Email newsletter formatting tips for the speed reader

Format for speed reading

Newsletter FormattingI spend a large part of every week creating content—brainstorming topic ideas, outlining blog posts and creating email newsletter formatting. I spend another good part of my week consuming content that’s relevant to me and to our business. Notice I said consuming, not reading?

That’s because I’m a speed reader (skimmer) and not a reader.

I rarely read an article or email word-for-word. In fact, I often go back in books I’m reading to catch important plot points that I missed while skimming the same page earlier.

I used to think that being a speed reader made me a fraud as a content creator.

But, I’ve come to realize that skimming and scanning actually gives me an advantage over content creators who eat up every single word on a page.

I don’t like reading long pieces of content any more than the next gal. Which means I’ve gotten good at creating content that’s simple for skimmers and scanners yet still captivates folks who can sit still for longer than five minutes.

There are two key components to creating email newsletters that are compelling for speed readers:

1. Email newsletter formatting

If I were editing one of your email newsletters, I’d skim it before making myself read it word for word. The first thing I would do is look at the title, sub-headers, bullet points or lists and any bold or italicized terms.

Don’t got ’em? I’ll search through your walls of text to find ’em. And then, I’ll come give you a good Leroy Jethro Gibbs knock on the back of your head!

In addition to these obvious email newsletter formatting methods, I have one more trick up my sleeve for ensuring your text doesn’t scare skimmers away–SPACING.

Remember, our goal is to edit for readability, not for an English teacher!


We are going to insert paragraph breaks wherever the reader needs to take a break, not where proper English rules tell us to. That might mean after a single sentence or even a single word, who knows!

For example, the correct version of the top section of this article should be something like this:

I spend a large part of every week creating content—brainstorming topic ideas, outlining posts and then editing each post into a tidy article that’s (hopefully) easy for our audience to read. I spend another good part of my week consuming content that’s relevant to me and to our business. Notice I said consuming and not reading? That’s because I’m a skimmer not a reader.

But my audience is going to get bored just looking at this paragraph. So I broke it up into four bite-sized sections and added formatting.

2. The outline

It may seem backward to mention editing the format of your posts before I talk about creating the outline. But in order to fully understand the importance of an outline, you’ve got to first understand where it’s going—the formatting.

A solid outline ensures that you’ll be able to highlight key points and lists in your editing process later.

Without a solid outline, even the best of editors (I am not one) can find enough key points to effectively format your content. You’ll look back later and want to pull your hair out because you didn’t do the work on the front end.

Believe me.

I’ve been there.

It’s terrible.

See what I did there? With spacing?

While I’m over-dramatizing “skimming,” the point is that whether you’re dealing with skimmers or not, it’s in your best interest to take formatting seriously. You’ll make it easier for your readers to:

  • Commit to reading on a daily basis.
  • Hear the message you want them to.
  • Share key points with their networks.

Now, go make it happen on your own email newsletter! Try out GoDaddy’s Email Marketing tool and create a stunning one, today.

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Plume & Post
Plume & Post is an agency founded by three friends who believe that small businesses blaze trails that can change the world. Marketing strategists at heart, we've built blogs, created editorial calendars, designed infographics and written whitepapers to achieve big-picture results for small businesses (those measured in dollars). We enjoy every opportunity to collaborate with small businesses to create valuable content for their audiences.