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6 Tips To Format Your Emails For Optimum Effect

Source | | Diana Kawarsky, MA, CCP

When it comes to sending emails, readability is paramount. After all, people are busy.  They don’t have time to be confused by reading your emails.

Like journalists who use the “inverted pyramid” to prioritize information in news-stories, making it easier for readers to receive the intended message, proper email formatting goes great lengths to make it easier for your readers to comprehend your intended message the first time.

Here are six tips to help your email recipients quickly read and easily understand your intended message.

1. Use short messages

Technology is continuously shortening information into easily consumable lengths, or what Glenn Engler calls “snackable content”.  Twitter restricts us to conveying thoughts in 140 characters, Vine videos last 6 seconds, Buzzfeed (the most socially shared news-site in the world) packages traditional “long form” content into simple lists.  Some recent studies indicate that our average attention spans are declining, now only equal to the time it takes to read a Tweet or a newspaper headline.

As a result, people are accustomed to skimming long pieces of text to pick out the most important points. Keep this in mind when writing your next email.

2. Use short paragraphs

Keep your paragraphs to four sentences or less. Readers should be able to read an entire paragraph without scrolling, even on a phone. Make your message easier to read by breaking up your information into short paragraphs, and by beginning each paragraph with a good introductory sentence. Good introductory sentences let your reader skim the text to find the key information they need.

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