When it comes down to it, the majority of your readers aren’t actually reading your posts or webpages. Instead, they are scanning your content, stopping for individual words or sentences. In fact, research from the Nielsen Norman Group found that 79 percent of readers always scanned any new page they came across. Further, only 16 percent read pages word-by-word.
So, if your ultimate goal is to have more people read your writing, then you should be adjusting to your audience. Here are 6 ways to make your content easier to scan and effortless to consume:
1. Highlighting: Make important or useful information standout. Bold, italicized, colored or hyperlinked text is more noticeable. Just don’t overdo it or it will lose its effect.
2. Subheads: Clear, concise subheads will immediately tell scanners what they need to know. Resist the temptation to be overly cute or clever as it only slows scanners down.
3. Bullet Points: Bullets break up text and organize information into meaningful chunks. Bullet lists help scanners quickly find the information that is most important to them.
4. Whitespace: Big blocks of text can be intimidating for scanners. Whitespace, much like bullet points, helps organize text and gives your copy a more manageable and scannable appearance.
5. Single-point paragraphs: Online readers are usually looking for takeaways, especially if they are researching a service or product. Focused single-point paragraphs make takeaways easier to find and help you incorporate more whitespace.
6. Inverted Pyramid presentation: The Inverted Pyramid puts the most important information at the beginning of a post and then the remaining information follows in order of importance, with the least important information at the bottom. Web writers who start with their conclusion and work backwards usually have an easier time engaging impatient readers who want to get straight to the point.
Each of these on-page elements give people something to hang their attention on as they move through your content. Without them, your writing could appear too overwhelming for many readers to even begin.