Do your articles look like crap?
We all like to think the quality of our writing is what matters to readers, but unfortunately that’s not how it works.
The way your article looks visually is just as important, if not more so, than the quality of your work.
You could write the greatest essay ever, but if you don’t format it properly…
It won’t have near the impact it could if you just took some time to package it up nicely for the reader.
As writers, we may not like the fact that formatting matters more than the content, but that’s how it goes.
And if you want people to actually read your stuff, you can’t ignore the visual elements of your writing.
Here are a few formatting tricks I use to make my articles more consumable.
- Incorporate white space
- Make sure you’re using sub-heads
- Sprinkle in some emphasis
Incorporate white Space
The biggest formatting mistake you can make is to publish giant walls of text.
where your entire article is a bunch of long, run-on paragraphs, without any spacing or formatting in sight.
Trying to read giant walls of text is brutal.
It’s boring. Hard to read. And painful to even look at.
I shouldn’t have to say this but, if your article is a giant wall of text, no one is going to read it.
It doesn’t matter how good the information is… if it looks like it’s going to be a chore to read, people won’t even try.
They’ll just hit the back button and find a different article by someone who respects their time enough to make an article readable.
So before you publish your next article, make it easier to read by incorporating some white space into your text.
Break your article up into small, consumable sections.
Then break each of those sections up into short, digestible paragraphs.
And by short I mean nothing longer than 2 or 3 lines.
Remember, most people are reading on their phones, so a paragraph that spans 4 lines looks gigantic on their screen.
When you get rid of the giant walls of text and incorporate some white space into your writing, more people will take the time to read what you wrote.
Make sure you’re using Sub-heads
Using sub-heads properly is another way to make your article easier to read.
Sub-heads do a couple things for your articles.
First, they break your article up into smaller, digestible chunks.
Which is obviously way more appealing to readers than a rambling, stream-of-consciousness without separate, distinct sections.
Second, sub-heads pull your reader deeper into your article.
Believe it or not, most people don’t read articles beginning to end.
They scan, looking for something that catches their eye before they commit to actually reading more.
That’s what sub-heads do, they grab the reader.
They pull them into your article.
And they create a sliding effect where one sub-head pulls the reader to the next sub-head until they slide through your entire article.
How do you use sub-heads to get people to read more of your article?
Turn each major point in your article into a sub-head.
Then spend a couple paragraphs clarifying that point before you move on to your next major point.
Which is your next sub-head.
And don’t go too long between sub-heads/points.
Most people won’t read 1000 words under each sub-head, so break it up into smaller chunks.
I typically use 250-300 words as a benchmark.
When you use sub-heads correctly, you’ll pull more people into your writing and keep them engaged through the entire piece.
Sprinkle in some emphasis
By emphasis I just mean little font tricks like using bold, italics and underline.
Why use emphasis?
Because the same way sub-heads draw the readers eye to the main sections of your article…
Emphasis draws their eye to the important parts of each main section.
It makes your words jump off the page and catch the readers attention.
And just like sub-heads, when you use emphasis correctly, it’ll subconsciously pull the reader down the page until they read your entire article.
Ok, so how do you use emphasis?
Well, what are the important points you make in each section of your article?
What lines or sentences do you want to make sure people read and understand?
Emphasize those lines.
Use bold case, italics and underline to highlight those points.
To draw the readers eyes to them.
And to make sure they know they’re important.
Just be careful with overusing emphasis.
If you use too much bold and italics, the effect is lost.
When everything is emphasized, nothing is emphasized.
I’m as guilty as anyone of this.
I tend to go overboard with the bold and italics and I have to go back and get rid of some of it before I hit publish.
So make sure to only use emphasis when it’s needed.
Do your readers a favor…
Format your articles so they’re easier to read.
Add white space, use sub-heads and add some emphasis into the next article you publish.
These 3 formatting tricks will make your writing easier to read and more likely to be consumed.