You may be thinking, “This is a highly specific topic. How could there be a rabbit hole to this?” And we’re here to tell you, we originally didn’t think there was a lot of material to mine here. But as we started wading around in the subject line pool, we soon discovered how wrong we were. So let’s dive right in!
Maybe you’ve heard from someone — a client, a content expert, an acquaintance in the grocery store — that it is best practice to always end subject lines in punctuation to separate it from your PHT. Or maybe you’ve heard just the opposite: May a period NEVER appear in your SLs. It’s just not how things are.
We can tell you we’ve heard both and researched (a lot) without a definitive answer, and to us, that means there is no such thing as an overarching “best practice” here. There’s nuance to it, and you have to take every situation as it comes. However, we do have a few rules you can apply when it comes to “To end in punctuation, or to not end in punctuation” decision time.
Your Client Is Right
How you end a subject line is not a hill worth dying on — and trust us, we considered it. As established above, there’s no true right or wrong here. So, above all else, if your client feels strongly one way or another, learn it, love it, and consistently deliver on it.
Is It A Question?
If yes, you must conclude with a question mark.
Is It A Complete Sentence?
If yes, we highly recommend including end punctuation. To test, try a few with or with out:
[First_Name], our semi-annual sale is on!
[First_Name], our semi-annual sale is on
Here’s how to check your payment status.
Here’s how to check your payment status
Is It A Fragment? Or Multiple Fragments?
Here’s an instance where we say punctuation is not necessary, unless you’re setting a specific tone with your subject line.
All-New Right Now
Your free credit score
Limited-time offer + special financing
Exclusive savings just for you
*Here’s an exception to the rule we just introduced above*
Short, declarative full sentences don’t require end punctuation.
Your table is ready
Check your refund status
Your [Card_Name] bill is due soon
Are There Multiple Sentences/Fragments?
If yes, you must end both sentences with punctuation for consistency.
“Spring is here. Get ready to save” feels unfinished and sloppy.
“Spring is here. Get ready to save.” shows intention and emphasis.
When you’re using punctuation for emphasis on multiple fragments, you must be consistent throughout for the same reasons above.
One deal. One day. It all starts tonight.
One deal. One day. It all starts tonight
You get the idea.
Or if you don’t, we invite you to reach out to us to start a conversation!