Intentional Blogging [Lesson 8: Formatting]

Formatting Your Posts for Scanners

People aren’t reading your articles. Not really.

With thousands of marketing messages inundating people every day, who can blame someone for missing a few words here and there? There’s simply not enough time to read it all.

Scanning is a necessity.

When you’re writing for for a website or blog, you need to remember that in this age of perpetual distraction, people don’t absorb content like they used to. Not today.

Not on this Internet.

What Do You Do to Stand Out?

Write content crafted for the scanners and skimmers, of course.

Here are a few ideas for writing scannable content:

  • Keep your posts short. 400-600 words is ideal. (If you go longer, break up the content into readable chunks.)
  • Use subheads. This breaks up your content into scannable chunks.
 (If you can edit the HTML of your blog, this is usually the H2 or H3 subheading tag.)
  • Use numbered lists. These are fun to write and read.
  • Use bullet points. Bullets can actually make you a better blogger. I plan out most of my posts using bullets.
  • Have fun with formatting. Make good use of the bold and italic formatting options.
  • Keep your paragraphs short. I mean, really short. Two to three lines, at most. Absolutely no more than four. This is a blog, not a book.
  • Write like you talk. Blogging is different from your doctoral thesis or newspaper article. Blogging is about community. There needs to be a conversational flow to your content.
  • Give people a chance to respond. When people have an opportunity to share, they’re more engaged in what they’re reading. Allow readers to join the conversation through commenting or via social media.
  • Link to quality content. People love clicking anchor text (that’s the little blue — or green or red, depending on the site — text that indicates a link on your page). Give them something worth clicking. Try linking to some of your best content (and maybe some of your friends’, too). This catches scanners in the act and holds their attention.

What? That’s It?

Yep.

Could I give you more tips for writing scannable content? Of course.

Would you read it? Probably not.

So get started. There’s a lot here. More than enough to begin.

And if you are looking for more reading material, try this post: How to Write Scannable Content