How to Write an Outline: 4 Ways to Organize Your Thoughts

When I was a novice writer, I chafed at the idea of using an outline. I was certain organizing my thoughts in advance would stifle my creativity and make my writing stiff and uninspired. After all, how can serendipity happen if you’ve got everything planned?

But then I started creating content for a living, and I needed to turn out several polished articles every week. I write at least 240,000 words per year to earn my keep. That’s only about half of War and Peace, but it still feels like a lot. I try to write quickly so I’m not still awake toiling away at the keyboard at 1 a.m. with a cup of tea and a couple of graham crackers. (1 a.m. graham cracker calories do seem to count, by the way.)

I discovered that it was taking me a long time to finish my articles because, when my creative mind was unfettered, I had a tendency to ramble in a chaotic stream of consciousness that I would then have to go back and structure in order for it to make sense. Not only that, but I would over-research. I’d wind up with a thousand words before I realized I was only one third of the way through my article. I’d have to go back, refocus, trim down, and sometimes even start over.

And so, I started outlining. And it saved me. Not only from sleep deprivation, but from graham-cracker weight gain. Here’s my step-by-step process. And it works!

1 Do some reconnaissance reading.

Unless I know my topic inside and out, I start with a little reconnaissance reading. I head to Google and look at what others have written on my topic. I try to think of new and interesting ways to address it. I look for an angle.

The easiest way to find an angle is to look for knowledge gaps in the articles you scan. Let’s use this article as an example. I searched to see what others had written on the topic of how to write an outline. I found a lot on the basics of structure, but not much about how to actually use outlines to improve the organization of your writing. Voila! An angle!

As you’re reading, take notes when you see interesting research or quotes you might want to share. Note the URLs, too, so you can reference them with links in your article. I keep my notes in a Google Doc on the same page where I’m eventually going to create my outline and write my article. Having all the information in one place will allow you to write faster when the time comes.

Here’s a tip: Don’t go too far down the research rabbit hole! Remember, you’re just doing a little reconnaissance reading. It’s easy to over-research, which wastes valuable writing time. Plan to write first, and then add research later.

2 Write down your objective.

Now that you’ve figured out an angle, it’s helpful to write down an objective. What do you want the reader to understand by the end of this article? Put some thought into your objective and see if you can write it in one sentence. My objective for this article was:

At the end of this article, readers will understand why outlines are useful and how to use them to organize their writing.

Everything you write should support your objective. An objective will help you stay focused and prevent you from drifting off on tangents.

Here’s a tip: Academic papers often include a thesis statement. A thesis states a premise or theory that your paper will go on to prove. It’s different from an objective. If you need more specific help with writing a thesis statement, try checking with any university writing center.

3 Create a list of all the main points you want to make.

I often begin this step while I’m doing my recon reading and ideas are popping into my head. This can be a quick brainstorming process. Don’t invest a lot of energy in organizing just yet. You’ll get to that in the next step.

4 Organize, revise, and eliminate.

Now it’s time to organize the list of points. Figure out the structure of your article. Will it work well as numbered how-to steps? A listicle? In standard essay format?

Take a look at the points you’ve jotted down and begin putting them into a logical order. Cross-check each point to make certain that it’s relevant to your objective. If you’ve strayed off the path and included extra information that doesn’t really fit the scope of your article, eliminate it.

Here’s a tip: Save things that don’t make it into your article—information that was extraneous to the article you’re working on now but may be interesting enough to pursue in a separate article some other time. I keep an idea file that I store as a Google Doc. Reference your file when you need a little article inspiration.

You may come across a few things that don’t quite fit into your article as their own sections, but seem important to mention nonetheless. Those elements make great sidebars. In this article, you’ll see them used as tips. Pretty nifty, huh?

As you revise, start putting your outline into a standard format. You don’t have to be too formal about this process, just organize everything into a bulleted or numbered list. (If you want to be traditional, use Roman numerals. I think they make my outlines look fancy.) Include topic segments. Under each topic segment, indent and include the points you’ll discuss in each paragraph. You don’t have to get too granular here—all you’re looking for is enough information to help you remember where you’re going and keep you organized and on track. My outline for this article looked like this:

I. Intro

A. I didn’t used to outline

B. Becoming a professional writer made me change my tune

C. Outlining brings structure to chaos

II. Do some recon reading

A. Look for angle, ways the topic has not been covered

1. Look for knowledge gaps

B. Take notes while you’re reading/record URLs

C. Don’t go too far down the research rabbit hole

III. Make a quick list of the points you want to make

IV. Organize the list into a formal outline

A. Get rid of anything that doesn’t support objective

1. Save extra stuff in a clip file for future use

B. Some extra stuff is worth keeping as tips/sidebars

C. Demonstrate standard outline format

An outline isn’t a prison—it’s there to guide you, not control you. You can take conscious detours, or change things around as you write. Outlines are just guidelines, so they shouldn’t feel restrictive. And yet, you’ll be surprised how the simple act of creating one will give your articles more structure and keep them focused and on-point. You’ll write with more clarity, and you’ll do it all faster and more efficiently. Outlines for the win!

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9 Things That Seriously Hurt Your Work Productivity

Bad habits are often a real sticking point in personal development. But what if we told you that you may have some distracting habits you might not even realize are holding you back?

Here are nine tough habits that can limit your productivity, and some ideas for moving past them.

1Keeping it too casual

Nowadays, it’s increasingly acceptable to dress informally at work, and most of us call our managers by their first names.

It can be tempting to take full advantage of flexibility in the workplace, but without some structure, your productivity—and reputation—can suffer. Dress comfortably, but don’t show up looking slovenly. Speak openly, but not too informally (definitely avoid offensive language and topics).

Remember, it’s an office where a team is working, not a dorm.

2Neglecting routine

We know that managing your morning is valuable. In fact, there are benefits to incorporating routine throughout your schedule.

According to LifeHack, routines limit distraction, allow you to focus on the work, and create opportunities for flow.

Furthermore, creating structure in your day-to-day work reduces the number of decisions you have to make, freeing up bandwidth for better willpower.

But setting a routine depends on you. Some people focus by designating themes for each day of the week. For example, Monday can be themed by organizational tasks. Others make a master list of their usual tasks and split it up throughout the day. Looking for inspiration? Go here.

3Being a slob

Research shows that a messy desk makes it tough for you to get stuff done. Unfortunately, it’s also a distraction for your team. In fact, 57 percent of surveyed workers reported judging a colleague for keeping a sloppy workspace.

Take some time every week to clear off your desk. I suggest doing it Friday before you leave so you can start the week with a tidy space.


Gossip is for bonding. Some even theorize that language developed in order to gossip! Whether it’s about the new person on X team or the latest thing Stephen Colbert said about Insert-World-Leader, it’s important to monitor your gossiping carefully.

Gossip can give you a bad reputation—even if you’re sharing well-intentioned news or information with broad agreement. You might isolate some people or make them uncomfortable, not to mention potentially jeopardize others’ trust in you.

Gossip spirals. Once you start gabbing, you keep gabbing. At the office, it keeps you from your work, and the noise distracts others.

Don’t stop all socializing, though. Be cognizant of the possible reactions coworkers may have. Choose safe and polite topics and aim to do the majority of your chatting during breaks and in designated social spaces.

5Not Using Sick Days

If you go to work when you’re sick, you deliver sub-par results and put coworkers at risk of illness.

Sadly, I admit that I did this once and made my coworker very sick. I had a rough cold but showed up to work anyway. That was a big mistake. It turns out my colleague had an autoimmune disease, and a few days later, was out and suffering.

The immediate cost of my “bravery” was a few (crappy) work days where I didn’t get much done. The extended cost was that a key member of our team was M.I.A. for several days.

The lesson: Take your sick days. Stay home. Rest. Everyone will thank you.

6Responding to emails and messages immediately

When micro-tasks, like messages, seduce us into multitasking, it takes several minutes to recover the momentum we lose.

So, stop. Stop answering messages and emails as they come in.

Batch them.

Set aside time each day to check emails. Block it off in your calendar. (Here’s why you should check email in the morning.)

If you are using a messenger or SMS, snooze your alerts until you have a block of time to catch up. Use Slack’s “Remind me” feature to save messages for when you can address them.

7Overlooking basic organization

You don’t have to train to be an organizational mastermind. Instead, learn to use lists effectively and update your shared calendar. Feeling wild? Set a reminder or two.

If the word “organization” gives you hives, find out who the “organized people” are on your team and ask them how they do it. Most people love to share about things they are good at.

8Never unplugging

Learning how to take a break allows you to get some space, recharge, and come back to work with vigor.

Unfortunately, overwork is highly valued in U.S. culture. This tendency has only been compounded by economic recessions and stagnation—some employees fear that taking time off could jeopardize their jobs.

Because it’s hard to work productively if you’re miserable, or sick, there’s good reason to take a break now and again. Rest. Go on vacation, and truly disconnect.

9Repeating mistakes and not owning up

If you’re repeating mistakes or deflecting when they happen, you’re missing out on learning and growth—and you’re sacrificing productivity.

Responsibility and ownership shows maturity and professionalism while opening the door to improvement. By learning from your mistakes, you’ll work better and faster in the future.

The first step, though, is admitting you’ve slipped up and figuring out how to do better.

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Quiz: How Good Are You with Job Interviews?

Job interviews are hard.

The anticipation and anxiety about doing well or messing up can be worse than a first date with a crush.

In our society, we place a lot of importance on job interview performance, which is why it can be surprising to see just how little many people know about interview questions and basic interview etiquette.

To help you understand whether you’re on track, we put together a simple quiz that will test your understanding of good interview habits.


Do you need to brush up on your interview skills? Here are our top interview tips.

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14 Career Development Books That Will Help You Reach Your Goals

Do you need a hand? These fourteen career development books will show you how you can move your job goals in the right direction.

The Classics

People who get stuff done share at least seven common traits. In The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey, you’ll learn what the seven practices are and how you can acquire them.

Though ruling a nation might not be your career goal, you can glean a lot of wisdom from The Emperor’s Handbook, a translation of Meditations written by Marcus Aurelius, which includes some “unique features for contemporary readers.”

For Women

Sheryl Sandberg, former chief of staff for the United States Treasury Department and author of Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead, has also held prominent positions at hugely successful companies such as Google and Facebook. If you like your advice to contain a combination of hard evidence, humor, and personal anecdotes, this is the career guide for you.

According to the Washington Post, #GIRLBOSS by Sophia Amoruso is “Lean In for misfits.” Sophia didn’t start her career with a Harvard education as Sheryl Sandberg did; instead, she worked her way up from petty thief to eBayer to . . . well, read the book and find out!

Every female leader has pearls of wisdom to share with her counterparts. Grace Bonney compiles the best of the best in her book In the Company of Women: Inspiration and Advice from over 100 Makers, Artists, and Entrepreneurs.

For Minorities

If you’re a minority looking to advance, there are some realities you’ll have to face. Good Is Not Enough: And Other Unwritten Rules for Minority Professionals by Keith R. Wyche gives practical advice for dealing with unique challenges in the workplace.

Authors Richard L. Zweigenhaft and G. William Domhoff examine the personal histories of talented modern forerunners in the world of business in The New CEOs: Women, African American, Latino, and Asian American Leaders of Fortune 500 Companies. What imitable factors lead to their success?

For People with Disabilities

Employment Options: The Ultimate Resource for Job Seekers with Disabilities and other Challenges includes interactive worksheets so readers can assess their strengths and weaknesses. After all, according to author Paula Reuben Viellet, you have to know who you are now before you develop a plan for improvement.

For Recent Graduates

If you’re a new graduate, you probably have lots of dreams, but you may not know how to realize them. In So Good They Can’t Ignore You, professor Cal Newport tells you why you shouldn’t follow your passion . . . and what you should follow instead.

Those who land a job after college may be wondering, “Now what?” Emily Bennington and Skip Lineberg demystify the process of climbing the corporate ladder in Effective Immediately: How to Fit In, Stand Out, and Move Up at Your First Real Job.

For Science and Math-Lovers

An algorithm is a set of rules a computer follows to solve a problem or equation. Algorithms to Live By: The Computer Science of Human Decisions by Brian Christian and Tom Griffiths explores what your life would be like if used the same rigorous standards for challenges and decisions.

In Sleep Smarter: 21 Essential Strategies to Sleep Your Way to a Better Body, Better Health, and Bigger Success, athlete-turned-author Shawn Stevenson answers this question: Can sleeping differently affect your career development? Try a fourteen-day sleep makeover before you make up your mind about the link between sleep and success!

For Everyone

Martin Seligman, the author of Flourish: A Visionary New Understanding of Happiness and Well-being, shares a lifetime of psychological research along with absorbing stories and “flashes of brilliance,” says fellow psychologist and author Sonja Lyubomirsky. If you enjoyed his previous books Learned Optimism and Authentic Happiness, you won’t want to miss his new offering.

What were you born to do? You may find out if you read Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise by Anders Ericsson and Robert Pool. Their findings from studying virtuosos in diverse fields will change everything you think you know about innate skill.

Which book on this list interests you the most? Here’s a goal you can accomplish today: Acquire a copy! The sooner you start reading, the sooner you can use the expert advice to reach your career goals.

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10 Best Grammar Resources for Teachers

How do teachers motivate students to embrace good grammar 365 days of the year and not just on World Teachers’ Day? These ten grammar resources might be just what you need.

1 Visual Aids If students visualize how grammar works, they will be able to understand sentence structure. For example, an infographic on explains what a dangling participle is. Here’s their example sentence: “After rotting in the cellar for weeks, my brother brought up some oranges.” The illustration of a zombie holding an orange helps students see that sentence structure matters. In fact, it’s the difference between life and death! If you don’t have wall space for a poster, take advantage of the following grammar resource.

2 Online Courses According to its website, the Grammar Challenger helps students “master fifty of the trickiest . . . grammar, punctuation, and word usage” concepts. A pictorial explanation accompanies each grammar point. There are also four hundred practice questions. Whether you choose this online course or another, make sure that there are plenty of opportunities for students to practice what they learn.

3 Interactive Whiteboard Activities Interactive whiteboards project your computer screen on a dry-erase whiteboard. Students can view and interact with the images, play games, type, or do other computer tasks. According to the National Education Association, “The technology allows teachers to integrate multiple information streams into a coherent lesson individualized for their students. Interactive whiteboards provide an extraordinary opportunity to create classroom environments where students with different learning styles can engage and learn from each other.”

4 Games What if students could learn and play at the same time? One game on the British Council website teaches how to form sentences using present simple and present continuous tenses. A ticking timer measures students’ speed as they attempt to put a sentence in logical order. Teachers take note: Some British English grammar conventions are different from American ones.

5 Lesson Plans If you are looking for an effective way to teach a grammar point, other teachers are happy to share what works for them. Ask around at your school or search for lesson plans online. One website where teachers share ideas is Though some teachers sell their lesson plans and worksheets, there are many free items.

6 Gap-Fill Activities Did you ever do Mad Libs? A partner tells you the part of speech missing from a paragraph. You provide a noun, adjective, etc. Because you don’t know what the text is about, your random verbs and nouns make for funny reading when your partner reveals the paragraph you completed. Gap-fills help students to identify parts of speech and understand how vocabulary works in different contexts. You can find gap-fills on ESL websites, such as, or make your own.

7 Songs Songs make excellent mnemonic devices. Mr. A, Mr.C, and Mr. D are teachers who use modern tunes to teach grammar ideas. The official story on their website is that a giant shoe-shaped spacecraft crashed near their home. They used songs to teach Bertram, the confused alien pilot, about Earth and the English language. Fortunately, they are willing to share their music with human pupils as well, so you can find their catchy melodies on iTunes and SoundCloud.

8 Online Grammar-Checking Software The brief grammar explanations that Grammarly provides reveal the “why” behind mistakes. Teachers can also use the tool to make sure the handouts and emails they share with their students are error-free.

9 Reference Books If you are a native English speaker, you may know the right word to use without understanding the grammar behind it. Reference books provide explanations that you can share with your students. The Only Grammar Book You’ll Ever Need by Larry Shea is one of the top-selling titles in its genre on Amazon.

10 Worksheets Practice makes perfect! Students need to reinforce their skills. Design your own worksheets easily at

Which of these resources will you use on World Teachers’ Day? It might be fun to do a gap-fill activity, sing a song together, or play a game. Whatever you do, help your students to see that grammar can be as fun as it is useful.

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9 Awesome YouTube Accounts for Tech Enthusiasts

Whether it’s the latest tech industry innovations, what’s next in space travel, or the most obscure gadgets out there, there’s a lot happening in tech. How to keep up with the trends?

A lot of tech innovators and enthusiasts have launched YouTube channels to talk about tech news, provide product reviews and how-tos, and explore new experiments in tech that are just starting to make a splash. Here are nine of our favorite YouTube channels on a wide variety of tech-related topics.

CNET. 1.4M subscribers.

CNET has one of the best and most established tech-focused YouTube channels. They’ve got tutorials, interviews (hi, Mark Zuckerberg), advice for finding and using new devices, exclusive coverage of big conferences and tech events, and first looks at new releases including cars, home appliances, computers, smartphones and watches, and more. You’re bound to find all sorts of tidbits on anything you’re searching for (or didn’t even know you were searching for).

Mashable. 526K subscribers.

Mashable covers robots, jetpacks, VR, and other toys of the future, but also your present-day gadgets and gizmos. Mashable’s short, digestible videos can help you fix your current tech problems and also stay on the cutting edge.

MKBHD. 5M subscribers.

Marques “MKBHD” Brownlee is one of the most popular tech-focused YouTubers out there, and for good reason. His videos have good camera work and high-quality production value, and often a nice dash of humor. The content includes first impressions as Marques unboxes new gadgets, as well as explanations, features of his favorite hot tech, and answers to subscribers’ questions.

Tech Insider. 922K subscribers.

A spinoff of Business Insider, Tech Insider dives into big issues in tech. Sometimes there’s a business side to the inside scoop (a Tesla road trip, features on top-selling devices), but there are lots of videos that show the fun side to digital culture and tech innovations, too (inflatable obstacle courses, how deep the ocean is, scary VR games). For learning about how tech works and weird inventions that aren’t mainstream (yet), Tech Insider is a great hub.

Techquickie. 1.6M subscribers.

If you want tech, and you want it quick, Techquickie has got you covered. The videos are usually about five minutes and peppered with humorous asides. They generally fall into three categories: first, answering those questions you never knew you had (why do you have to use airplane mode? What’s a safe temperature for your computer? What are URLs, really?); second, fixes for your malfunctioning gadgets; and third, DIY projects for the technologically ambitious.

TechCrunch. 295K subscribers.

TechCrunch is like a bag of assorted candies where you can’t decide your favorite, so you just keep eating and eating. The formats range from interviews to news reports to talk shows (ish), and the topics include startups, space travel, transportation, gaming, Apple-focused news, robotics, and of course, gadget reviews. As far as range and depth of coverage, TechCrunch is one to beat.

Unbox Therapy. 8.6M subscribers.

It’s hard to imagine taking gadgets out of boxes as therapeutic until you’ve seen Unbox Therapy get into it. It’s no listening to the ocean, but it sure is entertaining. These videos, usually five to ten minutes, get into the nitty-gritty of a wide range of brand new tech. Some devices only show up once (how many $5,000 massage chairs can be there be?), but Lewis gets in-depth with video series that focus on different categories of products, like headphones, phone cases, speakers, and keyboards. Seriously, there’s a lot of variety in keyboards. Yes, there’s one made out of wood.

The Verge. 1.5M subscribers.

The Verge is another one with a lot of content and a ton of variety. They’ve got handy reviews and how-tos for the devices you’re likely to have, as well as series on things like space travel, consumer electronics events, and the latest experiments in technology, involving everything from airplanes to human emotions.

Grammarly. 99K subscribers.

Need a break from exploring tech’s latest and greatest, or maybe desperate to know whether you need an “affect” or an “effect” in your work report? Well, we’ve got you covered.

Need a break from exploring tech’s latest and greatest, or maybe desperate to know whether you need an “affect” or an “effect” in your work report? Well, we’ve got you covered. Grammarly’s YouTube channel explores the intersection of tech, writing right, and communication for business. Had to sneak that one in there.

This list scratches the surface, but there are tons of great tech-focused YouTube channels out there. What are your favorites? Join the brainstorm by sharing your picks in the comments section.

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Please Find Attached: Do You Need to Notify Your Audience?

When I was new to the job market and mailing out resumes (although I’m dating myself, I’ll admit that this was well before the days of email), I sent my carefully crafted cover letters with a note that read:

Enclosed please find my resume.

One such mailing resulted in an interview. There I was in the wood-paneled office of an immaculately groomed lawyer. While I waited anxiously in an oversized leather wingback chair, he sat at his desk clicking his pen top and scanning my resume and cover letter. He looked up suddenly and grinned, pointing at the letter. “I love it when people write ‘Enclosed please find my resume.’ I didn’t even know your resume was lost!”

It was an embarrassing moment. I’d mimicked the business letter style I’d been taught in high school typing class, not to mention every other business letter I’d seen or received. But this interviewer pointed out just how inane and stuffy business-speak can be. I never used enclosed please find again.

These days, we’re more likely to want to call attention to attachments than items included with a mailed letter, but people still use please find attached all the time. Is this business writing holdover necessary?

Is there any reason to use please find attached?

Nope! There’s no need for this phrase. And there are several great reasons to dump it.

For starters, it sounds stuffy and old-fashioned. Even in formal correspondence, your goal should be to communicate in a straightforward, conversational way, free of wordiness or jargon. Please find attached is wordy jargon at its worst. It’s also a bit redundant to say that something is attached and then direct the recipient to please find it.

Another oddity with attached please find is that it’s a command when it doesn’t need to be. The popular English language blog, Separated by a Common Language, puts it this way:

There’s no need to boss around the other person to go about finding things, since the sentence is just communicating “I have attached a document for you”. In fact, it would be just plain weird to put this into another request form like Could you please find the document attached? or I would be very grateful if you would find the document attached. This underscores that please find attached is not much of a request at all. It is instead a set phrase in imperative form that does a not-very-requesty job.

Is “please find attached” essential legal language?

Attached please find reads like legalese, so you might wonder whether it’s necessary in a legal document. Writing expert Bryan Garner says no.

You see canned phrases like enclosed please find and as per all the time in letters. They’re high-sounding but low-performing. Your letters will be much clearer and more engaging without them.

Is please find attached grammatically correct?

Technically, there’s nothing wrong with saying something like “Please find the attached document.” Although find can mean to come upon something by searching for it (hence the smart-alec lawyer’s assertion that my resume must be lost), find also means to recognize or discover that something is present. Because you want your recipient to discover what you’ve attached, please find works.

But, for the reasons I just gave you above, you’re still better off avoiding it.

What are some alternatives to please find attached?

It’s easy to avoid this phrase. Just use direct language and drop the business lingo. Here are a few alternatives:

  • I’ve attached [item].
  • Please have a look at the attached [item].
  • The [item] you asked for is attached.
  • Please refer to the attached [item] for more details.
  • The attached [item] includes . . .

Attachment Etiquette 101

There are a few etiquette guidelines to follow when using attachments.

1 Give a heads-up before sending an attachment if it’s unexpected.

Giving your recipient notice when you send an attachment is good form. Attachment-transmitted viruses have made us wary of opening those we don’t expect. (If your work involves sending attachments back and forth regularly, this probably isn’t necessary.)

2 Call attention to attachments.

Let your recipient know the attachment is there. People often miss them, so a little notification (via the alternative phrases suggested above) will help you avoid confusion.

3 If you mention an attachment, don’t forget it!

We’ve all done this. (I call it “attachmentitis.”) If you mention an attachment in your email, don’t forget to actually attach it. If you do forget, and catch your mistake only after you’ve hit Send, a quick reply to the thread saying “Here’s the attachment. Sorry about that!” should do the trick.

4 Don’t attach huge files.

Not only do email clients have file size limits, but large files can take a long time to download, especially on mobile. (You don’t want to eat up your recipient’s mobile data allotment, do you?) If you have a large file to transfer, use a service like Dropbox or send it via a link to an online document, like Google Docs.

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20 Email Subject Lines That Will Get Opened Every Time

Did you know that 33 percent of email recipients decide whether or not to open an email based on subject line alone? If you want your email read, you’ve got to get it opened first. Here are twenty powerful headers to try for four different types of email outreach, plus a few helpful tips for creating subject lines that work.


Met you at [event]. Let’s connect!

If you’ve met your contact before, and you’re convinced they’d remember the meeting favorably, it’s always helpful to bring it up

Aspiring [profession] seeking advice from the best

Is there someone in your desired industry that you admire? Flattery will often get an email opened.

[Referrer name] recommended I get in touch

A referral will often get you in the door, so don’t be afraid to name-drop right from the subject line.

[Topic] is a passion of mine, too!

You’ve scoured your contact’s blog and social channels and discovered that you both have an interest in hockey. This is fate! Break the ice (ha ha) by referring to a common interest.

Fellow [university] alum looking to connect

If you went to the same college, even if your paths never crossed, use a little school spirit to get a foot in the door.

Sales and Marketing Pitches

X ideas to help you with [problem]

We humans like numbers. Email subject lines with numbers are opened more often. Drop a number, and then offer to give your contact help with some challenge and you’re likely to catch their attention.

How to [accomplish a task]

Let’s say you’re offering customized meal plans. A subject line like “How to become an awesome cook in one week” is sure to get attention.

Only three spots left in [topic] workshop

Tell people that a deadline’s coming up and most of them just shrug. Oh, well. If I miss the deadline, it’s whatever. Tell them there are only three spots left (or twenty-four hours left to save $100, or only four magical squirrel catapults left in stock) and FOMO kicks in. We’re competitive creatures, and no one wants to miss out.

3 out of 4 people are deficient in this mineral. Are you?

Subject lines that create curiosity are infinitely clickable. Don’t you want to know what mineral you’re likely to be deficient in? (We don’t know, either. We made it up. That’s not the point.) If you can make your recipient curious to find the answer to something, you’re more likely to get them to engage.

Introducing [product], a better way to [accomplish a task]

People are curious about new things. Campaign Monitor discovered that emails with “introducing” or “new” in the subject line increased the chance of the email being opened by 9.45% and 3.26% respectively.

Content Promotion

Do not commit these epic Twitter fails

This subject plays off the curiosity gap, but it also suggests that the recipient might be making some critical errors, which makes it a must-open email.

My biggest [topic] mistake

We want to read confessional content. If we’ve made similar mistakes, then we’re reassured that we’re not alone. If we’ve avoided the mistake, we feel grateful. It’s a win-win.

28 ways to get organized right now

Again, we’re using numbers. If the content you’re promoting uses a numbered format, then use that in your subject line. People respond to numbers, and they like tips, too!

What you must know to protect yourself from identity theft

Any time you tell your recipient that there may be a gap in their knowledge, you encourage them to open your email to find out more.

I wrote this for you

Okay, it’s a bit gimmicky, but email subject lines like this work. They feel personalized. Just make sure you deliver some intimate, compelling content or you’ll lose your reader’s trust.

Asking for Something

Spare five minutes to give your expert feedback?

We like to be thought of as experts. We like to know that our opinions matter. Asking for feedback is often fairly easy. Reminding your contact that your request will only take five minutes helps it seem manageable.

I would really appreciate your help with [subject]

Not everyone wants to be helpful, but most people do like to be appreciated. Ask for help in a polite, straightforward way that expresses gratitude.

Urgent call for volunteers. Are you in?

Saying that you have an urgent need alone might do the trick, but adding a call to action right in your subject header can stir a more immediate response. The question “Are you in?” subtly implies that others are and urges the recipient not to miss out.

What are you doing Friday night?

Okay, so, maybe you’re going to ask your recipient to do something they’d rather not, like answer phones at the telethon or stay late to help with a special project. But you’ve got to get them to open your email plea first. This subject line is just vague and intriguing enough to do the trick.

Would you share this story on your social channels?

People often make the mistake of burying their ask so deeply in their email that the recipient isn’t even sure what they’re asking for. This type of subject header cuts straight to the chase and tells the recipient exactly what you want.

Subject Header Tips

  • Don’t promise anything you can’t deliver. If your subject header promises to offer twenty great tips for starting a ferret farm, your email had better point to a website with those tips. Otherwise, you’ll lose trust.
  • Keep it short. Although 65-character-long email headers do seem to result in opens, it helps to be aware of the issues longer headers may cause. People read emails on their mobile phones, where a subject line over 25 to 30 characters may be truncated.
  • Avoid filler words and phrases. Your space is limited. Use it wisely!
  • Don’t use all caps or excessive punctuation. When you use all caps online, you look like you’re shouting! No one likes to be shouted at. Excess punctuation (like multiple exclamation points or question marks) looks amateurish and desperate. Both all caps and over-punctuating can also trigger spam filters.
  • Speaking of spam filters . . . here are some of the best ways to avoid them.

The post 20 Email Subject Lines That Will Get Opened Every Time appeared first on Grammarly Blog.

from Grammarly Blog

Lesson 276 – Parts of the Sentence – Adjective, Adverb, and Noun Clauses

The adjective clause is used to modify a noun or a pronoun. It will begin with a relative pronoun (who, whose, whom, which, and that) or a subordinate conjunction (when and where). Those are the only words that can be used to introduce an adjective clause. The introductory word will always rename the word that it follows and modifies except when used with a preposition which will come between the introductory word and the word it renames. Examples: The student whose hand was up gave the wrong answer. Whose hand was up is the adjective clause with whose, the relative pronoun, renaming and modifying student. Jane is a person in whom I can place my confidence. Whom I can place my confidence is the adjective clause with whom, the relative pronoun, with the preposition inbetween it and person the word that whom renames and modifies.
An adverb clause is a dependent clause that modifies a verb, adjective or another adverb. It usually modifies the verb.
Adverb clauses are introduced by subordinate conjunctionsincluding after, although, as, as if, before, because, if, since, so that, than, though, unless, until, when, where, and while. These are just some of the more common ones.
Example: They arrived before the game had ended. (“before the game had ended” is the adverb clause modifying the verb arrived telling when.)
A noun clause is a dependent clause that can be used the same ways as a noun or pronoun. It can be a subject, predicate nominative, direct object, appositive, indirect object, or object of the preposition. Some of the words that introduce noun clauses are that, whether, who, why, whom, what, how, when, whoever, where, and whomever. Notice that some of these words also introduce adjective and adverb clauses. (To check a noun clause substitute the pronoun it or the proper form of the pronouns heor she for the noun clause.) Examples: I know who said that. (I know it.) Whoever said it is wrong. (He is wrong.) Sometimes a noun clause is used without the introductory word. Example: I know that he is here. (I know he is here.)
Instructions: Find the adjective, adverb, or noun clauses in these sentences.  If it is an adjective or adverb clause, tell which word it modifies, and if it is a noun clause, tell if it is used as the subject, predicate nominative, direct object, appositive, indirect object, or object of the preposition.
1. Donna is my mother-in-law who died several years ago.
2. Atlantic City is where the Boardwalk is located.
3. The man had another back operation because he ruptured another disk.
4. A nurse can find a job wherever she goes.
5. Now I understand why you didn’t want to attend.
–For answers scroll down.

1. who died several year ago = adjective clause modifying the predicate nominative mother-in-law
2. where the Boardwalk is located = noun clause used as the predicate nominative
3. because he ruptured another disk = adverb clause modifying the verb had
4. wherever she goes = adverb clause modifying the verb can find
5. why you didn’t want to attend = noun clause used as the direct object

For your convenience, all of our lessons are available on our website in our lesson archive at Our lessons are also available to purchase in an eBook and a Workbook format.
from Daily Grammar Lessons Blog

Quiz for Lessons 271 – 275 – Parts of the Sentence – Noun Clauses

Instructions: Find the noun clauses in the following sentences and tell how they are used.  (Subject, predicate nominative, direct object, appositive, indirect object, or object of the preposition)
1. How the prisoner escaped is a mystery.
2. My feeling is that the robbery was an inside job.
3. Everyone is wondering how he could just disappear.
4. The news that he had escaped frightened the whole town.
5. The police have offered whoever finds the stolen diamonds a reward.
6. The family has had no word about where he might be.
7. That we were ready to go was a miracle.
8. Give whoever wants to go a ride to the game.
9. That you are losing ground was evident from the polls.
10. Whoever injured the handicapped woman must be feeling guilty.
–For answers scroll down.

1. How the prisoner escaped = subject
2. that the robbery was an inside job = predicate nominative
3. how he could just disappear = direct object
4. that he had escaped = appositive
5. whoever finds the stolen diamonds = indirect object
6. where he might be = object of the preposition
7. That we were ready to go = subject
8. whoever wants to go = indirect object
9. That you are losing ground = subject
10. Whoever injured the handicapped woman = subject

For your convenience, all of our lessons are available on our website in our lesson archive at Our lessons are also available to purchase in an eBook and a Workbook format.
from Daily Grammar Lessons Blog