Remember when getting an F for your writing was the worst thing that could happen to you? Turns out, it’s not so bad anymore. Actually, it’s a good thing.
Today we are busy, busier than we have ever been and this has taken a toll on our reading habits. We tend to scan more, picking out lines and words here and there.
According to the Nielsen Eyetracking Study, we read in the shape of the letter F. We read most of the first paragraph, go down, read a bit of the middle paragraph, and then glance down again keeping to the right of the page. You can read more about it here: 8 Powerful Takeaways from Eye Tracking Studies
This should help you decide where to put your most important information. We are often told that your first sentence should be the most important and the first paragraph the most important paragraph. If you consider the f-shaped reading pattern it makes sense.
Look at these heat maps:
How can you change your writing to create the F?
- Use the Inverted Pyramid. This is an old journalistic tool. Start with the conclusion and then add the explanations. The most important information must go first. This will also help you with SEO. Read The One Essential Email Trick Every Business Writer Should Know
- Write in Plain Language. Shorten your sentences, simplify your word choice and reduce
sentence length. This will aide scanning. Read Why You Need To Write In Plain Language
- Make sure you have lots of white space. White space is a design principle; the absence of text draws your eye to the text. It does not overwhelm the reader. Read Why You Need White Space When You Write (And 5 Ways To Create It)
Good luck and I hope you get an F.
If you are interested in learning how to improve your business writing skills, join us for The Plain Language Programme.
by Mia Botha
If you enjoyed this post, you will love: