Attachment Names and Subject Lines

In another round of going through my inbox of articles submitted to Home Education Magazine, I’m reeling from the number of similarly named articles. Writers have worked hard on their articles for HEM, which we appreciate. But at the moment of truth, when writers “save” or “name” their files, 90% make the same choice: “HEM Article.”

Inside a particular writer’s PC or Mac, “HEM Article” stands out as a particular piece of work. It is not the article written for Catfish Farming Today, and it is not the article written for Cat Fancy.

Unfortunately, in my brain, as well as in the clouds of HEM webmail and in the electrons of my laptop, “HEM Article” is one of 1.6 million articles so designated.

To complete the confusion, many writers submit their work attached to emails with a subject line of, you guessed it: “HEM Article.” I have a bazillion emails from different people, all with the subject line “HEM Article.”

Obviously, this makes distinguishing a particular “HEM Article” difficult.

Please, please have mercy on the articles editor. Name your file – not just your article – something that relates to the title or topic of your article. Curriculum Choice or School Recovery or Waldorf Mornings or Nature Walks. I may have another article in the tank that has a similar name, but I won’t have a million of ‘em.

As to subject lines of emails, use your last name, first initial and the topic of the article: Eillinger, R./Bio Labs, or Roberts, J./Math Texts, or Marshall, D./Environmentally Aware Homeschooling.

I’m sorry if this sounds like persnicketty-ness or a demand to make my life easier. This couldn’t be further from the truth. The truth is I am afraid. I am afraid I am going to miss an article our readers would be inspired by or benefit from, because my feeble brain will mistakenly think I’ve already evaluated the article, which was, of course, named “HEM Article.”

I just do not want to miss looking at any submitted articles; our homeschooler-to-homeschooler approach depends on these stories.

Bottom line: Make your submission distinct by using a descriptive file name and author’s name/title in the email subject line.

3 Responses to Attachment Names and Subject Lines

  1. Ann Alexander Shaw on October 29, 2009 at 9:21 am

    Oh, Jeanne. Please don’t feel bad about organizing your potentially published writers. If we are published it’s a feather in the cap and I believe you pay for the articles. Editors ask for formatting of files to fit their systems and minimize confusion. This is a more personal environment, I realize, but you are right about the possibility of missing wonderful material. I am familiar with that situation. Are you willing to put your file naming request in the instructions to writers that wish to submit an article? Writers that submit articles to other publications and write articles for pay are used to the drill. It’s a necessity for both sides. Keep doing what you do. Trust your writers to help you find their heartfelt and wonderful articles. I would guess that you only need to let them all know. Homeschoolers are generally a cooperative bunch, as you know, and homeschoolers willing to share their experiences go a step beyond.

  2. Judith Waite Allee on October 30, 2009 at 3:13 pm

    Thanks, Jeanne, for the insight. It’s a reminder to writers that a cool title is in itself a marketing tool. By the way, you might want to consider including something about this in your writers’ guidelines, if you didn’t already.

  3. Keith Wilcox on November 5, 2009 at 11:29 am

    That’s funny. sometimes people don’t quite see the other side of the fence. I don’t think it’s persnickety at all. I used to read a lot of resumes, and they all started looking the same after a while. I craved one that was just a little different. And, you’re right. It’s easy to miss something good when the intro is so bland.

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