What Do I Mean By Modern Blog Post Formatting?
Formatting is the art of creating a visual message with your words. For example, regular formatting in a blog post means creating bullet points, sub topics, numbered lists, highlighted text links, paragraphs, etc. All of these things help a blog post become easier to read and the information easier to digest.
So how can you use formatting to spur your humor posts?
There are really only two rules to remember when writing for your reader.
Rule #1: Readers skim. Don’t assume your reader is going to hang on your every word! Your readers are coming to your post to solve a problem as quickly as is humanly possible, and since I’m willing to wager that you are not the equivalent of William Shakespeare…I am ALSO going to wager that your readers are not hanging on your EVERY word.
Rule #2: It’s more daunting to read something on a computer screen than it is on a page. Not only are there distractions…but the format itself does NOT lend itself to ease on the eyes. In addition to that, it’s usually fairly difficult to tell how long the post you are reading really is unless the reader scrolls to the bottom of the page.
So with these digital road blocks, how do you get through to your reader with your life changing information? TEXTUAL HEALING!! Ahem…I mean TEXTUAL FORMATTING!!!
Top Ten Types of Textual Formatting
- Bullet Points – Bullet points help set aside a quick list of important topics for your reader. They are usually located right under a sub title in a blog post and are helpful when you know your customer will be skimming your article for a quick answer.
- Numbered Lists – Numbered lists are not only great for traffic, but they are kick ass for keeping your blog posts organized and easy to read. Numbered lists are usually used in blog posts like “10 Steps to….”, “5 Times Chris Pratt Made Me Shoot Milk Out My Nose”, etc. These types of posts set the reader up for an easy answer…so traffic is usually higher for these.
- Colored Highlighting – Colored highlighting can be used to pull the reader into an important part of the post or draw attention to a URL. For example, in this course, I use colors to set the sub sections apart, show you where to find your homework, and highlight links that I believe are important to speed up your progress. You can also use colored text in conjunction with Numbered Lists and Bullet Points to help the topic of each point really pop out.
- Sub Titles – Sub Titles are ASTOUNDINGLY important for your readers…especially if you write posts longer that 500 words. You can see an example of sub titles in this module! (I KNOW!!! THRILLING!!) The areas of this post titled “Readers Rules”, “Top Ten Types o Textual Formatting”, “Modern Formatting” and “Formatting While Remaining Professional” are all examples of sub titles. You can easily skip the sections you don’t think are necessary to answer your questions or find a section you’ve read earlier for reference! If your posts don’t use sub titles, your readers are more likely to hit up your blog post…then hit up the back button.Tip: I use sub titles to outline my posts BEFORE I start writing them! Write your subtitles, then go back and fill in the information. I’ve actually found that this speeds up my writing process exponentially!!
- Punctuation – Punctuation is a fickle beast. From periods to the overuse of exclamation marks (guilty as charged) punctuation helps to establish a voice your readers can relate to but not hear. Punctuation helps your readers know where to pause for a natural breath (commas), which words need emphasis (capital letters), when a sentence is a question and should be asked with a lilt at the end (question marks), and so much more!
- Indentation – Indentations are like the red headed step child of the numbered lists and bullet points. It is usually used in conjunction with one of the two. On occasion, it’s not, though! If you are trying to set aside a quote or a Tweet This link, you will most likely use an indentation to draw attention to the text.
- Font and Font Size – Font is Fun! You can use various fonts for titles and sub titles along with various sizes of font illustrate it’s importance. For example, the subtitles will be smaller than the titles, but larger than the paragraph text. To improve ease of reading (and your blog’s readability score) you can increase your paragraph font size to make your posts less intimidating and easier on the eyes.
- Imagery – Breaking up your post sections with imagery does two things. It pulls your reader into an area which they might have been originally skimming and it helps to break up the intimidating amount of text on your webpage. ONLY use imagery in your posts to evoke the emotion you are trying to get across or illustrate your solution. For example, use a gif to connect with your audience while using a reference they immediately recognize.
There ARE a few rules, however. When you are using images, make sure they relate to what it is you are trying to get across and DON’T GO IMAGE CRAZY!!! DON’T use a gif with every paragraph you write. (Your post will start to look like a digital zoo of people you’ve trapped in tiny boxes.) Instead, follow the 20-70 rule. Seventy percent of your post needs to be text, and only include about 2 images per post. Any more and the images become TOO distracting and lose their impact.
- Column Width – White space is your friend!! Make sure that, even if you don’t have sidebars on your posts, you are limiting the width of your blog posts. Posts that stretch from one side of the screen to the other are automatically assumed to be boring. I kid you not! They are perceived as wordy and just…not fun to read. If you do not have a limited column width, get hold of your template designer and ask how to implement that into the HTML code…or dive into the code if you are brave enough!
- Short Paragraphs – I. Love. Reading. …… I. Hate. Reading. Long. Paragraphs. AND I’M NOT ALONE! When you read a post online, it’s SUPER easy to get distracted, lose interest, or just go all “glazy eyeballs”. Keep your paragraphs short 5-10 sentences a pop and break up the paragraphs with indentations, spaces between, sub titles, etc.
The basics of blog formatting become kind of second nature over time…but the basics of modern formatting (especially if you haven’t had the pleasure of speaking in craponyms with a 10 year via text) is a little bit more tricky.
Modern blog post formatting is, first and foremost, all about breaking the rules. As much as you might cringe, the world communicates today with smiley faces and widgets. If you don’t have much experience with all of this, I recommend catching up on some reading in the Young Adults section of B&N. One of my FAVORITE teen authors, Louise Rennison, pretty much mastered the art of the modern formatting. In her book Angus, Thongs and Full Frontal Snogging, she write a journal from the perspective of a 15 year old girl…it’s hilarious, modern and plastered with “LOLs”.
What are some of the most common forms of modern formatting?
- Smiley Faces – Yep! Our world inspired by Shakespeare, Jane Austen, Tolkien and Scott Card has been overtaken by tiny yellow faces inspired by a 60’s mass produced print to raise employee moral. Head/desk. That headache aside, they are the current communication of the digital world. Instead of writing “That’s funny”….you get a maniacally grinning face with teeth. Instead of writing “Well…shit!” you get grinning pile of digi poo. Although emoticons are not necessarily prevalent in the blogging world…their archaic counterparts are.
- Over Punctuation – Another form of modern formatting that REALLY pisses off members of the grammilitia is the overuse of exclamation points, question marks and ellipses. I hate to bust their bubble…but the voice of the digital world has changed, and thus…so have the rules. Sure, a novel should still follow the basic rules of grammar, but when you are writing a blog post from YOUR point of view, five exclamation marks can really hit home your point of outrage.
- Acronyms – Digital communication is ALL about getting answers fast. What better way to do that than to not use words at all?? Again….head/desk. No matter how you look at it, acronyms are one of the most important aspects of communicating digitally AND connecting with an audience that understands them. Along with LOL, LMAO, BRB, OMG, WTF, AF, IG, FB, DM, RT, PM, B2B, CTA, PPC, ROI, and PV…I’ve included a handy list that you can download, print and keep on your desk right here!
- Tweet This – Tweet This is a widget you can install in your WordPress Dashboard that will automatically set aside text your readers can tweet out to their audience. What makes this a form of formatting, however, is the automatic indentation, font size increase, font style and font color that take place. It’s pretty magical!!There are a TON of widgets you can use within your blog’s text (one of my faves is “Inline Related Posts” which automatically suggests a post in the same category as the reader is reading). Make sure you are not OVERUSING widgets and that each one you have activated is doing something to further your traffic or saving you time.
- The Digital Yell – Do you cry more, more, more? (Har, har, har…). Digital yelling is simply writing everything in all caps. If you want your readers to LITERALLY read a sentence as though you are raising your voice, use caps! I actually use caps to emphasize the words I want my readers to internally read with…well…emphasis. 😀 <—-Smiley Face!
Formatting While Remaining Professional
The final thing on my agenda is to really make sure you understand how to use this modern punctuation and still sound professional. Here are just a few rules for your to follow:
Rule #1: Make sure you understand the basic rules of grammar before you break them. Otherwise, you’ll sound like a 15 year old with an iPhone.
Rule #2: ONLY use a modern grammar format if it makes sense. For example, don’t write your entire post in caps just because you like the way it looks. Don’t use emoticons after every sentence…someone will commit you shortly. And go light on the acronyms! If the world ends and your post is all that survives our culture…future populations of this planet will think we were idiots.
I’m not going to lie…I didn’t know I would love writing that post so much!!! I hope you loved reading as much as I loved writing it…and I can’t wait to see how you use these rules in your own posts and products!! After you’ve downloaded the download, be sure to head over to the Facebook Group and let us know what your favorite modern formatting techniques are!
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