We team members are discussing a matter on an email which is replied by around 10 people with their suggestions. Now I want to forward this email to a person who is supposed to take a action.

I want to forward this same discussion email and request for action, but the subject line is not effective with respect to the current scenerio.

Do I modify this subject line to make it more effective, or are there any email etiquette rules against this?

  • I don't know about your email system or company policy, but why don't you send this as a task?
    – user8365
    Commented Aug 26, 2013 at 17:55

4 Answers 4


I got the answer of this question -

we can use subject line prefix "WAS" as below-

"Re: What is the best kind of teapot? (WAS: What is the correct temp. for brewing tea?)"


  • 1
    It's not an abbreviation, it's the word 'was' in caps. As in 'the subject was'. Calling it an abbreviation implies it's something like html to hypertext markup language.
    – atk
    Commented Aug 22, 2013 at 2:27
  • 1
    This has been the accepted practice on public mailing lists and USENET for probably 20+ years.
    – alroc
    Commented Aug 22, 2013 at 13:03
  • I am not sure if this should be included when forwarding a conversation the original person wasn't privy to when none of the other conversation recipients are CC'd in the e-mail. The information wouldn't mean anything to anyone in that case.
    – jmac
    Commented Aug 26, 2013 at 4:10
  • @atk - HTML is an acronym.
    – user8365
    Commented Aug 26, 2013 at 17:57
  • Will this maintain the conversation feature of many newer email clients?
    – user8365
    Commented Aug 26, 2013 at 17:59

You can modify the subject and forward the thread. However, that probably isn't what you want to do.

Unless you are confident that the decision maker really wants to read through a long thread where ten different people have weighed in with their suggestions, the decision maker really needs a summary of what was discussed, the options on the table, and the consensus of the group about the pros and cons of the various options. When you produce that summary, there is no need to forward the existing long thread. That summary almost certainly deserves a separate email thread.

Not forwarding the email thread up the chain of command also has other benefits. When a team is discussing options internally, they tend to be quite a bit blunter than they would be when speaking to management or to other teams. They may make a joke or two or make a comment that someone outside the team might interpret differently. If you forward that sort of thread to decision-makers, that has a strong probability of embarrassing someone in the team.


Yes, you can change the subject, with three caveats:

  1. Don't edit the forwarded content (body of the forwarded messages)
  2. Don't eliminate important information like recipients of the prior e-mails, or timestamps (when the back and forth happened)
  3. Make sure that you state clearly why you are attaching the forwarded e-mail

Even if you edit the subject of your e-mail, the forwarded messages should still contain the original subjects they were sent with, and the original recipients. So long as you don't remove the identifying information (like sender, recipients, and times), and you don't edit the content of the e-mails you are forwarding, the person you forward it to won't lose any information even with a changed subject.

As Justin suggested, be sure that you make sure your body is clear about what you expect the person to do. To be safe, I would also suggest saying, "For reference, I've forwarded the discussion we had on this subject below" or something of the sort. This makes it doubly clear that the below messages are for reference only and weren't a conversation they were involved in.


One option is to make a new email, but then attach the original email chain to the message.

It is still a good idea to summarize the conversation, but having the entire chain as a separate attachment will allow the person to review the chain for more details. Adding the original email as an attachment highlights the important summary in the new email, while providing the historical context if they need it.

The new email should have the key people involved in the original chain cc'd so they know that the issue has now been sent to the correct person for action.

  • This is the best answer so far IMHO and I follow this approach in all such situations. Commented Aug 22, 2013 at 16:26

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