How to make your content scannable

Reading time: About 1 minute

This is my weekly installment of “writing about writing,” in which I scan the world to find websites, books and articles to help other writers. Today I discuss a blog post about how to make your content scannable…

I read about 80 blogs a week. And whenever I tell people about this habit of mine they express amazement.

Truth is, I’m not really reading. I’m scanning.

And if you have a blog (or even if you write reports), your readers are likely scanning, too.

This needn’t be a problem — provided you write for the scanners. A recent post by Darren Rowse at did an excellent job of summarizing how to achieve this goal.

10 tips to make your content more scannable

1. Make your key point up front. Journalists (I used to be one) are trained to put their main point near the top of their stories. This helps the readers immediately determine whether the topic is interesting for them.

2. Use lists. Internet readers love lists. That’s because such lists are instantly scannable. (This post is, in itself, a list.)

3. Take advantage of boldface, italics and underlining. Just remember to use these typographical tricks sparingly, to show emphasis. Do it too often and your readers will find your text harder to read. 

4. Use subheadings. Sub-heads are mini-headlines contained within the body of your post. (See above, “10 tips to make your content more scannable”). They give your readers another entry point into your story.

5. Use pictures. Pictures draw your readers’ eyes. Just make sure that you use copyright free images.

6. Try borders and pull quotes. You might uses lines in your text or highlight important passages by repeating them in a headline-sized typeface.

7. Use space. You have have noticed that I have mostly short sentences and very short paragraphs. All of that extra space is pleasing to the eye and makes the text look less daunting and overwhelming.

8. Be sucinct. Your readers don’t have much time. Show them some respect and don’t say more than you need to.

9. Reinforce your main point throughout your post. Make sure your readers are truly going to understand the point you want to make.

10. Don’t introduce too many new ideas in one post. Too much information will only overwhelm your readers and, likely, cause them to turn away.

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