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The way we read online is a little different to how we read books – this post looks at things you can do to write for a web audience.

We’ll try to make sure that the fonts, colours and line spacing of your blog won’t hinder your readers, but it’s up to you to make sure your content is easy to read.

We’re not saying you should dumb down your text, just try to keep in mind that anyone in the world could be reading it. Your blog may not be written in their first language or they could be experiencing reading comprehension difficulties, and that could be dyslexia or trying to read on a busy commuter train.

There’s been a lot of research on readability and it’s been described in a number of ways if you’d like to find out more we’d recommend Wikipedia’s readability page as a good starting point.

Easy reading helps learning and enjoyment, so what we write should be easy to understand – Fry, Edward B. 2006. “Readability.” Reading Hall of Fame Book.Newark, DE: International Reading Assn.

Keep it concise

They say that most readers only read 20% of text online so keep it concise. That’s not to say you can’t write very long pieces, but you should consider some of the other tips below if you do.

Scannable titles

Allowing your readers a quick and easy route to the content they want is very helpful. Typically online readers are trying to complete a specific task (like getting an explanation for a specific word, idea or subject).
If they’re met with a wall of text, they’ll move on to the next blog.

Using headers not only lets your readers quickly see what a paragraph is about, it also helps with Search Engine Optimisation.

Other ways to scan

  • Use bullets to break up lists
  • Keywords are better at the start of sentences
  • Highlight important keywords or points in a paragraph (aim for one per paragraph)
  • Use images to support your content

Avoid or explain jargon

It’s easy to assume that your readers know exactly what you’re talking about but you never know who’s stumbled across your blog. If you must use jargon make sure you use the abbr tag to explain difficult words and acronyms.

Annotate, tag and categorise

Help your readers find the content they want (and as a bonus, you’ll help search engines understand your site better).

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