How to Write a Readable Blog Post
How to Write a Readable Blog Post

Did you know that a whopping 55% of blog readers only spend about 15 seconds going through an article? And only 29% of people actually take the time to carefully read through a post?

People don’t sit down to read content like they used to – long gone are the days of sitting in your comfy armchair after dinner, smoking a pipe and reading the newspaper in its entirety.

Readers want fast, fresh and interesting content. They will take those 15 seconds to skim an article to see if it contains certain elements that make them want to continue reading.

If over half of them are doing a quick look-over, how can you ensure that the take the time to read your content? How can you hook that 29% into paying attention to what you have written?

By crafting readable content and this involves not only what you write and how you write it, but how you present it as well.

Content has to be easy to read, straightforward and informative.

Readers will quickly turn away from word vomit and disorganized streams of thought. They will avoid confusing articles with no organization.

With the proper structure and visual elements, you can create a blog post readers will take the time to read and engage with.

 


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Paragraphs

I want you to take everything you remember about proper paragraph form and toss it out the window. In the world of blog writing, we no longer follow the 2-3 sentences per paragraph format.

Why? Because readers skim and the easier we can make it for them to skim, the quicker they will decide that the information we are presenting is worth their time.

Keep in mind that the majority of readers are browsing blogs on their smartphones and tablets, so the text is even more condensed than on a laptop. Here’s an example:

The image on the left is my post How to Pimp Your Headers as seen on my phone. On the right is how it appears on my laptop.

The paragraph size on my phone is about the limit of how chunky I want my paragraphs to appear. I make sure of this by creating small paragraphs in my post.

It may seem that the first two paragraphs in the laptop view could be combined, but then it would create a hecka long paragraph in the phone view.

You should keep your paragraphs at 1 or 2 sentences, depending on the length of the sentences. It may seem choppy at first, but it’ll make the post much easier to read.

Most times, when I write a blog post, I preview it to see how large my paragraphs appear. From there, I’ll separate them if there are different thoughts that could necessitate a separate paragraph.

Punctuation

I won’t spend a lot of time discussing punctuation, but using it properly is important when producing well-written and readable blog posts.

Just like how you want to avoid big chunky paragraphs, you want to make sure your sentences are short, concise and communicate a complete thought because, if you let a sentence go on for too long, your reader is going to give up reading or skimming since they aren’t sure when that particular thought is going to end since there seems to be no definitive ending and they are not going to stick around to read the entire thing to see what the point of it is.

How painful was that?

Think of punctuation like little brain-breaths. Ending a sentence with a period and beginning a new one gives the brain a chance to pause, breath and absorb. Let’s try that paragraph again:

Just like how you want to avoid big chunk paragraphs, you want to make sure your sentences are short, concise and communicate a complete thought. If you let a sentence go on for too long, your read is going to give up reading or skimming.

This is because they aren’t sure when that particular thought it going to end – there’s seems to be no definitive ending. They are not going to stick around to read the entire thing to see what the point of it is.

Better, right?

Just be conscious of using punctuation to break up your thoughts and allow the brain time to process. This can include periods, commas – and even hyphens – to concisely communicate your message.

Font Size and Line Height

You can product the most beautifully written blog post in the history of blogging but, if your readers can’t see it, no one will read it.

When I first started switching my font size to anything larger than 12pt, I thought it was huge and obnoxious. However, the more I read other blogs and looked at my own posts, I realized that larger fonts are more inviting and readable.

Currently, the <p>, or paragraph tag, of this site is set to a font size of 16pt as well as a top and bottom margin of 33px.

Get ready for a tiny HTML/CSS lesson:

Each paragraph of text is surrounded the HTML tags <p> and </p>. This is done automatically whenever you write a post in WordPress’ post editor.

The size of the text and the space above and below it is done in CSS. You can change this, without touching your site’s style code, by using Appearance -> Customize in the left hand menu of WordPress. Choose the Additional CSS tab and enter the following code:

p {font-size: 16pt!important; margin: 33px 0!important; line-height: 1.75!important;}

The !important tag is just telling the browser to pay attention to this code instead of what is in the style.css file.

The font size dictates how big the font is going to be. The margin is telling the browser to add 33pt of space above and 33pt of space below each paragraph. The line height selector is specifying a certain amount of space between each line.

Check out my post What the Heck is CSS? to learn more about CSS styling.

You can play with these number under WP’s Customizer to see what look suits the style of your page.

Section Headings

In the 15 seconds they take to skim your post, those 55% of readers are going to pay particular attention to how the information is organized.

The easiest way to organize your content is by using headings to break up the text. In this article, I am using headings to group the different aspects of your post you should pay attention to in order to make it readable.

Themes will come with their own stylized headings but most of them are bland and insignificant to the eye.

In my post How to Pimp Your Headers, I show you how you can use CSS to make your headings more visually appealing and help them stand out against the rest of your text.

Using headings gives the reader a quick idea of what information you providing in your article. If you were to skim this post, you would get a snap-shot idea of the solution I am present to the question: How do I make my blog post more readable?

So think about the problem you are addressing and the solutions you are offering. These should be your headings.

For each solution that has different steps or aspects to it, you should use a subheading. If your key solutions are tagged as Header 2 (<h2></h2>), for example, your sub-headers should use a Header 3 (<h3></h3>). These can be applied right in WP’s post editor under the drop-down box that says “paragraph”.

Bullet Points

Apart from using headings to break up your content, you can use visual aids such as bullet points to make your post more readable.

Bullet points are used if you want to simply list something. These could be ideas or steps to take to accomplish a goal that doesn’t really need any additional information.

If I had simply posted this article with a list like this, I’m not providing a whole lot of information:

  • Paragraphs
  • Punctuation
  • Font Size and Line Height
  • Section Headings
  • Bullet Points

However, if I wanted to give you an idea of what to use bullet points for, I could do this:

  • Highlight key points of your article.
  • Present a list of facts.
  • Outline a series of steps.
  • Summarize a long section of content.

In order to keep your bullet points effective, try to limit each point to a short sentence or two.

Post Images

Statistics show that posts with images get 94% more views than those without. Images not only help to further break up content, but they provide visual stimulation and, in some cases, additional information.

A lot of the images I use in my posts are screenshots to demonstrate an example of what I’m talking about. I tend not to add superfluous images because I don’t want my content to feel too stuffed.

Images make your content look more visually appealing and eye-catching but they also provide additional benefits such as boosting your SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and social media shares.

In order to optimize your images for SEO, you need to fill out the “alt text” and “description” field when uploading an image to your post.

Try to use keywords in these fields in order to drive more traffic from search engines.

Just make sure you don’t use irrelevant images not related to your topic or too many images.

I like to do a quick preview of my completed article and try to judge good places for images when it seems like I’ve been reading text for too long.

Word Length

You would think because readers like to skim articles, as opposed to reading them, that short articles would be more attractive for visitors.

Actually, the opposite is true. Studies have shown that the best length for blog posts is around 1600 words – which takes about 7 minutes to read.

Why, though? That makes no sense!

Longer posts make you look like more of an expert in the topic you are discussing. If I had of just left you with that first bullet list and nothing else, you would probably assume I didn’t know what I was talking about. But the length of this article (for which I do apologize) indicates that I have some knowledge about this particular topic.

Most importantly, if you can hook the reader into reading the post, they will spend longer on your site.

This increase in time not only looks great on your site stats, but it also helps to build trust between you and that reader. If you are marketing courses or products, this trust is crucial.

It’s important to point out that you want to make sure your long-form content is relevant and focused. Don’t just spew words onto the page for the sake of a word count – this could have an adverse effect on its readability. Instead of that straightforward and easy-to-read article, you end up with word vomit.

To write long posts, make sure your information is thorough. Give examples if you have to, or inject your own personal experiences with the solution you are providing. You can even research your topic and provide the readers with some history or background information.

Hook Your Readers!

I know you have many amazing ideas you want to share with your blog audience! I hope this guide helps you to craft blog posts that help readers to experience those amazing ideas – instead of just peeking and scurrying on by.

Do you have any tips you want to add to this list? Leave them in the comments below!

Coding, design, and writing are my happy places. I can lose all track of time when I’m working on my blogs.

I hope here at MNC you will find the answers to your questions and some inspiration to make your blog or site really totally cool!

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