Writing Tips for Email Distribution of your Article or Message

It has long been understood that writing for the web is different than writing for a print publisher. There have been volumes written on this subject.

I am here to share with you some important lessons that I have discovered about Writing for Email.

There Are Two Types of Email Readers

Now the techies in the audience are scratching their heads and mumbling under their breath that I am a fool... No biggie... I have been called that before.

From the technical side of the equation this statement is wrong. I will fess up on that.

But, for the purposes of this article, it is the absolute truth. Let me explain.

There are type types of email readers:
* AOL Email Reader
* All Other Email Readers

This is an important distinction, because all email readers will automatically hyperlink an Internet URL, except for the AOL Email Reader. In order for the AOL Reader to hyperlink the URL, it must have the HREF tag from HTML in proper format.

For example, all other readers will provide a hyperlink for the following bit of text:

http://thePhantomWriters.com

On the other hand, email destined for an AOL member must be formatted like this:

<A HREF=http://thePhantomWriters.com>
http://thePhantomWriters.com</A>

White Space

When you are writing an article or an ordinary piece of email, white space is very important to help aid your reader in getting every word read.

In an ordinary letter on a written piece of paper, it is fine to place your text with no blank lines between paragraphs and with only a indention at the beginning of the paragraph. If you were to do this in an email message, all of the text would tend to run together making your message monotonous to read.

Blank space enables you to get your message read more thoroughly and completely. This is why within this article you will see a blank line between every paragraph and two blank lines between every sub-section of the article.

Shorter URL's

The typical ezine is deliberately formatted to 65 characters width. This is done to enable easy reading for all people viewing the ezine.

On the web, it is important to serve the lowest common denominator. While you and I may use higher resolution on our computers, most Internet users do not. Many are still utilizing the 640 x 480 video resolution. And many more are still using outdated email software.

The 65 character width enables everyone to be able to read the ezine on their screen without requiring them to scroll right to left to take in all of the text in the ezine.

When listing a URL for a website, it is thus important to make sure that the URL does not exceed 65 characters in length.

There are fr`ee services available to help you to do this. One such program can be found at: http://www.shorturl.com/

Above the Fold

'Above the Fold' is a term that comes from newspaper publishing. As you might be able to imagine, they are talking about what appears above the fold on the newspaper and in the display area of the paper in the newspaper machine.

'Above the Fold' is the element that most affects the impulse purchases of the newspaper.

In an email message, 'Above the Fold' is the amount of text seen before one has to scroll down. As with a newspaper, the 'Above the Fold' text in an email will determine how many people may or may not read all of your message based on their impulse decision to do so.

HTTP:// Requirements

Similar to what I was talking about in the previous section about the email readers, it is important to always use the full http:// address in your printed URL's.

If you were to list your URL without the http:// , then your URL will not hyperlink. If you are reading this message in a standard email reader in text format, you will see what I mean here:

thePhantomWriters.com

Then again, if you do use the http:// , the URL will automatically be hyperlinked in the email:

http://thePhantomWriters.com

The reason why this is actually important to you is that the non-techie reader might find it difficult to know how to copy the URL to their Internet browser. I know for most of us, this is hard to believe, but I have seen it first hand when people were asking me how they could copy the URL to their browser for viewing.

MAILTO: Requirements

If you include an email address in your email text, and you want people to be able to click that link to send you an email, you must list your email address with the mailto: prefix.

Otherwise, your email address will not hyperlink.

Here is the proper method to hyperlink an email address:

mailto:bplatt@thephantomwriters.com

Floating Punctuation

Here is another factor that might seem odd on first look.

When you list an email address or URL in your email copy, and you have followed the steps to hyperlink the email address or URL, you must make a point to break proper sentence formatting if a punctuation mark should follow your hyperlink.

Most people who end a sentence with a URL want to put that period at the end of the sentence. Don't! If you must, put a blank space between the actual URL and the period. The same concept must be applied to commas and semicolons.

When you are working with a straight domain name, it is not really an issue. But when you are using a page on your domain, the improperly placed punctuation could break the URL.

For example, the other night, I clicked a link to a website that was formatted like this:

http://thephantomwriters.com/link-builder.pl.

The email reader sees that final period in the URL as part of the URL. When this happens, it is like putting a period at the end of any URL. Test it on your own to see what happens. Ah yes, the dreaded "404 Error - Page Not Found."

This is why we want to put the extra space between the end of our URL's and our punctation marks, just like this:

http://thephantomwriters.com/link-builder.pl . 

In Conclusion

These tips are offered to help you get your email messages read more often. They are also offered to help ezine publishers provide their readers a better and more valuable ezine, and to help writers to offer publishers a better formatted article for simple copy-and-paste reprint.

For those of us who use the web in a commercial manner, all of these tips will help us to sell more of our wares and widgets. After all, that is why we got into business in the first place, isn't it?

Bill Platt owns http://thePhantomWriters.com . Do you need free content for your website or ezine? Our archives deliver more than 350 free-reprint articles available for your use. http://content.thePhantomWriters.com . Do you write your own articles? Let us distribute them for you to our network of 6000+ publishers & webmasters http://thePhantomWriters.com/distribution


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