When you’re writing copy for the web or for brochures, flyers or anything else you want people to read the most important thing is to get their attention – or you might as well not bother!

It’s important to know where people are looking and how their eyes connect with the screen or the document. People scan on screen in a different pattern to the one they use on paper – and the way they handle documents will impact on what they look at first – and next.

Typically people engage with a web page about 2/5ths of the way down the screen – so that’s a good place to put your headline, but you still need it to stand out so people’s attention is focused. On paper, the scanning pattern starts a bit higher up in the upper left quadrant, but not right at the top of the page.

On the screen people mostly scan in an ‘F’ shape, with the top bar of the ‘F’ in that critical headline position. The lower bar is the next place their eyes go and then they scan down the left hand edge of the copy area, picking up 10-12 characters and any words that they have in mind.

On paper the type of document will make an difference to how they read. On a single page people tend to start in the upper left quadrant and then the eyes follow a ‘Z’ pattern across the page. This means that information on the right hand side is often overlooked unless there is a way to attract the attention to it that makes it stand out.

It’s important to be aware that people may not be looking in certain areas, means you can find means to focus their attention by using bullet point lists, subheadings or other devices. Knowing that the bottom left hand corner will be noticed is important as you can use that to put information you really want people to read.

There’s far more to understand when you come to folded flyers, two sided documents and all the information that relates to colours, images and contact information, but at least this will get you started!
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