Is it OK to change the subject line in an email conversation after it is started?

Image for teamwork by Michael GiuffridaSince email is not only used for communication but also for documentation, the subject line of an email is an important piece of the puzzle when filing and searching for information.  Often times, an email chain starts as one thing but morphs into something completely different once it gets rolling.  While I don’t usually recommend email for “working through things”, when it happens its important that the subject line reflect what the conversation was actually about.

In these cases, its completely proper to modify the subject line for subsequent exchanges of this topic to properly reflect the content.  A few things that I would recommend when doing this:

  1. Make a note in the email content as well as changing the subject line to notify the recipients of the change
  2. If the appropriate recipient list has changed as well, when making the change notify the inappropriate recipients that they will be dropped from the communication.
  3. File the last version of the “old” conversation as well as the last version of the “new” conversation for documentation purposes in the appropriate email folders.

One other note about changing the subject.  When you change the subject line, it does NOT change the “conversation” in Microsoft Outlook.  Therefore, if you “search for all messages in this conversation”, all messages from the original and new subject will appear as results.

Michael Giuffrida from Southington CT has been operating businesses since 1997.  He is an experienced entrepreneur in business management, profitable growth, business valuation, mergers and acquisitions, and information technology managed services.

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