Ever open an email or see a PowerPoint with the wall of words? It shuts me down.
I’ve gotten to the point where if I see a presenter with a PowerPoint slide that’s crammed with text, I have to avert my eyes. It’s too painful and distracting. And I can’t hear a thing they’re saying.
Same with email. I had a friend who always wrote her emails all in one, giant paragraph. Even if it wasn’t very long (and sometimes it was), as soon as I saw the wall of copy, I closed it to read “later.” It completely overwhelmed me in the middle of a busy day.
White space is a critical design element, but you don’t have to be a graphic artist to use it.
Here are five ways to use white space in day-to-day business writing:
Throw out what you learned in high school English. A paragraph doesn’t have to have a topic sentence, several supporting sentences and a conclusion.
Instead, group common, logical ideas together. Hit return, and move onto the next thing.
It’s okay to have only one sentence in a paragraph.
Short is best. Multiple clauses rarely belong in business writing. Instead, hit the period and start a new sentence. This will result in crisp, clear writing.
Even the space after the period (only one is needed) helps open up your copy. More important, it opens up space in the brain of your readers.
Use them to communicate, rather than as a simple label – so a reader gets the gist just from scanning the subheads. This will guide the reader through your topics. You can do this even in an email of only a few paragraphs.
Use Bullets and Numbers
You know this, but you don’t always do it. Reading things in a bulleted list is much easier to comprehend.
Choose use instead of utilize. Please!
For PowerPoint, consider doing some of your slides Apple-esque, with just a few words on a slide and nothing else. Ahhhh. I’m more relaxed just thinking about it.
For those of you concerned about being too abrupt, remember what your mother told you — please and thank you go a long way. Open with a short, polite greeting and close with another.
It is possible to be both thoughtful and efficient. In fact, being efficient is thoughtful to your reader.