Blog Tipping: Writing for Reading

annabadge At its core, blogging is about writing things that people will read. Sounds easy, right? If only it were so simple. Figuring out what people like reading can take awhile (just as figuring out what you like to write can take awhile). In that light, here are a few tips to improve the readability of your posts:

  1. Don’t just show, or tell – do both. Pictures are good. Stories are good. Both together are better. Tell the reader WHY something is interesting, and what about it caught your eye.
  2. Write titles that catch reader attention. Matticus notoriously uses the supermarket rags as post title inspiration (as well as Cosmo!) – why? Because those titles are there to catch your eye, and used in a blog post, they’ll appeal to the reader as well
  3. Make your point quickly, and don’t waste words. The first two or three sentences of a post will either draw a reader in, or send them clicking to the next thing in their list. Make your point early and obvious, and then back it up with details. If you thought filler was obvious in high school term papers, it’s even more obvious in blogs!
  4. Explain jargon and acronyms. You can assume that most people reading a Warcraft blog will know what WoW is, but a new player might not know what TPS is, or HPM. (Threat per second, Heals per mana). It only takes a second to explain an acronym, and you’ll widen your audience significantly by doing so – especially if you’re talking about a very specific topic.
  5. Edit, edit, and edit some more. A great idea doesn’t automatically mean a great post. Go back and edit what you’ve written, making sure that your post is clear and concise, and that it says what you want to say and how you want to say it!
  6. Use active voice. Rather than “I have been blogging” say “I blogged”. Make the subject of your sentence DO the action. If you’re giving advice, give advice – you don’t have to worry about softening it.
  7. Beware the wall of text. Blog paragraphs are shorter than normal paragraphs because they are intended to be read on a computer monitor. Formatting is especially important on blogs (and probably should be a Matticus post all in itself) – for now, be aware of what your text looks like when its posted. Is it easy to read, or is it a mind-bending, eye-boggling wall of swimming text on a screen?

Obviously this is just the surface of things that help make your blog more readable, but they are some of the most important. Some of them are easy, some of them are hard. For me, coming up with good titles is often the hardest thing to do. Writing and editing is easier (I have an academic writing background), but catchy titles? Eep!

And, so you don’t think I’m some kind of blogging whiz kid, some of these tips have been garnered from months of reading Lorelle on WordPress – her blogging tip section is extensive and AWESOME.

1 comment to Blog Tipping: Writing for Reading

  • Good tips. I have a couple of others if you don’t mind.

    Use fonts that are readable. Verdana was designed for computer monitors (as I understand it) and is very readable. Some others are less so.

    High contrast. I use white on black, which is ok, but black test on white background is easier on the eyes. Blue on black is hard and some other combinations are awful.

    Your note about the use of tabloids for headlines is great. Headlines get the eyeballs into the story. Problogger.com did some recent stuff on that. Head on over and enter “titles” in the search box. You’ll find the post.