In an eye-tracking study done by the Nielsen Norman Group, they found that reading behaviour online was fairly consistent and can be used to better lay out your email newsletter.

On the whole, users first read in a horizontal movement, usually across the upper part of the content area (the F’s top bar). Then they move down the page a bit, and read across in a second, shorter, horizontal movement (the F’s lower bar). Lastly, users scan the content’s left side in a vertical movement (the F’s stem).

Implications of the F Pattern

  1. Users often won’t read your text thoroughly in a word-by-word manner, but rather scan the content quickly.
  2. The first two paragraphs must state the most important information. Users will read more of the first paragraph than the second.
  3. Start lines with words that will stand out when readers scan the F’s stem. They’ll read the first two words more than the third.
  4. Images, boxes and interesting headlines can break the pattern as it makes the email more interesting.

The more interesting the message looks, the longer readers will dedicate to finding the content they think is important.

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