While surfing the Net, you encounter a curiosity- arousing headline or title. Without much ado, you click on it because it's on a topic you're interested in and would like to know more about.
Little Breathing Space for the EyesHowever, when you arrive at the page, you're disappointed. It is filled with paragraphs with huge chunks of text. It turns out that you've read quite a bit of text on the computer screen for the day.
Your eyes need some breathing space. You decide to forgo reading the content. Never mind if it promises interesting or quality content. Your eyes are not simply up to the task.
One look at how the content is laid out and you've lost 50% of your mood to read. You have experienced the feeling of ploughing through a thick volume of textual sludge. You don't want to go through it again.
Fulfill this Reader ExpectationThe first expectation of a reader who visits a web page is to read quality content which would serve his needs. But that's all he expects. He expect the physical act of reading to be a pleasant one and almost effortless.
How many time have you ignored a book which did not have content laid out in an eye-pleasing manner.
Recently, I went to the library to pick up some books to provide a change from reading ebooks and web articles. I found some interesting titles and proceeded to flip through the pages. Out of the ten or so books I went through, at least eight didn't lure me to read on.
The pages were filled with chunks and chunks of paragraphs without any sub headings to offer relief to the reader's eyes. All seemed intent on pushing the reader's head underwater and keeping it submerged there as long as possible.
My ResolutionI made a quick decision. I decided not to borrow any of those I knew if I did, I wouldn't be taking the trouble to read them.
I read at night for an hour or two after a long day at the office. I definitely would not want to strain my eyes zeroing in on blocks of texts that resembels a facade of a skyscraper.
In the end I borrowed a book which had short chapters and many subheadings without worrying about its content quality. After all, I'm not reading for an examination. I have no time for books that doesn't take reading comfort into consideration.
At that instant I made up my mind not to repeat this mistake in my ebooks. I want the reader to have a comfortable reading experience. I'll make it a point to lay text out with a generous amount of white space. Yes, there'll be plenty of 'breathing space' for the eye.
White Space Doesn't Cost AnythingWhile it's understandable for print books to have small fonts and cramped paragraphs owing to trim production cost, I don't understand the rationale of web content publishers in cramming content into whatever white space is available.
They seem to forget that white space on a web page doesn't cost anything.That's the beauty of web publishing.
These writers seemed not to have paid heed to the proper paragraphing web content. I don't blame them really. When I was transitioning from print writing to web publishing, I was guilty of the same thing.
I was writing technical articles for a content website and I followed the print writing paragraph format. My editors were always pointing out this flaw, requesting me to break up huge blocks of text into smaller paragraphs.
At first I was wondering why they were making a big fuss out of it. Then I realised how tough it is to read text over the computer screen.
A Quick GuideHave you tried reading PDF ebooks over the computer screen? Especially those converted directly from the print version?You know how tough it is to plough through the text.
So, the next time you write you web content or ebook, give your readers a comfortable reading experience. Provide relief for their eyes by employing short paragraphs and a lot of white space around the text.
Break down you content into as many paragraphs as possible. Ideally, stick to one paragraph per point.
As a general guide try not have more than five short sentences per paragraph or three long sentences.
Nobody will complain if you have many paragraphs in your post or article, On the contrary, they'll welcome it and if you keep doing it, you'll be attracting more readers.