Are You Spaced Out?
Ok, this first one is actually a typing tip. ONLY USE ONE SPACE between sentences. Anyone who took a traditional typing class back in the day had the concept of pushing the space bar twice after every sentence drilled into their noggins. But in the publishing world — where typography is quite a bit more sophisticated than what that Selectric of yours used to produce — only one space rules.
Pick up a book. Look at a magazine. Surf ye olde web. Nary a double-space between sentences can be found. Help your blog, newsletters, presentations and all else look more professional by breaking yourself of this little habit. (Assuming Millennials have been mercifully spared this habit.)
Being “Centered” Doesn’t Mean Your Words
Reading from left to right in our western-euro-style culture is normal. By stacking all your copy in centered wads, you make it more difficult for people to read and absorb your content.
Centering text can be helpful for emphasis, like headlines or calls to action (“register now!”). But web pages, printed flyers and anything with more than a few lines of copy will often work best using the time-honored left justify approach. If you are looking for something more exciting or energetic, best to work with a professional designer who knows how to handle font selection, kerning (the space between letters), leading (the space between lines of text) and so on. A good designer can provide pizzazz without sacrificing readability.
Break It Up!
The more fractured our communications routes become, the less time we actually spend reading anything. With the rise of social media, texting and online chat, our poor little attention spans continue to shrink. A recent study showed the next generation eschewing email all together, preferring texting, Twitter and Facebook for most communications.
So do your reader, colleague and client a favor and break up your writing into easily scanned chunks. A few sentences will do. Logical breaks are best, but if you’ve got a paragraph in an email starting to run more than 6 or 7 lines, you’re going to lose them. Shorten your sentences. Self edit as much as possible and concentrate on the most important parts.