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The 10 Commandments of Formatting Blog Posts

Blogs should be easy and fun for your readers. Not just the content, but the act of reading itself. Take these 10 formatting tips into account next time you write a post, and give your readers a break for once.

I'm Nick and I have a uncanny obsession with words. I live, breath, and even eat (alphabet cereal) words all day, everyday. You should definitely subscribe because we're going to put out some of the most insightful marketing content you'll ever come across.

Posted on March 21, 2016 in Content

Article Cliff Notes

Quality content formatted poorly is like an Armani suit that doesn’t fit—an expensive embarrassment.

Readers won’t stick around for hard-to-read content, no matter how awesome you think it is.

Keep everything short and sweet, from your headlines to your paragraphs to your sentences.

In the Dark Times of blogging—those ancient days of outdated, misguided traditions—a cry rang out over the mountains.

It was a cry for sanity. For common sense. For objectivity.

It was a cry for proper blog formatting, so that content may shine brightly, and blogs would never again be a desert wasteland of confusion.

Reading content should be a joy for thine followers, a feast of knowledge for their parched minds.

You too can achieve content salvation, if and only if you adhere to the following commandments of blog formatting.

1. Thou shalt adorn thine blog posts with interesting and provocative headlines.

It’s time to start creating magnetic headlines that ensnare readers like the cold stare of Medusa.

Your headline is the first (and often only) impression you make on a prospective reader. Without a compelling pitch, the rest of your words may as well not even exist.

Attention is fleeting, and even subpar headlines mean your prize-winning posts will go unread and unnoticed.

2. Thou shalt use subheadlines that communicate value and provoke interest.

Writing is easy. All you have to do is cross out the wrong words.

— Mark Twain

Throughout your blog posts you should have subheadlines that keep doing the dirty work for your original headline.

That’s because everyone scans content first. If we see potential value, we go back through and read the whole thing.

Subheadlines are critical to turning scanners into readers. Use them effectively, and watch your content flourish like the ancient hanging gardens of Babylon.

3. Thou shalt bold and italicize keywords to draw attention.

Can you see a pattern here? Our attention spans are very short these days and we aren’t too inclined to actually read anything.

In fact, here’s a summary of an important study you should check out:

  • 79% of test users scanned any new page they came across; only 16 percent read word-for-word;
  • On an average visit, users read at least half the provided information only on pages with 111 words or less (you can imagine if there’s more than 111 words);
  • Users will read about 20% of the text on an average page;

Bolding and italicizing throughout your blog posts is another method to draw back people that are only scanning your content.

Pretty simple, right? So start doing it.

4. Thou shalt construct every sentence with engagement in mind.

Every single sentence matters.

You are literally fighting for attention with each piece of content you create.

Ideally, every sentence should be packed with meaning and value. No wasted space, no wasted words, no wasted energy.

If you read 3 or 4 sentences that have zero impact on you, aren’t you likely to bail on the whole blog post? Me too.

Make every sentence as impactful as possible.

This is how we are so good at converting clicks to customers. Words!

5. Thou shalt use short sentences.

Short sentences work.

The most valuable of all talents is that of never using two words where one will do.

— Thomas Jefferson

Isn’t this easy to read?

Right.

Long, meandering sentences tend to lose your reader. They’re hard to follow. And odds are, each monster sentence you write can probably be shortened to something more concise, something easier for your readers to follow. Behold:

Odds are, every sentence you write can be condensed.

Use short sentences. They just work.

6. Thou shalt honor concise, powerful words.

We don’t use simple words because your readers are too stupid to understand big words. We use simple words because your readers use simple words when they speak.

And writing should mimic speaking.

Brevity is a skill, and it takes time to develop. Start practicing it with the words you speak and write and notice how much more impact you have on people.

This takes critical thought and objective evaluation on your part. Does what you’re saying actually add value and meaning? If it doesn’t, nix it. Everything else is hot air.

7. Thou shalt use short paragraphs.

Your readers aren’t stupid. But if they’re anything like the rest of us, they have ADD when it comes to reading online.

Everyone, and I mean everyone, hesitates when they stand at the base of a monstrous paragraph. 8 sentences? Forget about it.

Subconsciously, people are always asking themselves:

“Is it worth using my energy to wade through this?”

Your readers won’t scale mountains to get through your content. Use short paragraphs—preferably 4 sentences or less. Don’t make them work too hard, or they won’t work at all.

8. Thou shalt convey only one idea per paragraph.

Organize your thoughts, organize your paragraphs.

One idea per paragraph. Remember, a paragraph should only be up to 4 lines—how much stuff can you jam in there, anyway?

We aren’t writing prose here.

9. Thou shalt write less than conventional writing dictates.

Brevity, but on a macro level.

If it takes a lot of words to say what you have in mind, give it more thought.

— Dennis Roth

Get to the point with every word, sentence, and piece of content.

Remember, internet readers have an attention deficit. It is what it is.

Stop assuming people are inclined to care about your stuff. They don’t.

Online readers will only pay attention to your ideas if you present them in ways that command their attention. That means packing as much value into as little space as possible.

10. For the love of God, use bullet points.

Bullet points provide a great reader experience because they break up the monotony of your wall o’ text.

Bullet points:

  • Are a great way to organize;
  • Are easy to read;
  • Demand attention and turn scanners into readers;
  • Provide white space (a breath of fresh air for readers).

Find ways to use bullets throughout your blog posts. Get creative. You can easily turn a huge, intimidating paragraph into a list of bullets that people love.

All it takes is a little ingenuity.

Your readers will appreciate it—trust me.

An Eye for an Eye, a Click for a Click

These commandments are written for thine own good. Adhere to them and watch thine blog posts flourish. Fail to adhere to them and expect the wrath of a thousand suns.

It is fully within your power to avoid the plague of reader disengagement and the curse of Google invisibility. Simply obey these 10 Commandments, and all will be well.

Written by

I'm Nick and I have a uncanny obsession with words. I live, breath, and even eat (alphabet cereal) words all day, everyday. You should definitely subscribe because we're going to put out some of the most insightful marketing content you'll ever come across.

Posted on March 21, 2016 in Content