Since many people will decide to read your text after a quick scan through, you need to make your information inviting as possible.
Part of that effort involves increasing readability. Here are a few print and online techniques:
Use Descriptive Subheads
Subheadings help your audience to grasp your topic or message quickly. Also, readers can easily navigate the text when you provide these “sign posts” in your copy.
Leave White Space
Thick blocks of text make the eye weary. Keep paragraphs short (no longer than seven lines for email) and leave spaces between them.
Avoid Jargon and Buzzwords
Corporate buzzwords, “tech-talk” and other forms of jargon weigh down the pace of your words and can frustrate readers who are not familiar with the topic area. Never use jargon unless you’re certain that at least 95 percent of your audience will understand.
Use Readable Type
Always use fonts that are easy to read. Courier and Times (and their variations) are two fonts traditionally used for easy reading. Many writers also employ Verdana for more effective online reading.
Don’t write entire sentences or paragraphs in all caps. Not only is it difficult to read, but it also gives the impression of shouting.
Font sizes of 10 or 12 points are usually the best choices. Bear in mind that the fonts themselves differ in size, e.g., 12-point Arial is much bigger than 12-point Times New Roman.
Watch Your Sentence Length
Sentences that stretch past 40 words often make readers backtrack or pause in order to recollect that was written before. Keep the majority of your sentences to 20 words or less. Also, vary sentence lengths to keep the reading rhythm varied and interesting.
Use Colors Carefully
While adding font or background color can add spice to your text, be careful that you don’t sacrifice function in favor of style. Dark type on a light background works best. White type on black or dark backgrounds is striking but can exhaust the eyes if used extensively.
If your type will go over graphics or a patterned background, make sure the words don’t get lost in the visuals.
While you’re concentrating on these techniques, don’t forget the basics: good spelling and grammar. Make sure subjects and verbs agree, don’t leave your participles dangling, and watch out for wayward commas and modifiers.
Now, go write something cool.
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