5 Simple Tips to Write Pro Email Subject Lines (Plus Examples)

The same way that a book’s title is what first captures a reader’s attention, an email subject line is what lures recipients into opening and clicking an email. Your emails might have pretty good subject lines right now, but can you make them better and improve your email results?

We’ve compiled some ideas to help you write email subject lines that will grab your recipients’ attention and get the results you’re looking for. While having a high email open rate is terrific, your library should be more concerned about conversions — whether it be increasing circulation, program attendance, or community engagement — but let’s not get ahead of ourselves! Conversions are non-existent if your emails aren’t opened. Below are some tips; plus, we’ve included some email subject line examples at the end of this blog.


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1. Avoid Spam Words

If you research on the internet, you’ll find lots of lists of spam words to avoid using in subject lines. Email providers see spam words as triggers and will filter out emails that might seem like scams to protect the email recipient. These email filters are not an exact science, but they have gotten better over time to analyze the context of your emails. So, if you can’t avoid using a spam word, use it creatively and in a non-suspicious way to avoid being sent to the junk folder. We’ve put together a list of spam words for you to reference and avoid in your email subject lines.


2. Deliver on Your Promise

Make sure your subject line aligns with the content in the email and never makes false promises. There’s nothing worse than opening an email because the subject line caught your attention and then realizing that the email doesn’t follow through with the expectation set by the subject line. To avoid this, write your subject line last, after you’re done composing the entire email. While it’s okay to have an idea of what your subject line might be as you begin to put your email together, you should craft your subject line at the end for it to be the best reflection of the content you’re sharing. By the time you’re finished composing your email, your message will be clear, and include a value proposition as well as a call to action (CTA.) We talked more about email structure and CTAs in this blog. Once your value proposition and CTA are in place, it will be easier to develop a relevant and creative subject line that reflects the content of the email.




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3. Show Your Playful Side When Appropriate

Using emojis in subject lines is a controversial topic, some marketers love them, and others refuse to use them. If you’re not sure where you stand, take a look at your inbox. It’s very likely that the emails that stand out in a sea of text are the ones that have cute tiny images in them! Emojis can be a creative way to stand out in someone’s email inbox. Plus, they can convey a mood or concept without needing too many words. However, be warned that if you use emojis too often, your content might lose professionalism. Using too many emojis in one subject line can trigger spam filters and some email clients (like Gmail) sometimes use classifiers that may place emails in the “Promotions” tab instead of the “Primary” tab. Before you jump on the emoji bandwagon, consider whether using one or two in your subject line will:

  1. Add relevance to your message,
  2. Communicate the mood you’re trying to convey, and
  3. Match your brand voice.

We also recommend you use emojis in a creative way. As a library, using a book emoji might not create a huge element of surprise. Instead, think outside of your usual realm. For example, if your email is about new audiobooks, use the ‘fire’ emoji to connect to the idea that they are the new hot additions to your collection. Other pro tips:

  • Keep in mind is that emojis will look different to recipients depending on the platform or device. If an emoji doesn’t exist across different platforms, it will show up as a square box or a question mark. Emojipedia is the ultimate resource where you can browse emojis by name, category, or platform. For example, here is what the ‘fire’ emoji looks like for different users.
  • Use emojis to emphasize words rather than replace them so as not to impact legibility. If you’d like the emoji to emphasize a specific word, use it after the word, not before it.


Email Subject Lines Examples with Emojis that Public Libraries Can UseEmojis can add relevance to your message and help your email stand out in a crowded inbox but be cautious about how and when you use them.


4. Get to the Point and Make it Personal

Different email clients will stop displaying email subject lines that are longer than 35-40 characters in length when they are viewed on mobile devices. The length limitations vary by email client and whether the user is viewing emails in portrait or landscape mode. To optimize your emails, consider whether your recipients predominantly access emails via their phones or desktop computers and adjust your length accordingly. If the length allows, add the recipient’s first name to the subject line to catch their attention and add a conversational tone to your email.


Email Subject Lines Tips and Example Using the Library Name in the Subject LineWoah! There’s no need to include your library name everywhere! Since your ‘From Address’ line includes your name, you don't need it in the 'Subject Line' because you would be wasting high-value space reiterating something the recipient already knows. In this case, instead of “ABC Public Library Service Update: Lockdown Restrictions,” the subject line could be “Service Update: Lockdown Restrictions.”


5. Give Your Subject Line the Love it Deserves

Explore and have fun! We recommend that you don’t rush the subject line and instead give it the attention it deserves by writing a few before deciding on the one you’ll use. You should rarely use the first one that pops to mind unless it’s magical. Let the options flow and compose 5-10 subject lines. They can be slight variations or completely different — consider it a brainstorm session and don’t hold back — then pick your favorite one. Some of your ideas may make it into future emails.

For example, to promote this blog, the email subject line that used was, “Drooling over email subject lines 😋” Some of the other subject lines that didn’t make the cut were:

Subject lines that will guarantee email opens and clicks

Subject lines no one will pass on

Captivate them with catchy subject lines

Award-worthy subject lines

Subject lines your patrons will click

🤩 Swooning over these subject lines

Subject lines for all audiences

Boost open rates with these subject lines

Subject line best practices

Email subject lines that are fun and memorable



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Here are Some Subject Line Examples Your Library Can Try Using

"Don’t know what to do with the kids at home?"
Address patrons’ concerns and put yourself in their shoes. What are some of their challenges? What would be some of the things they are thinking about? Right now, many parents are juggling working from home while their kids’ extracurricular activities are cancelled. Some kids are even attending school virtually from home while the parents work from home beside them! That’s a lot to juggle, and coming up with ideas to keep the kids busy and entertained can be pretty daunting and overwhelming. This subject line would be great to promote your kids’ programs.

"Escape Your Routine"
This subject line is similar to the one above in that it addresses current events and highlights what recipients’ might be thinking or desiring. There are different travel restrictions worldwide, and even in places where there aren't any, many are concerned with traveling. Most people haven’t had a break from their daily monotony for months. Escaping from their routine would be high on people’s wish list. Could the subject line be, “Books that will help you escape your routine”? Maybe. But the shorter option above is more mysterious and will entice people to want to know more.

"What did you think?"
Is your library looking to increase community engagement and add more reader reviews to its roster? Then, this subject line might be worth a try. The open-ended question format will intrigue and open up the lines of communication.


BiblioEmail Increase Community Activity and Engagement with a Catchy Email Subject LineCommunity comments add a ton of value for patrons looking through your collection. Why not promote community engagement in the catalog with a catchy email subject line?


"Can you name X, {first name}?"
Asking something that challenges the recipient and catches their competitive edge is a great way to drive engagement. The bonus here is that the subject line is personalized. Because it’s a casual question and it contains the recipient’s name, it sounds like someone is directly speaking to them.

"Uh-oh, it’s tax time"
Many people see tax time as a burden because it can be complicated, overwhelming, and time-consuming. There is so much to know about filing taxes, from deadlines, exceptions to deadlines, constantly changing rules, which forms to use, you name it! If your library is promoting resources like tax clinics or tax services, then use a subject line that will hit an emotional cord. This subject line relates to some of the angst recipients might feel around tax season.


There You Have It, 5 Tips and 5 Examples

We hope the tips and examples we shared above have inspired your email subject line endeavors! When a home is up for sale, the first impression buyers notice is the curb appeal. A manicured lawn, a fresh façade, and a welcoming entryway are more likely to increase the chances that home buyers will want to see the rest of the home. Your email subject lines are like a house’s curb appeal. The subject line is the first impression, and it should give visitors the desire to step right inside and learn more. Now go on and make the best email first impression you can make!



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