Blogs, wikis and social networks are being credited for a renewed interest in writing among college students. Having an audience and a medium for self-expression are encouraging members of our younger generations to find their voice and share it with the world.
At the same time, the popularity of messaging and social platforms like Twitter, which limit the number of characters you can use to send a tweet, are teaching us to be more concise and to make our point quickly.
As more people create content, our attention span keeps getting smaller. There is just too much to read, listen to or view these days, that is why when it comes to blog writing it pays to follow a few simple rules to make our content easier to read.
Here are a few of them:
Try to use 50% of the words you would normally use. Once you finish writing, go back and try to further reduce your word count. Repeat the process until your paragraphs are short and tight, and your message is clear.
Try to make your paragraphs short and concise. Usually, two or three lines work best.
Headings and Subheadings
Use headlines to break the discussion into several paragraphs. Breaking the discussion into small, manageable chunks, each dealing with a sub-topic of your discussion, makes it easier for readers to scan your content.
Use other elements that facilitate scannability, like bolding keywords and phrases, and using bullet points to organize your content and break up the text.
Link to complementary information instead of trying to include too much information in the body of your article. Linking to sources of information is not only good ettiquete but it helps to put your writing in the right context, both for your readers and search engines.
Use an easy-to-read font size. Normally, 10pt or 12pt are good choices. Use fonts like Arial, Verdana or Georgia; they are optimized for computer screens and easy to read.
Use plenty of contrast: black text on white background works best, followed by white text on black background.
If your article is long, consider listing the three or four major takaways at the beginning (news items in cnn.com show a good example of this technique), or include a ‘Summary’ paragraph at the end.
Learn how to craft informative and/or catchy headlines. In aggregator sites like Alltop, on Twitter posts, or in search engine results pages, your headline is usually the only thing your readers will see. If your headline fails to garner attention, your article will never be read.
Brian Jackson is the former owner of Shoestring Branding, a marketing and branding blog for entrepreneurs, with an emphasis on internet-based tools and strategies. It was recently acquired by BrandBlast.com