Online Teaching Tip #11 – Why Formatting Matters

We have all changed.

How?

We who were readers have become scanners. That means we must write our emails, not to readers, but to scanners.

Here are three tips for formatting your course communications so that your students get what they need to know.

1. Create a List. Lists are readable, they organize Threeinformation, and they are memorable. When you start an email or email subject line with Three Things You Need to Know This Week or Four Ways to Prepare for the Exam, your learners will automatically be asking “What are the 3 (or 4) things?” It creates curiosity, and curiosity gets things read.

2. Put Important Information and Headings in Bold. Use this wisely. If you overuse bold, underlining, or red text then your students will eventually ignore the treatment.

3. Use White Space. White space doesn’t get much press, but it’s key to good organization.  It breaks things up into distinct units of thought. Use it.

I wanted to add a fourth tip here but I realized that it wasn’t really a formatting tip, it’s really in a category of it’s own. In fact, it’s so effective that I decided devote Online Teaching Tip #12 entirely to the topic.

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