Health IS Technology Blog

Making Your Blogposts Readable: Tips From USF Content Writers


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Talk To Your Readers, Don't Write At Them

The main thing you want to keep in mind when writing anything is your readers. Topic and tone all depend on your intended audience, but the way you write shouldn’t change. You should always write your posts for your audience in a very similar tone to how you would speak to them. That’s why it’s always a great idea to read any writing you’ve done aloud to test it for any mistakes in verbiage or syntax.

So, for example, let’s say you’re writing a post about content management systems for your business blog. While you want to have a tone that is informative and professional, you don’t want your writing to sound stiff or forced. Take a look at the paragraph below:

“Basically, a CMS enables multiple users to manage a website or application. Managing in this sense refers to creating, editing, and publishing content. For instance, think of a website you visit a lot, such as Facebook or Amazon. Neither of those sites would be able to fully function with just one user contributing to the management of its content. Instead, they each have extensive teams of developers working on the same interface to make the sites as optimized as possible.”

Notice how in this paragraph we are informing our readers while still staying conversational. We’re using transition words to keep our sentences seamless. Note also that while the sentences are not overly complex, they are also not incredibly short. A tip that is often thrown around in terms of making writing more readable is to use short, concise sentences. It’s important to remember when aiming for this to not only use short sentences, as that will get just as repetitive and displeasing as would using only long, complex sentences.

Make It As Visually Interesting As It Is Intellectually Interesting

If you’ve ever sought out any writing or SEO tips before, then hearing that your content needs to be aesthetically pleasing will sound a lot like a broken record. Still, it is vital to break up your text with elements like headers, bold text, and images. When you ask your readers to face a huge wall of text, a good chunk of them will click away. Research popular blogs and news sites to understand how audiences are accustomed to reading online.

Take a look at this section of a Buzzfeed article about a new technology called CRISPR:

Visual element for readability example

Notice the large font size, the ample spacing, the concise paragraph lengths, and the bold quote. Even though this is still a relatively large amount of text, the way it's formatted makes it much more digestible. UX Researcher Elyse Lewis has a great deal of experience with content writing. Her research into User Experience, however, has helped her even more to understand how content should be shaped. She says,

"The layout of the content can have a big impact on its readability. For example, including distinct headers, images, and other visual elements can improve the reading experience and aid in navigation of the content. We have a great article on that topic entitled Understanding Online Reading Patterns."

Don't Worry About Length, Worry About Message

Another readability tip that's thrown around concerns length of content. For a long time, everyone thought that blogposts needed to be at least 500 words, and no more than 3,000 words, to be ideal. The truth is that the length of your post doesn't really matter, as long as you have enough information to clearly explain your points.

When it comes to length, just like most other elements of your writing, your decisions depend on your audience. As Elyse explains,

"I think that one of the most important things to remember when preparing any type of content is the intended audience. What will they be delighted, informed, and held captive by as they read your words? Is there a way to phrase something that will be more interesting, humorous, or otherwise relatable for the audience based on what you know about them? If you can put yourself in their shoes as you're outlining, writing, and editing your content, you will increase your odds of delivering interesting and highly valuable material for them."

Writing a blogpost is not the same as writing an essay, the most familiar form of long term writing to most of us. Learning to be more concise, conversational, and visually varying can be tricky. But once you master the nuances of blog writing, you and your business will benefit exponentially.

USF Health Information Systems is a comprehensive technology group serving the needs of the Academic Research and Clinical missions. We partner with our customers to deliver agile responsive technology solutions that drive business value and make life better for our students and patients. Be informed at all times by visiting health.usf.edu/is/. You can connect directly via phone by calling (813) 974-6288 or by sending us an email via support@health.usf.edu, after hours.

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Bekah Witten
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Bekah is the content writer for the University of South Florida department of Information Technology.