Home / The Latest New In Home-Based Business / How to Write Short Sentences and Paragraphs the Right Way (and Why It Matters)

How to Write Short Sentences and Paragraphs the Right Way (and Why It Matters)

The post How to Write Short Sentences and Paragraphs the Right Way (and Why It Matters) appeared first on ProBlogger.

How to write short sentences and paragraphs (and why it matters)

This is a post by ProBlogger writing expert Ali Luke

If you’ve been blogging for a while, I’m sure you’ve come across the advice to write short sentences and paragraphs.

There are good reasons for this. And it has nothing to do with “dumbing down” the language or short attention spans (though they can certainly be a factor).

For decades researchers have known we don’t read on a computer screen the same way we read on a printed page. It’s more tiring to read on a screen, and “white space” (the blank, empty space on a page) is important for helping readers take in what they’re reading.

And in the past decade reading blogs on mobile devices has taken off. A lot of your readers will be reading on a five- or six-inch screen, and if your post is on a complex topic this can really slow them down. Using short, clear sentences and paragraphs can help.

How to Split Up Long Paragraphs

My personal rule of thumb is to split any paragraphs that take up more than three lines in the Word document or Google doc where I’m drafting. You might feel differently.

Here’s an example of a particularly long paragraph (adapted from my post How Long Should Your Blog Post Be?):

The next key consideration is whether your readers would prefer shorter or longer posts. If you already have a reasonable number of readers, you could survey them to find out. You could also take a look at your most popular posts in Google Analytics, or the posts that get the most comments or shares. Does short or long content seem to resonate better with your audience? You might potentially find that your readers like a mix of posts. Maybe they want fairly short and to-the-point posts most of the time, with a much longer piece of content occasionally thrown in.

In the original, that content is split into two paragraphs:

The next key consideration is whether your readers would prefer shorter or longer posts. If you already have a reasonable number of readers, you could survey them to find out. You could also take a look at your most popular posts in Google Analytics, or the posts that get the most comments or shares. Does short or long content seem to resonate better with your audience?

You might potentially find that your readers like a mix of posts. Maybe they want fairly short and to-the-point posts most of the time, with a much longer piece of content occasionally thrown in.

But if you wanted to you could split it even further. For instance, you might decide to turn the first sentence into its own short paragraph to help readers who are scanning or skimming:

The next key consideration is whether your readers would prefer shorter or longer posts.

If you already have a reasonable number of readers, you could survey them to find out. You could also take a look at your most popular posts in Google Analytics, or the posts that get the most comments or shares. Does short or long content seem to resonate better with your audience?

You might potentially find that your readers like a mix of posts. Maybe they want fairly short and to-the-point posts most of the time, with a much longer piece of content occasionally thrown in.

Can You Go Too Far With Short Paragraphs?

Although some blogs use very short paragraphs habitually, I think you can go too far with this. I wouldn’t put each sentence as its own paragraph. The text would end up looking choppy, making it harder for the reader to get a sense of the flow of ideas.

Here’s an example of what your text might look like if you went too far:

The next key consideration is whether your readers would prefer shorter or longer posts.

If you already have a reasonable number of readers, you could survey them to find out.

You could also take a look at your most popular posts in Google Analytics, or the posts that get the most comments or shares.

Does short or long content seem to resonate better with your audience?

You might potentially find that your readers like a mix of posts.

Maybe they want fairly short and to-the-point posts most of the time, with a much longer piece of content occasionally thrown in.

When Might You Not Split a Long-ish Paragraph?

Sometimes you’ll have a slightly longer-than-usual paragraph that you don’t want to split. There are a couple of key cases where this might happen:

  • When you’ve created a list of bullet points. While you can have multiple paragraphs within one bullet, it may look a bit odd. (If you have a lot of content for each point, I’d find a different way to display the list.)
  • When you’re using single paragraphs for the “tip” or “example” sections of a post. For instance, in my post Seven Sure-Fire Ways to Annoy a Blog Editor (and What to Do Instead) I wanted each “Instead” section to be a single paragraph (even though that meant some of them were a little longer than I’d normally go for).

How to Write Short Sentences

When you were at school, you were probably taught that a sentence needs to contain a subject and a verb. These are all complete sentences:

He ran.

She ran around the park.

After warming up, he ran around the park and down the road, before jogging over the bridge.

But when it comes to blogging you can use sentence fragments so long as they still read smoothly. This can add a sense of pace to your writing.

For instance:

After warming up, he ran around the park. Down the road. Over the bridge.

We know what “down the road” refers to where he ran. It’s not technically a sentence (it’s a sentence fragment), but it works fine for a blog post.

Now let’s look at what you can’t do when splitting up that sentence. You can’t take off the first clause (“after warming up”) and turn it into its own sentence:

After warming up. He ran around the park.

If you’re going to use sentence fragments, they need to make sense before the reader reads the next few words. “After warming up” doesn’t work on its own.

If you’re not sure about a particular short sentence, try reading that part of your post out loud. It can help you decide whether or not it’s working.

Here are a couple of examples of short sentences in action. See what you think of the sentences. Are they working for you? Would you read the rest of the piece?

Example #1:

Example of sentence fragments from Copyblogger.

(From 5 Timeless Ways to Earn Your Audience’s Time and Attention, Sonia Simone, Copyblogger)

Example #2:

Example of sentence fragments from The Write Life

(From Hey, Freelancers: This New Tool Could Make Your LIfe a Lot Easier, Jamie Cattanach, The Write Life)

If You’re Struggling to Write Good Short Sentences

You might find it tricky to work with sentence fragments. Perhaps English isn’t your native language, or you find it hard to “hear” whether your writing sounds right.

That’s fine. You don’t have to use sentence fragments at all. Just look out for any long or complicated sentences and try to simplify them.

The Hemingway Editor is a useful tool here. It will highlight long sentences so you can try splitting them up. (But occasional long sentences are fine, so don’t feel pressured to follow the app’s suggestions every time.)

Demo of the Hemingway editor

Ultimately, the great thing about having your own blog is that it’s your blog!

If you want to develop a punchy, hard-hitting style with lots of short sharp sentences, you can. If you want a chatty, conversational style with short simple paragraphs, go for it. If you want to write in a more thoughtful, detailed way, that’s fine too. Just keep in mind that you might want to break up your paragraphs a little more than if you were writing a book.

You don’t need to get it right in your first draft, either. Write your post however you like, then tweak the sentence and paragraph lengths when you edit it.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. Do short sentences and paragraphs work for you? Do you feel it’s possible to go too far? Share your ideas and tips in the comments.

Image credit: Victor Garcia

The post How to Write Short Sentences and Paragraphs the Right Way (and Why It Matters) appeared first on ProBlogger.

      

Click Here For Original Source Of The Article

Ads by WOW Trk

Check Also

How to Make a Full-Time Income From Your Blog

The post How to Make a Full-Time Income From Your Blog appeared first on ProBlogger.

This post is based on episode 48 of the ProBlogger podcast. While there are no guarantees, earning a full-time income from your blog can be a realistic goal provided you’re willing to: get specific about your money goals be patient and consistent break the work down into achievable chunks. I’m going ...more

The post How to Make a Full-Time Income From Your Blog appeared first on ProBlogger.

      

css.php