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Breaking Up Long Paragraphs with Photos or Bulleted Text

Web readers actually read less than 20% of what is on any given webpage, skipping blithely past any large blocks of text unless the first few words grab their attention and slow them down. You have a very small window of opportunity in which to grab your potential client’s attention therefore you must use that time to your advantage. Long blocks of text will almost ensure your loss of a percentage of your readers, and remember—search engines don’t care how the words are delivered. In other words, search engines are just fine with short paragraphs interspersed with photos and bullet points. Sometimes breaking up your text to fit web reader’s needs is known as “chunking.” When you chunk your content into small paragraphs you are helping your visitors quickly scan and find the information they are looking for.

 What Does a Well-Written Paragraph Consist Of?

Remembering that your users will scan the first sentence or two on the page, the headings and subheadings, the image captions and the first and second words in short paragraphs, you must strive to have only one main point in each paragraph. Further, you must lead with that main point, and try to keep your paragraphs down to a hundred words or less. What many writers don’t fully realize is that what they see as they type on their computer screen will not look the same as it will once it is condensed into a narrow column. A paragraph which looked fairly short on the computer screen may appear long and boring once it is converted onto your website.

How Chunking Works

Each paragraph section must come with a bold heading which clearly describes the content of the paragraph then the lead sentence should reiterate that message. If you feel yourself wandering in a different direction, it’s time to begin a new paragraph. Next to the first sentence in each paragraph, the last sentence is next in importance. Many people read the first and last sentence of each paragraph, skipping over what came in between. Keep your sentences short as well—sentences which average fifteen or more words should be split into simpler sentences.

 Adding Bulleted Content or Photos

Bulleted lists are very easy to scan and comprehend, so breaking up walls of text into bullet points allows your readers to get the gist of the content quickly and easily. Even better, keep your bulleted text short and sweet, and try to stay at seven bulleted points or fewer in each list. If you have more than this your reader may lose focus. Don’t forget to use numbered lists when appropriate as a change from bulleted lists. If you want your readers to read content in a specific order or are walking them through certain steps, then numbered lists may be applicable. In the same way a bulleted or numbered list can break up your text and make it easier for your reader to get the information they came for, breaking up text paragraphs with an occasional photo can also be effective—so long as that photo relates to the text.

What to Do With Longer Content

Sometimes in the legal field there is just no way to get the necessary information across without longer amounts of content. If you find yourself in this position try adding a “read more” at the end of a relatively short couple of paragraphs. This way if your users have sufficient interest in reading more on the subject they can go to a separate page where you will elaborate in much greater depth. You can also break longer documents into several interlinked page, ensuring there is a single theme, purpose or message on each page. While the pages as a whole will tell a complete story, you are giving your reader the option of choosing the parts which apply to their own life or their own problem. Keep your content in short, snappy paragraphs broken up by appropriate photos and bulleted text and you will keep your readers coming back for more.

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