When it comes to blogging, how your words are visually presented to the reader can be just as important as what you write. People read differently on the Web than they do in print. And your blog post formatting should reflect that.
Here are five basic blog formatting tips that can help you improve your blog post presentation.
1. Use subheadings.
Subheadings break up your blog post text, making it easier for readers to visually scan the page. This lets them find the exact information they're looking for, get the gist of the content before reading it fully, and find out whether or not your blog post is likely to interest them.
Blog post subheadings can be as simple as bold text, or they can be more elaborately formatted using heading tags (h1, h2, etc.) and your blog's stylesheet.
2. Use numbered or bulleted lists.
Lists are another way to break your blog posts up into bite-sized pieces. That happens not only visually, but also contextually.
Lists help readers get right to the point. They can quickly browse a list of resources. They can scan a list of links for other interesting material to read. Or they can quickly identify tips that best apply to them.
Blog post lists can be handled in several ways. For example, you can:
- use bulleted lists (like this one);
- use indented numbered lists;
- use your subheadings as list items if your list is short (again, like this post does).
3. Keep paragraphs short.
When you write for the Web, your content shouldn't resemble a textbook. Keep your paragraphs short (such as 1-4 lines on-screen). Remember, we live in an age of instant gratification. Make it easy for readers to get the information they want quickly.
Keep your font choices in mind here. What you see when you type your blog post won't necessarily represent what readers see on your live blog. For example, on this blog I use a fairly large font, so paragraphs are only 1-2 lines in my post editor.
4. Use images when appropriate.
I've seen quite a few popular bloggers insist that you must use images in your blog posts if you want to appeal to readers. And that's correct, some of the time. But it's not true in all niches.
For example, several of my blogs target writers. Those readers care more about the text on the page than images. And after years of testing, I've not seen a single benefit to adding images to most of those blog posts. If anything, images for the sake of having images have been criticized.
That said, I've also worked on blogs where images were a must in every post (sometimes even multiple images). It's about knowing your audience. By all means, if an image helps you illustrate a point, use one. Just don't gratuitously litter your posts with images that add no value to the reader.
5. Choose fonts and colors wisely.
This one is a personal pet peeve. Please take your readers into consideration when you choose fonts and colors for your blog posts.
Light text on dark backgrounds gets very uncomfortable to read. Obscure fonts can be almost indecipherable. And tiny text will make your readers feel like their eyes are going to bleed (okay, maybe this one is just me).
Can you think of other blog post formatting tips for new bloggers? What formatting and design choices make it easier for you to read blogs posts, and what drives you away? Share your thoughts in the comments.
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Jennifer Mattern is a professional blogger, freelance business writer, and indie author. She began writing for clients in 1999 and started her first blog in 2004.
She owns 3 Beat Media -- a publishing and client services company which operates All Indie Writers as well as several other websites and blogs including The Busy Author's Guide and BizAmmo. Jenn comes from a background in online PR and social media consulting, having owned a small PR firm for several years before choosing to pursue a full-time writing and publishing career.
Jenn also writes fiction under multiple pen names in the areas of children's fiction, mysteries, and horror fiction. Jenn is an active member of the Horror Writers Association (HWA) and currently serves as the organization's Assistant Coordinator of Promotions and Social Media.
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