Do you know not to bury your headline?

Last updated by Tanya Leahy [SSW] 17 days ago.See history

When communicating important information via email, it's crucial to ensure that the main purpose of the email is immediately clear. Burying the headline - placing the primary message deep within the text - can lead to confusion and miscommunication.

  • State the main purpose early - The main purpose of the email should be in the first sentences. This helps ensure that even if the recipient skims the email, they understand the primary message. Do you know users scan web content in an F-shaped pattern?.
  • Clarity over complexity - Readers should be able to read an email once and understand what it is about. Avoid complex sentences or burying the important information in lengthy paragraphs.

Here's how you can improve email clarity by not burying the headline:

Hi Bob,

Thanks for your help with the project.

The updates you made were mostly correct. I have reviewed the code and noticed a few things. Some sections of the code need refactoring. I think it's better if we avoid adding those changes until we meet tomorrow.

Thanks,
John

Figure: Bad example - The main point is buried and not immediately clear

Hi Bob,

I have reviewed the code and some sections need refactoring. Can we meet tomorrow to review before any changes are made?

Thanks for your help with the project.

Thanks,
John

Figure: Good example - The main point is clear and immediately addressed

Tips for effective email communication

  • Use a clear subject - Ensure the email subject line reflects the main content of the email
  • Highlight key information - Use formatting tools like bold or bullet points to highlight crucial points
  • Keep it brief - Long emails can lose the recipient's attention. Keep your emails concise and to the point. If the email contains detailed information, start with a brief summary of the main points

By following these guidelines, you can improve the clarity and effectiveness of your email communications, ensuring that important messages are understood quickly and accurately.

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