Care About Layout
When you think about the way people read online articles these days, you know that people naturally skim text and then decide whether to read the entire article or not. They just don’t have the time or patience to sit through a huge article, otherwise, they ‘d just buy a book and sit down to have a good read. Online, people are looking for instant information and that means that the layout becomes highly important. It should be visually appealing and easy enough to read and highlight your main points so that when readers skim the article, they know which sections to read, or whether to they want to read the entire article or not. To conform to those standards, you need to include white space to isolate and highlight different headings and also you need to use special formatting to keep the eyes dancing through the page as it skims along the main points.
Finally, the layout is very important. Your articles have to be visually appealing for them to be intellectually or socially appealing. You can write the best copy ever, but if it is displayed in one large chunk of text with no formatting or even paragraph spacing, there will be very few people willing to even attempt to read it. The reason for that is that the text on your computer can be a strain to read, unlike the text on a page in a book. And, even in books, you will see attempts to make the text visually appealing with some sort of guidelines. Well, you have to incorporate guidelines to make your web copy attractive too, except in this case, what you don’t write is more important (in some cases) than what you do write.
We’re not talking about adding all kinds of colors or unusual fonts to make your page pretty. In fact, one color and one font is the best way to keep your readers from feeling too strained as they read your text online. What we are suggesting is that you make the article layout easy on the eyes by adding white space and different formatting to draw in the reader, and not overwhelm them.
For that, you want the following:
Add bullets and lists — Bullets and lists help to break up text and provide a quick encapsulation of relevant points. Always include subheadings in them so that the skimmer can pick the bullets of interest to them.
Break up paragraphs — In real word writing, you don’t change paragraphs until the topic changes. This is not appropriate for online writing where the eye tends to tire from reading the screen much more easily. Instead, break up paragraphs into short chunks. Some online marketers will even go as far as to insert a new paragraph every three to fine lines of text.
Capitalize keywords — If you really want to draw attention to specific words in the title, just capitalize all of the words. Just be careful not to overuse this formatting as it can look like you are shouting to the reader.
As you can see, you can even combine these elements to give them more emphasis, as in the list above. We not only created a bulleted list, but we added subheadings and bolded the subheadings to give them special emphasis. What comes out is a list that is easily skimmed and then evaluated for the most important topics to the reader.
Add subheadings — Even if you break up the paragraphs, that doesn’t make it easy enough for people skimming it to know what each one is about. So, add subheadings that quickly give the skimmer a synopsis of what’s in those paragraphs, that way they can choose to read it or not.
Bold title — Bold the title so that it’s easily picked up within a listing of other articles. It draws the immediate attention of someone who is looking at titles only to decide whether to read or not.