Tips for the scanning phase

Tips for the scanning phase

We scan before we read

The biggest lesson to be learnt from years of eye-tracking research is that there are two phases when people start viewing their mail or email. There is a scanning phase and a reading phase. If people give up before completing the scanning phase, then there is no chance of them reading the content. It is also known that everyone does this in roughly the same way. And that this is unconscious behaviour that can’t be changed.
The scanning phase only lasts a few seconds. Below are some tips on how to get your message across in that short space of time.

 1. Do I want to read this?

When you look at your text, do you feel like getting started or are you presenting a ‘Wall of Text’? Why not alternate line length and paragraph size? This makes a text more pleasant to read.


2. Align text to the left

Text that is justified or centre-aligned is much more difficult to read.



Words in CAPITAL LETTERS take more effort to read.


4. Be careful using inverted text

It often looks good, but is difficult to read. One sentence is fine, but definitely not a whole letter.


5. Be careful using coloured text

Use it in moderation. And note: older people (our main target group) have difficulty with contrast and therefore legibility.


6. ‘Highlight’


  • Underlining
  • bold
    • indentation
  • (bullet points)

to guide your reader in the viewing phase.


7. Use brief, handwritten texts

Use a handwritten text, an underline, an arrow. Anything that gives your letter a more personal look. Yes, you can also do this in an e-mail.


8. Use a legible signature

Better to use a legible but unauthentic signature than a real, illegible scrawl.

Handtekening Team Mindwize


9. Use a serif typeface (with horizontal feet)

Just have a look in books and newspapers. They all use serif typeface, because this is much easier to read. For example Arial is a sans-serif typeface (without feet), while Times is a ‘serif’ typeface.

Tips voor de kijkfase schreef serif


10. Make sure your font is big enough

Fundraising letters are mostly read by seniors. Make sure your text is legible (minimum font size 12). Rather have two sides in size 12 than cramming size 9 on one side.


Last but not least: do your highlights tell your story?

If you just look at your highlights, do they tell your story: problem, need, solution and impact?

Tips for more donations

Based on our 30 years of experience, we have written a practical guide for fundraisers: ’99 Tips for more Donations’. We explain clearly which techniques positively influence the response.

Download our 99 tips and read more about:

99 tips for more donations

  • Tips for a successful newsletter
  • Tips for creating a good story
  • Tips for testing your fundraising program
  • Tips for an envelope

And much more…

99 tips for more donations

This book is a practical guide for all fundraisers. Download the book and apply the tips today!

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