Reading a blog post or a web article should be easy. Some web pages have large blocks of text with very few breaks between them. When I see those, my brain does the TMI (too much information) dance and my eyes move on until they find something easier to look at. When you try to process an unbroken block of text, it’s like trying to eat a whole apple pie in one gulp. You may be able to do it, but you’ll probably get indigestion or choke in the attempt. That’s why paragraphs are important.
Web readers have a short attention span. That’s why you need to make it easy. As you write, remember that you are taking your readers on a journey from point A to point B to point C. Paragraphs are just one of the ways that you do this.
When I worked as an editor, I spent a lot of time making long paragraphs shorter and making sure that each paragraph had a point. This also works for web content writing. All the advice I read on web usability suggests that you make one main point or cover one key idea in each paragraph. Then you expand on it a bit, then move on to the next one. That makes it easy for the eyes and the brain to process – and makes it more likely that people will read your blog posts.
There’s one more way to improve the experience for web content readers. Subheadings serve as navigational markers to tell readers what’s coming in each paragraph. They can skip to the part that interests them, or get an idea whether they need to read the article or blog post at all. Use subheadings and small paragraphs and your readers will thank you and come back for more.
8 thoughts on “Why We Need Paragraphs”
Reading long paragraphs online is something really bothers me, and yet I still have trouble remembering to write short paragraphs with subheadings on my blog. I guess I’m still shedding the writing habits I learned in school. Thanks for the reminder.
It’s easy to get carried away by the subject and forget to break it up for readers. I know that happens to me, but now that I’ve written this I have no excuse for forgetting. 🙂
I uncovered this post as I was writing a ‘how to’ about blogging. I agree with the point about subheadings; they make the text easier to read, and helps to direct the focus of the reader.