This is the second in a series of tips on how to write for readers who will most likely be reading your document on a screen.
Tip 3: Use effective headings. Headings enable readers to skim documents (a reading mode which several studies found common among screen-readers). They help readers structure their mental processing of details. They provide a pause in the stream of text. Finally, they help readrs switch gears by signaling a new point
Tip 4: Use numbered lists and bullet points. These tools help the reader process information by providing context. They also enable skimming. List numbers and bullets (which are used when the order of the items isn’t important) are located on the left side of the screen, which usability studies show that the reader is looking for information. Although eye-tracking studies show that it’s easier for readers to find information listed by numerals rather than writing out the words for the numbers, numerical lists and bullet points aren’t common in briefwriting. Because these tools are uncommon, when they’re used, the’ll be sure to draw the reader’s attention.
Keep your eyes out for next month’s post, when I’ll discuss more ways to write effectively for the 21st century reader.