(Translation: content that will actually get READ.)
Admit it – you don’t actually READ 80% of the written communication you are faced with every day – you SCAN it.
So do your readers, and they’ll often skip right over content that is too dense for easy scanning on whatever device they’re using.
If they’re skipping your content because it’s too dense, they’re not engaging with you, and if they’re not engaging – they’re likely not buying.
Tips for creating scannable content
1. Use lots of subheads.
This doesn’t mean that you need multilevel subheads like a contract or one of those awful reports we used to have to write in school – one level is just fine, and in WordPress we like to use the H3 heading for this. Every two or three paragraphs, try to throw in a subhead to grab the reader’s attention and let them know what the next chunk of text covers.
2. Don’t put more than 3 sentences in a single paragraph.
No matter what your Composition 101 professor told you, if you use more than 3 sentences per paragraph, they are going to be TOO long. Most content areas on websites run about 500 pixels wide – that paragraph is always going to publish looking longer than it does in your Dashboard.
3. Set off really important sentences all by themselves.
You know, like this.
4. Use short words of Anglo-Saxon origin rather than the more polysyllabic words of Latin or Greek origin.
I had the hardest time with this one, as I’m quite fluent in the English language – and often there’s one word that communicates PRECISELY what I want to say – but the point is moot if the reader doesn’t get what it means. So, unfortunately, “See Spot run.” (Reference: Eliminate Wallet Closing Words from Social Triggers.com)
5. Make that font bigger.
No, EVEN BIGGER. The larger the font, the fewer words appear on a line of text, which makes it faster and easier for the reader to scan. Consider 16 point type to be a minimum for body text.
6. Use bullet points and numbered lists where it makes sense.
They create white space and require that you summarize your thoughts concisely.
Now it’s your turn
If there are certain blogs, news outlets, etc. that you like because of the content format being easy to read, or, conversely, that you hate because it’s just too darn hard to take it in, please post examples in the comments. I’d love to see them!