Too staccato

In response to my recent email formatting foray, a reader commented that he found my use of short paragraphs “too staccato.”

Why do I do this?

First off, I agree that my style is pretty staccato.

Personally I like reading emails that are paced with a rat-a-tat-tat rhythm. Electronic devices are inherently distracting, and I find this style holds my attention, so I naturally started writing this way.

Here's the best argument for punchy paragraphs though:

Something like 80% of emails are read on smartphones.

When a paragraph gets over 7 lines on a smartphone screen, it starts to look like a lot of work to plow through.

7 lines is maybe around 50 words, which isn't a lot of space.

As a reader when I get an email with a 7 line paragraph on the screen and a 10-line paragraph, I start hating life.

There's no break for my eye—it feels like a Sahara Desert of gray text.

I start skimming…

And once that happens, it's about 2 seconds before my thumb hits the Archive button.

On the other extreme, there are some email writers who seem to only write 5 words per line, which gets monotonous and hard to read as well.

You know…

Exactly the type of emails…

That I'm talking about…

It's almost like…

Talking to a person…

Who speaks in slow motion…

While staring dreamily into the distance…

Yuck!

I aim for a mix of 1-3 line “paragraphs” to be on the screen at once.

That's enough variety to keep it interesting, yet not feel like work to read.