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The reading curve

What parts of a letter or email capture the reader's attention first? A good communication considers the reading curve.

Scientists have always wanted to find out the most important parts of a communication. They observed people while they were opening letters and filmed their eye movements. Later they focused on human-computer interaction.

Eye-tracking visualizations reveal that we often read Web pages in an F-shaped pattern. If you squint and focus on the red (most-viewed) areas, all three heat maps show the expected

F pattern.

People read in two ways:

1. General understanding: In a few seconds, we move our eyes at amazing speeds across words in a pattern in order to get the gist (main meaning).

2. Detailed comprehension Only if the text catches our attention do we scan it for detailed comprehension.

Guide the reader with the reading curve and maximize the effect!

In particular, state the most important information in the first two paragraphs of your email or letter. Use subheadings, paragraphs and listings.

​Reading curve of an email

Reading curve of a letter

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