We have found that if you find an emotionally compelling idea, adopt an easy-to-read style, and keep it concise and to the point, your content will be easier to understand. This week and next we look at ways to structure your document to make it easier to read. This week Step #4: Make it skim-able.
Step #4: Make it skim-able
You can make your document more user-friendly by providing cues that promote skimming. There are a couple tricks you can use to help these readers out.
Trick #1: Use headings
Headings show your readers how your document is organized. And they let your reader skim the text to find the information they’re looking for. Readers on the Internet tend to move on to something else if they don’t find what they’re looking for quickly. In longer documents, add a table of contents at the beginning, too.
There are several ways to write a heading. You can state it as a question, as a phrase or as a declarative sentence:
- “Are there two kinds of people in the world?”
- “Two kinds of people in the world”
- Declarative sentence. “There are two kinds of people in the world.”
Trick #2: Break up blocks of text with bulleted/numbered lists
Lists are easy for readers to skim. Choose numbers when presenting a list with items in a specific sequence or rank order. Use bullets when the items listed are equivalent in importance.
These tricks improve readability because:
- They make it easier for readers to find what they want.
- They make your content less intimidating by breaking it up visually.
Do you have a white paper or case study that didn’t bring the return on investment you had hoped for? Perhaps it needs a Readability Revamp.
I am a water quality scientist with fantastic writing skills. I offer a service that can improve your content’s ROI. I take the text and bring the FK score down. I improve the readability without “dumbing” it down. By increasing understanding, I help your readers take the action you desire.
Contact me to discuss your next content project.