Here are four ways to make posts scannable:
- Use Bullet Points: This is a technique I like, as both a writer and a reader. They add clarity without adding words.
- Have Numbered Lists: A numbered list also makes posts scannable. Numbered lists and bullet points accomplish the same thing in similar fashion, so how do we decide which one to use? If we state a number of items in our post or title, number the list, else use bullets. The exception is when we have more than five items, then number them, because too many bullet points cease to standout, whereas numbered lists keep points separate.
- Add Subheadings: A similar technique is subheads. I seldom do this in posts, but often do in articles, which are longer. Bloggers who pen long posts often insert subheads to break text into bite-size titbits. However, with short posts there’s never a need for subheads.
- Bold Important Words or Phrases: In normal writing, don’t use formatting embellishments to highlight words. That’s sloppy. (See my post on creative writing.) However, with the informal nature of blog posts, the judicious use of bold can benefit. In addition to making bullets, numbered lists, or subheads bold, we can place notable words or phrases in bold – if we’re careful. Some bloggers get carried away and use bold so much that is ceases to help. As a guideline, never put more than 15% of a post in bold. (Here’s an example.)
What other ideas do you have to make posts scannable? What are your favorite techniques?
Peter DeHaan is an author, publisher, and editor. He gives back to the writing community through this blog. Get insider info from his monthly newsletter. Sign up today!