I have recently noticed that when I send out e-mail campaigns that Gmail is now including 'Unsubscribe' in the subject along with my actual subject. Is this now a common practice among e-mail providers or is it just Gmail?


Nick was 100% correct and I have made a few changes I decided to post:

I did not want to change my layout any and keep it the same yet Google pulls the first text it sees which was ALT text for an image. To correct this I inserted a 1x1 Transparent Picture with the ALT text that said what I want the Gmail Preview to say. Works like a charm.

Here is the code for it:

<p align="center"><img style="color:#ffffff" 
src="http://mysite.com/Images/skin/spacer1x1.png" width="1" height="1" 
alt="ALT Text" /></p>

I put the color there to ensure the text blends in to the background because I do not want it visible in the e-mail for users who have images disabled.

  • 5
    Are you sure that the word ‘unsubscribe’ is appearing in the subject line and not in the message preview area to the right of the subject line? Gmail includes the first part of the email in the preview. If you have the unsubscribe link in the email header it will show the word 'unsubscribe' in the preview. You could simply move it to the footer. I recommend using a short summary of the message in the email header so that appears in the preview area instead.
    – Nick
    Dec 15, 2011 at 7:41
  • If @Nick is incorrect, could you please add an image of what the issue looks like in GMAIL? That might help us answer the question. Dec 15, 2011 at 14:52
  • Thanks, I will look into this as I am not sure about the header exactly unless my CMS is sticking it there.
    – L84
    Dec 15, 2011 at 17:11
  • @Nick - You mention e-mail headers, while I understand some of e-mail headers how do I put a message preview in the e-mail header?
    – L84
    Dec 15, 2011 at 17:20
  • Sorry for the confusion, Lynda. By 'header', I meant the opening line of the email as it appears in the message area that the recipient sees (not the more technical header information that's recorded but not shown to the user). I've posted an answer below that I hope explains it better, but feel free to comment if it's still not clear.
    – Nick
    Dec 15, 2011 at 17:45

1 Answer 1


It sounds like Gmail is picking up the word 'Unsubscribe' from the opening line of your email newsletter, then displaying that in the message preview to the right of the subject line.

The text I've outlined in red is the message preview in Gmail:

Gmail message preview

Here's where Gmail pulls that from within the email itself:

Gmail message example

As you can see, the opening text of the email determines what Gmail displays as the preview.

You don't say in your question, but I suspect the emails you're sending begin with the word 'Unsubscribe' in the header, as seems to be common with off-the-shelf newsletter templates. The solution is to edit the newsletter template to put that unsubscribe link in the footer of your email instead of at the top.

You could then put something more welcoming at the top of your emails instead of 'Unsubscribe' -- a short summary of the email content, for example. This will likely boost your open rates and reduce your unsubscribe rates, as well as proving less confusing in Gmail, where the subject line and message preview appear to run together.

  • What gets me is the word unsubscribe is always at the bottom. In some cases it is actually pulling ALT text for where I have an image. I am going to try a few things to correct this and will post back here the solution. Thanks for your help and information.
    – L84
    Dec 15, 2011 at 18:10
  • @Lynda It sounds like Google is scanning your email and finding what it deems to be useful summary text, be it alt text or footer text, possibly because there isn't much other text to choose from. Make sure your email contains some text at the very top before any images.
    – Nick
    Dec 15, 2011 at 18:20
  • I will, and yes the e-mails are text light but that is because of what the newsletters are. They are paid subscription with an image as the main feature (I am being abbreviated here to describe the newsletters) and the image is always first and foremost but I might have a way to solve it. We will see.
    – L84
    Dec 15, 2011 at 23:06
  • Thanks for your help, I updated my question to show what I have done to overcome this issue. It works like a charm.
    – L84
    Dec 16, 2011 at 2:45

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