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How To Format Your E-Mail So That People Read It

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by Wanda Loskot

It is easy to assume that, just because people agreed to be on your mailing list, they will read your messages. You are not sending spam and they requested your material, after all.

Aaaah - if only this could be true...

Not in your dreams!

There are many factors determining when the message is read and when it is not. The content, of course, and the quality of your writing style has a *lot* to do with it. But no matter how good the quality of your message is, the look is equally important. Your message must be *easy* and *inviting* to read, otherwise you might lose the competition for the time and attention of your recipient.

And, judging from the masses of email that I receive in my daily correspondence, the look of the majority can be improved. Please keep in mind that it is difficult to read from the computer screen. Make sure that your message is as inviting as possible.

Use a lot of white space

  • Write shorter paragraphs than you would in your offline messages - and *always* double space between paragraphs. A blank line between paragraphs is a must. Use two or three blank lines to separate between topics.
  • Make some sentences very short and let them stand alone between blank lines. It helps to emphasize the point you are making and it allows the eye to rest a bit...

Like this.

Be expressive

There are many replacements for gestures and intonation.

  • Use smileys :-) for a smile or more sophisticated [G} for a grin. And even ;-) for a playful wink.
  • Use typed "vocalizations" - they are internet equivalent of facial expression and body language and they will add life to your email (as long as you do not overdo it). Here are some of my favorites:
  • - ouch!
  • - hmmm
  • - wow!
  • - huh?
  • - aaaaah...
  • - yeah!

Stay away from CAPS (capitalized letters)

The human eye is trained to read by recognizing the shapes of the letters. Take for example the word: "day" -- you can just give it a glance to recognize three distinctive heights of the letters and read the word easily - and instantly. If you want to emphasize a word in email, use asterisks - like in *this* example. Remember that your email is the equivalent of your presence. It speaks volumes. It creates impressions about you just like your personal grooming does. Make sure your email is your ally!