling them to take the extra step to open the email to read more.”

For companies that don't use instant messaging or texting for internal communications, subject-only emails may be one more way to quickly communicate at work. (EOM)


Twitter: @degroote