General Writing and Grammar Help/Subject or subject line



Is it correct and natural to use "subject" in the sentence below or should I have used "subject line"?

This is the subject of an e-mail message I received from the Washington Post yesterday evening.

BTW, is the sentence itself correctly written?

Again, many, many thanks for your kind help.


ANSWER: Dear Paolo:

The subject and the subject line are often the same.  If the subject of the message is "How to use contractions," then those words should appear on the subject line.

Your sentence is correctly written.

NOTE:  Some people may choose to put some general topic in the subject line.

EXAMPLE:  Washington Post

*** The actual SUBJECT of the message, however, is NOT the newspaper.  It is a sentence that appears IN the newspaper.


---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------


I am sorry to get back to you but I still need your help.

I have two more questions:

1) Is it "ON the subject line" or "IN the subject line"? I am asking this because, in your answer, you first wrote, "then those words should appear ON the subject line" and immediately after you stated, "Some people may choose to put some general topic IN the subject line."

2) I don't understand your example. Would you please clarify?

Again, many, many thanks for your kind help.


Dear Paolo:

ON or IN can be used.  ON is better.  We started using IN because the computer generated little boxes IN which we type.

I want to send you a message about the conflict between blacks and whites in America.  My specific point is about crime.

I cannot type all of that IN the subject box or ON the subject line.  Instead, I write my "subject" as "race relations."  The problem is that my actual subject is not really the relationship between the races; it is about crimes committed by one race against another.

I use the very general "race relations" as my subject, but my real message is about a very, very specific kind of relationship:  crimes committed.


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Ted Nesbitt


I am the bibliographic instruction and reference librarian at a public college. Some members of the English department recommend me to their students. I offer assistance in grammar, punctuation, sentence structure, and paragraph development. My master`s thesis concerns William Faulkner`s tragic novels. I formerly taught advanced placement English at two schools in the Philadelphia area.


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B. A. and M. A in English; MSIS in Library & Information Sciences; graduate study in philosophy

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