The F Shape: Another challenge of writing email
The F Shape
Eye-tracking studies show that when reading websites, our eyes follow a distinct ‘F’ shape – we read all the way across the first sentence or paragraph but then only part way across the next and then just scan down the left hand side of the remainder of the text. The same pattern is likely to be used when reading e-mails on a computer screen. So if your main point is at the bottom of the message, your reader is highly unlikely to see it.
That's why it is so important to ensure your emails are written using the Inverted Pyramid structure. This means placing the main point of your message at the very top of your email BEFORE you give background details, explanations and details.
However, writing in the inverted pyramid structure is not natural to you. All your childhood, school and tertiary communications have been encouraged towards the Diamond Sequence in which you give background details, explanations and information before stating your main point – a request, solution or recommendation. But this simply doesn’t work in an email environment!
Take at look at the last 5 emails you’ve sent. Chances are, you’re making the main point at the bottom of the email. Changing this is easy . . . simply cut the main point from the bottom and paste at the top of your message. If your message is a long one you can copy and paste instead, leaving your main point at the bottom as most people will only remember the last thing they read!
Why not try this Inverted Pyramid idea when writing a new email message today!
See more about the F Shape at http://www.useit.com/alertbox/reading_pattern.html
All the best!