Writing Skills

3 New Rules for Writing Paragraphs in an Online World

Sometimes it’s not worth re-inventing the wheel, like this week when I was all set to write about paragraphs and then I read this post on the topic. Rather than rehash what Mike Blankenship so eloquently said, I’ll sum it up for you below…

In brief, Mike says long paragraphs don’t work in digital. Instead, you need to follow some “new rules”:

  • New Rule #1: Write shorter paragraphs. Not always, mind you, as you’ll see in rule #2, but sometimes. Readers tend to scan what they see on a screen. Shorter paragraphs break up your copy and making scanning easier.
  • New Rule #2: Mix shorter paragraphs with longer ones. When you use all short paragraphs, your writing looks and reads staccato-like. When you use only long ones, you intimidate the reader with your lack of white space.
  • New Rule #3: Stay on topic but feel free to break up the topic. Remember in school when you were taught one topic per paragraph? The new rules say you can break a long paragraph into two or more shorter ones, even if they cover the same topic. However, each paragraph, no matter how short, still should be focused on just one topic!

This approach is probably not appropriate for longer pieces such as reports and proposals. It might even raise a few eyebrows if you used one-sentence paragraphs in documents like those! But these “new rules” offer a technique you could use in emails and chat to help people easily scan—and understand—your message. And make you a better writer too.

But we’ll delve into that another day…

Read the full post.

You might also like…
“Why Johnny Can’t Write…and How It’s Hurting Your Business.” Worth a read.

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