How you present your writing online is arguably just as important as the quality of the writing itself. An optimized article format, paired with some straightforward design choices, can really make your writing have a stronger impact online.
1. Cut your total copy in half
Unless you’re writing a dissertation or something, there’s absolutely no need for your article to be thousands and thousands of words long. Remember, you’re writing for mere mortals with average to short attention spans.
There are so many articles I’ve read where I get through what seems like the “meat” of the writing — only to keep scrolling and realize there’s twenty-seven more paragraphs.
Don’t do that. Take as many words as you need to initially get the idea out in a draft, but give it another pass or two and refine the thinking.
Editing while writing will certainly lead to frustration, so make sure to only do it secondarily — but don’t overlook the impact that ruthless editing can have in your work.
2. Format for readability
The most optimized width for any line of text is between 50-75 characters. Before you check, yes — this post is about what that looks like (on a laptop or desktop). Nice, right?
Any less and the type becomes too compressed for a good reading rhythm — any more, and your eyes can’t properly scan sentences (which is how we tend to read).
The solution is in the design of your document.
By constraining the layout to a narrower column, you’re creating a more pleasing viewing experience.
While it may seem strange to leave so much “empty space” on the sides of your writing, I guarantee it’s better for the reader’s experience.
Paragraphs are also often a design challenge for articles.
You may have a killer insight on sentence three of a seven sentence paragraph, but… it’s likely to be missed if it’s tucked inside a massive wall of text.
A simple fix is to cut your sentence lengths. Let your phrasing breathe a bit. Write as if you’re speaking to someone with actual breath involved.
3. Think responsively
These days, the vast majority of people are using their phones for internet-browsing, article reading, and content consuming. You’re fooling yourself if you think mobile readability won’t affect someone’s choice to read your work.
It’s true that people have autonomy over their mobile viewing choices — many browsers can adjust text size, auto-format the page for easy reading, or even read it out loud.
But, they shouldn’t have to.
Proper mobile formatting usually comes down to getting two things right: Font choice, and size.
While it sounds silly to even mention, it needs to be said: Nobody can read your calligraphic, custom hand-drawn fonts. At least, nobody wants to read a full article-worth of it.