Email Accessibility: 5 Tips for Writing Email Copy for Everyone

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There’s a misconception that implementing email accessibility is hard. Many marketers think that you need coding skills to make your emails more inclusive. 

But it’s not only the code behind emails that affects accessibility, although that is important. A lot of the time, revisiting email copy can greatly improve the experience for subscribers. Ensuring your copy is readable and easy to understand goes a long way in making your campaigns more accessible. With these five easy tricks, you can make it happen. Here’s how. 

Is your email accessible?

Accessibility checks in Litmus Checklist make it easy to test your email against key accessibility best practices, identify areas for improvement, and make your emails more accessible to all your subscribers.

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1. Keep your copy concise.

It’s tempting to cram as much copy and content in an email as possible. But there are many reasons why shorter, more concise copy is desirable. 

According to Litmus research, the average attention span in email is just 13.4 seconds. In a talk from Litmus Live 2018, speaker Tom Tate looked at what that means for email copywriters. If the average adult reader can read between 250 and 300 words per minute, then the ideal length of copy in an email is just 50 words

But it’s not just attention spans, either. Many people suffer from cognitive disabilities that make reading difficult. Everything from traumatic brain injuries and dementia to dyslexia can affect a person’s ability to read. Longer texts often make the matter worse.

2. Use shorter sentences.

Long, complex sentences can make your email copy more difficult to read. Short sentences are easier to understand, allowing your audience to focus on the content. Don’t make them spend their energy on unpacking complicated sentence structures. Whenever possible, split longer sentences into two. 

3. Limit your use of jargon and difficult words.

What’s true for sentences is true for individual words, too: Shorter is better. Longer words are harder to absorb and require more concentration from your readers. If you can, replace complex words with simpler, shorter synonyms.

Readability testing made easy: The Flesch Reading Ease test

Readability tests are an easy tool to find out how easy it will be for someone to read your text. The Flesch Reading Ease test is the most popular one. It’s based on the average length of sentences and words in your document and ranks copy on a scale from 0 to 100. The higher the number, the easier it is to read your email copy. A score of 60-70 is considered plain English that’s easily understood by 13- to 15-year-old students. That’s the score you should aim for with most marketing copy.

Readable.io’s free tool lets you test your readability score for free and shows where you can improve. Plus, tools like Grammarly or Yoast offer readability scoring too.

This post has a Flesch Reading Ease score of 60.

4. Create a strong content hierarchy.

It’s hard for people to read and understand long, uniform blocks of text. That’s especially true for people who live with cognitive and situational disabilities. Creating hierarchy means creating visual differences that reinforce importance. That helps users quickly consume content in email. 

Creating visual hierarchy is a design task, but it starts with your content and your copywriting. Use the power of headlines and paragraphs to create a content hierarchy for your campaign. That makes it easier for your subscribers to scan and read your message. 

5. Localize your content for global audiences.

If you’re sending to global audiences, translate your copy into local languages. Don’t just rely on operating system or browser translations. If you don’t have translation resources in-house, using a respected translation service can help. Plus, go beyond translation by localizing copy with language and content that fits your audience.

Interested in more email accessibility resources?

Our Ultimate Guide to Email Accessibility gives you the tools, tips, and resources you need to create more inclusive emails—one step at a time.

Download the free guide →