The visual component of your writing style factors increasingly into whether people read what you write.
When we practiced writing in school, we assumed, reasonably, that our term papers or essay questions were being read if they were being graded. This relieved us from the pressure to attract and hold a reader’s attention. This allowed us learn to form opinions, organize ideas, and present convincing arguments. Nowadays, we cannot take our audience for granted.
In good faith, we focus on fleshing out our ideas in writing, and all too easily ignore the increasing odds against those ideas being read. Reading, for many, is more of a professional task these days than something they do for fun. In business communications, we can still reasonably assume that we’re being read. But ignoring the visual component of our writing still can undermine our best efforts. And our email programs and other tools are loaded with many design features that can aid us in doing this.
Ed Esber, president of Ashton-Tate once said that a computer makes a good manager better, and a bad manager worse. The same is true of great tools and writers.
Here’s a quote from Harvard Business Review blogger Dan Pallotta:
“Whether you know it or not, when you assemble a grant proposal, a business plan, an executive summary, you’re designing. And good design gives you an edge. How big an edge? It’s the difference between getting read or getting ignored. You don’t have to understand Photoshop or other design programs to be able to create clean business communications. You just have to develop an eye for the difference between visual order and visual noise.”
This is an important point, an eye-opener even, if I may pour on the visual metaphors. And if you’ve met me, you’ll appreciate the deeper irony.
Here’s the full article.
Please reply, and let me know if you, ahem, see any refinements or new restraint in your style.
P.S. Remember: “There Is No Style Without Substance”!