First impressions, though superficial, are an important part of forming relationships. In the case of a reader who is about to become introduced to a written work, the reader forms a “relationship” with the text at hand (and on a secondary level, with the author), and the nature and length of this relationship will depend on the reader’s initial judgment of the work. For example, “big” words present in this essential part of the first impression can repel a reader (depending on the context), as the writer can come off as pretentious. Even seemingly irrelevant aspects of a written work, such as the paper it is printed on (whether it looks cheap or expensive, for example), can affect a reader’s initial judgment of it.
Part of the first impression on a written material is formed upon reading the introduction of a text. The content of this introduction matters in the initial judgment in keeping the reader’s interest. A potential reader can be seen as an entity who is about to visit the particular universe of a text, and in the introduction, a short “easing” into the subject matter, as a matter of introducing the reader into this universe, will go a long way. Hence the reader must be introduced gently with a general introduction, (and eased out gently as well), to facilitate the absorption of the written material. A too-abrupt (forceful) delivery of the message can get the reader lost, and thus repel him.
A quick perusal of the body of the text also forms a part of this first impression. The layout of a text (excluding the content) is important, particularly in today’s “e-society”, where increasingly short attention spans are the norm. Whitespace helps in this regard; it will give the reader a visual breather, and thus he will be more likely to read (or continue to read), whereas crowded text will likely repel. Graphics will also add interest and breather space for the eyes.
Humans are always quick to judge, even if only on a subliminal level, and this judgment counts.