Skip to main content

In addition to UCLA style and design guidelines, this section is compiled based on current best practices to help you create more effective email communications and campaigns. As email technology and platforms continually improve, these practices will also evolve.

Subject Lines

Good subject lines grab the attention of your subscribers and give them a reason to check out your content. Be direct and descriptive, and avoid misleading and overly clever subject lines.

Here are a few tips:

  • Limit subject lines to 32 characters – mobile users see only 30-35 characters.
  • Use sentence case. All caps may trigger spam filters, and title case seems less friendly.
  • Start with verbs and important keywords. Example: Dine with Bruin legend Bill Walton vs. Local Westwood sports legend meal


An email preheader is an additional line of preview text that displays in the inbox after the subject line. The preheader gives the recipient a better idea of what the email is about, and whether they should open it.

Here are a few tips:

  • Limit to 40-75 characters.
  • Lead with important keywords.
  • Add additional detail to support your subject line.
Example subject line:
Save up to 30% on school textbooks
Example preheader:
Offer expires Saturday


Email attention spans are short. Be concise with your copy and use email as a gateway to a landing page, where conversations and longer interactions happen.

Here are a few tips:

  • Keep language positive and friendly.
  • Use action words like save, get, watch and join.
  • Avoid negative words like don’t, never, cancelled and miss out.
  • Avoid overly enthusiastic adjectives like perfect, wonderful and amazing.
  • Use the second person voice – avoid future tense, whenever possible.
  • Proofread your message before sending.

AP Style is the preferred style for UCLA email communications. For more on copy and tone, see the UCLA Copy and Editorial section of Brand Guidelines.

Call to Action

A CTA (call-to-action) links readers to external content or asks them to do something. It is one of the most important pieces of content in an email.

Here are a few tips:

  • Always be direct and straightforward.
  • Design a visually appealing CTA button. Buttons perform better than text links.
  • A CTA button should be located near the top of the email.
  • Link to the appropriate destination page that delivers on the CTA’s promise.
  • Use actionable phrases, e.g. “Reserve your seat”

Lists and Unsubscribes

Always practice mindful use of mass email to be respectful of your recipients’ time and attention. Emails must display an unsubscribe button or link, which can be found in each UCLA brand email template.

Here are a few tips:

  • Keep email file size under 100KB. Emails over 120KB may trigger spam filters.
  • Be cautious linking to any websites of poor reputation in your email.
  • Place the unsubscribe button or link in an easy-to-find spot near the bottom of the email.
  • Use the word “unsubscribe” instead of ambiguous phrases like opt out, or delete.
  • The CAN-SPAM Act of 2003 established requirements and penalties around commercial emails, including content and opt-outs. It’s a good idea to review these rules before creating your email marketing strategy.


Email accessibility is the practice of designing your emails so that people with disabilities or assisted devices can view and interact with the content. UCLA brand templates are designed to help ensure that your emails are compliant.

Here are a few tips:

  • Choose large and readable fonts.
  • Keep content simple.
  • Use color contrast for better viewing – choose one text color and one background color.
  • Make clickable links and CTA prominent.
  • Avoid complicated animations and images.