A simple step for improving website copy

Want one quick tip for making  your content easier to read online?  Shorten the paragraphs.

Lately I’ve done a lot of editing of website pages, and the first thing I do is shorten the  paragraphs. If nothing else, I break a long paragraph into two.

Then I start trimming unnecessary words. Once you shorten those paragraphs to their key points, the fluff becomes more obvious.

It pains me to give this advice, as I come from a long line of wordy people.  The literary icon in my family is George Kennan – a Pulitzer-winning writer in history who could keep multi-clause sentences spinning like a juggler.  He made his name initially with the infamous “Long Telegram” about the Soviet Union. I’m not sure if his superiors were more impressed with the content or shocked by the length.

He couldn’t be brief even when paying by the word to send his message.

This is a different era, and reading online is a different discipline. While long paragraphs are fine in literary fiction or academic discourse, they are not appropriate for online reading.  Faced with long blocks of text, the online reader is likely to just click away.

B2B technology websites sometimes are often very wordy. It’s understandable, you have a lot to say.  But don’t to try to say it all on your web page.  Give people the chance to drill down, or to download a document for deeper reading if that is necessary.

Forget the grammar school rules about the structure of a paragraph.  Think about the visual impact of your text, and keep the paragraphs a scannable size.

One Comment on “A simple step for improving website copy

  1. Pingback: Bigger is rarely better in content marketing « Content Marketing for Technology

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