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The subject ( Subject. , Concerns ), as a sign also , situated in a letter , an email or a Usenet -Article a relationship of the writer and / or receiver to one thing, action required or event here.

The subject should be short and meaningful, ideally a short version of the content of the message or the topic. A short, concise subject line enables the recipient to quickly assign the subject and process the message. With the help of a meaningful and clear subject, the message can be arranged and facts can be tracked more easily. It is best to summarize the content of the message in the subject line in key words. Instead of an invitation to the meeting, there should be a board meeting of ABC-Holding, May 16, 2011 in Brussels .

The subject in legal pleadings with summarized formal content (file number, persons involved in the process, etc.) is the rubrum .


In letters , the subject line may for clarity in bold are.

According to DIN 5008 , the following formatting is recommended:

  1. There is no introduction with the word subject, subject, subject or the like, as was customary in the past.
  2. There should be two blank lines between the subject line and the salutation.
  3. The subject line should end without a period, although other punctuation marks, such as exclamation marks, may be used.
  4. A subject over several lines is also permitted.


Inbox with sender, subject and date of receipt

In the case of e-mails , the subject is in the header and is displayed in e-mail programs in the message overview and in the message itself.

Because of unsolicited mass e-mails (UBE), setting a subject that the recipient can understand is even more important than it used to be, when it was only used for brief information. A meaningful subject line makes it clear that this is not an automatically generated message from a mail worm. These often only use blanket and pointless subject lines such as Hi! , Your request or important! .

Short answer

Many e-mail programs automatically insert abbreviations in the subject, depending on whether an e-mail has been answered or forwarded:

( RE: or Re:) , from Latin to re , relating to a thing, is often understood as an abbreviation for the English reply.
( FWD: or Fwd:) forwarded, a forwarded message.

Some e-mail clients also use variants of these abbreviations that are not standardized according to the RfC. For example, Microsoft Outlook uses localized variants such as AW: (for answer) or WG: (for forwarded), which have also been converted into many other language variants in which Outlook is available.

These Germanized variants have become widespread, primarily because of their use in the business world, but they cause difficulties when exchanging e-mails with standard-compliant software. RfC 5322 only provides for the one-time Re: string , which is why mail clients such as Mozilla Thunderbird ignore the AW: and add a standard Re: to the subject line . The next time you answer in Outlook, the Re: is again ignored and another AW: is placed in front of it, which can turn the subject line into a Re: AW: Re: AW: Re: AW: Re: No subject after several iterations . To avoid this, Outlook can be switched to the use of standard-compliant subject prefixes.

In the business world, the subject is increasingly preceded by a processing note for the recipient:

Information, the sender sends the message to the recipient so that he is informed of the content, but does not expect a response. Similar to the abbreviation fyi ( for your information ) in the text.
Action, the sender expects the recipient to respond to the message.

Web links

Wiktionary: Subject  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. DIN 5008 from A to Z - subject. In: din-5008- Retrieved October 11, 2016 .
  2. RFC 5322  - Internet Message Format . October 2008. p. 28. (English).
  3. RFC 5322  - Internet Message Format . October 2008. Section 3.6.5: Informational Fields. (English).
  4. Why doesn't Thunderbird get along with Aw: instead of Re: in the subject? In: Retrieved November 16, 2013 .
  5. Use RE instead of AW when replying to e-mails. In: Retrieved November 16, 2013 .