A page with a huge block of text is an eyesore to anyone trying to read it. So how can you break up your page? Thanks to behavioral science, we now have an answer: Formatting your content to maximize its readability.

Writing to be Read

As I was helping a colleague of mine with his Squidoo Lens, I started thinking about how most small business marketing materials follow similar formats. It’s not just the content of your website, newsletter, blog or print materials that matters: the formatting of this content determines how much your content is read and absorbed. Current research (using eyetracking software) shows us exactly how users read and scan through material to determine which items are worth their time. How can you increase the readability of your web pages, newsletters, and marketing materials? For the DIYer, follow these tips:

  • Use bullet points!
    Bullet points are a great way to list your ideas in a concise format.
  • Edit your material for relevance and length.
    Don’t create an emotional attachment to your business writing — snip at will to keep your information on task!
  • Use typography and font hierarchy.
    In your WordPress theme settings or stylesheets, designate different font treatments for headings, subsections, body text, and links.
  • Write, rewrite, and really focus on your headings and subheadings.
    Your section titles can make or break the information that comes after them. Being precise and clear will help you to get more readers for the rest of your information!
  • Write in an easy-to-understand, conversational tone.
    Using too much technical jargon or writing text that doesn’t flow will lose your readers.
  • Increase your line height.
    Increasing the white space between lines on various elements (paragraph, list, heading, etc.) makes the text easer to read.
  • Break up your text with paragraphs and punctuation.
    Long paragraphs with nothing but periods can be a real bore.
  • Start with an outline.
    Instead of writing articles like you would tell a story, make an outline and fill in the details. This will keep you on task!

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