Shorter Paragraphs Are Easier On The Eyes

지난달

Creating effective paragraphs directly impacts readability.

I spend a lot of time reading online. I read a lot of posts on both Medium and Steem. Nothing will stop me faster from reading on the screen than large blocks of unbroken text.


Image from Pixabay

When writing for computer or mobile device screens, the paragraph and spacing is even important. Short, two to four sentence paragraphs are easier to read.

Do you really want to make your reader struggle to read your post? I know I don’t. I want you to start on the first word of my post and have no desire to stop until you get to the last word.

Invite Your Reader to Start at the First and Read to the End

I’d love to start at the first word of your post and read to the last while enjoying the experience.

Writing is about how well you put your thoughts into words. How you present those thoughts can make a huge difference. Invite the reader to start at the first and finish at the end. Make it a warm and pleasant reading experience.

The first step you need to take is to forget how teachers taught you to do paragraphs in school.

Those of us raised reading on the printed page often saw long paragraphs making them seem the norm. Viewing on an electronic screen is a different experience.

Our eyes react differently to electrons than paper.

The Evolution of the Paragraph

Paragraphs have evolved through the ages. In the oldest Greek texts, the only form of punctuation mentioned by Aristotle was a horizontal line called the paragraphos. It was placed under the beginning of a line in which a new topic was introduced.

By the 17th century the line space between paragraphs was introduced along with the concepts of indenting and capitalizing the start of a sentence.

The line space wasn’t strongly adopted until well into the 20th century. Printing on wood based papers rather than vellum drastically dropped the cost of printing. Line spaces no longer cost a lot to use.

The indent disappeared with screen reading. The “white” space created by a paragraph break gives the eye a very brief rest. Reading on a screen can tire the eyes quickly.

Adjusting for screen reading is one more evolution.

What Should A Paragraph Look Like?

Paragraphs introduce a new topic.

In printed text, the paragraph will introduce the topic and discussion. On the screen, paragraphs need to break the topic into related discussions similar to the format you see when reading a newspaper.

Notice the paragraphs in this post are varied but not long?

That is what you’re shooting for when writing a post. You need to break the text up with headings or graphics. Large paragraphs broken with graphics doesn’t do it. Your paragraphs need to be as compact as possible.

An Example to Illustrate

Here is a paragraph I plucked out of a post of overlong paragraphs. I wont center-out the author by naming him/her.

The Original:

Don't just sit there and be a bank or a "baller" in some cases. That won't mean a damn thing when you cannot access any of it. DO SOMETHING positive with that! Invest in the network that pays your bills. This would be akin to helping to build highways in a local or national level. These help everyone, but ESPECIALLY those that use them more often. Investments like these by large corporations, guilds, associations, committees and organizations in the "real world" insure that their products and ideas can spread abroad thus equaling more profits for them in the long run simply because they invested in the means in which people will access these products and ideas, and how they are distributed. This is no different with steem. The technology that runs this network (seed nodes) provide the means for product sellers (authors and curators) to distribute their ideas and products abroad. They are our highways. Our pipelines and utilities. It is critically important that these are not only always working and available (so that our products can be consumed without issue), but it is also critical that control of these said "highways" be neutral and unaffected by the politics that are at hand within the current hierarchy of top 10 witnesses. This is not meant to piss anyone off or undermine anyone's effort. It's not meant to step on anyone's toes or invoke a spirit of competition with anyone else's interests in any way. This is a problem that affects everyone so getting witness votes and support from whales (not just other witnesses or top 20 witnesses) is essential to help the community flourish.

Pretty brutal reading, right? Let’s make it an easier read. I will resist the urge to rewrite the paragraph.

Don't just sit there and be a bank or a "baller" in some cases. That won't mean a damn thing when you cannot access any of it. DO SOMETHING positive with that! Invest in the network that pays your bills.

This would be akin to helping to build highways in a local or national level. These help everyone, but ESPECIALLY those that use them more often.

Investments like these by large corporations, guilds, associations, committees and organizations in the "real world" insure that their products and ideas can spread abroad thus equaling more profits for them in the long run simply because they invested in the means in which people will access these products and ideas, and how they are distributed. This is no different with steem.

The technology that runs this network (seed nodes) provide the means for product sellers (authors and curators) to distribute their ideas and products abroad. They are our highways. Our pipelines and utilities.

It is critically important that these are not only always working and available (so that our products can be consumed without issue), but it is also critical that control of these said "highways" be neutral and unaffected by the politics that are at hand within the current hierarchy of top 10 witnesses.

This is not meant to piss anyone off or undermine anyone's effort. It's not meant to step on anyone's toes or invoke a spirit of competition with anyone else's interests in any way.

This is a problem that affects everyone so getting witness votes and support from whales (not just other witnesses or top 20 witnesses) is essential to help the community flourish.

Do you see the difference in the reading experience?

The exact same words, made easier to take in. Well, there was a run on sentence. That wasn’t for me to fix.

Don’t Forget the Section Headers

Once you have your content broke into varied paragraphs, you also need to add section headers. Ideally, someone scanning your post will get a decent idea of the content just from the section headers. Most people will scan a post before reading.

Brought To You By:

This post is brought to you by a curmudgeon who has seen too many posts that are painful to read. Please treat me to a pleasant reading experience.

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While I agree with you in general about short paragraphs you must realize there's an aesthetic beyond small bites and baby steps. You make the point that electronic media has altered the playing field and that's true, but it has also shortened the attention span.

Readers today tend more to be viewers - they are not literate in the traditional sense but more in terms of a 'media literacy'. In fact, readers will not in all likelihood plough through your longish post despite your headers and bold type. I try to aim for 500-700 words, but I'm not blogging - I'm creating literary art and posting stories and poems and even serializing novels exclusively designed for Steemit, although I don't flog that aspect - it seems too unseemly.

I tend to go beyond short paragraphs and gather them into sections with more white space, of course. There are different exigencies that come into play according to different genres of writing. You might want to look into how clarity and appeal could apply to these other types of posts.

Overall, you did a good job presenting your ideas and I think all members of the community could benefit from persisting and reading your post thoroughly and implementing your observations. Good work.

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The post is 1180 words which includes the example paragraph of 274 x 2 words = 548 .. I totally expected most people would not read through the example more than scan to see the difference in layout. That brings the post down to 632 words. So there was a method in my madness :)

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Ah, skimming and scanning - skills that aren't taught much anymore - I met an Engineer once who told me after he left university that he discovered the Index in the back of books - "Could have used that nifty tool," he remarked. Uh, yeah...

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oh my indexes and TOCs... basic and important tools.

Thank you for supporting @CatsMakeKittens by being a part of our community @shadowspub.

Each CATS you purchase gets you daily upvotes from me @CatScientist as our community grows so do your rewards for being a member!

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From a fellow curmudgeon...
Kudos!

Wonderful advise from the Queen of Post Curation and veteran blogger. I totally concur.

As you (along with anyone who has known me for any period) know; my eyes tend to wander. I certainly don't want your eyes to wander from my posts !

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thanks @sgt-dan .. I usually manage to focus on yours.
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I love this so much Shadow, such amazing advice in how to write and make it more Readable for the reader 😉 I am no write really, but I always love to learn more as we can all improve right?
I have never used that screen look in text but you are right, it looks much better and easy on the eyes to read.
We all want People to read from first to last sentence and you sure knows good way to make that happen.

Thank you for sharing this and teaching us about writing, loved this.
Have a wonderful sunday my friend and much love to You ❤️💋🌹

Was gonna send a hug but...I know..So sending love 😁 lol

@alliedforces curate

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You got some love from a member of @thealliance family!
Keep up the great work!
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Current VP: 97.07%

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thank you @saffisara .. I appreciate your kind words.
!SHADE 3

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I know we talked about that too, in the intros we come across. I think thats a great advice in the beginning. It’s so muchh nicer looking too. You want your blog brain child to look good too after its readable hahhaa
Thanks going to use this rule in the steemterminal blogs
Have a great Sunday

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glad to be of help @brittandjosie

Good stuff @shadowspub!

Through the course of writing stuff and thus having to read and edit it I have found that shorter paragraphs are very helpful but I never considered the difference between reading printed media and digital media from a readers standpoint.

I do my best to keep the paragraphs short and sweet but it is often difficult to not be long winded!

Cheers and Happy Steeming!

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You can be long winded.. just in multiple paragraphs LOL

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Haha! Multiple brief paragraphs! :)

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