Format your writing for Readability

Divide things into small chunks

Nobody likes walls of text.

  • Split your post into sections, use headings to make them skimmable.
  • For very long posts, split your sections into subsections.
  • Split your paragraphs into smaller paragraphs.
  • Use bulleted lists when possible.

People are much happier to read a long thing if they can be tricked into thinking it’s a series of small things.

Small sections are easy to read, easy to remember, and finishing each one gives readers a satisfying sense of accomplishment.

Add variety

People get bored when they focus on the same thing for too long.

Break up the monotony - vary the sentence and paragraph lengths to create rhythm, use illustrations, diagrams, links, and quotes. Bold or italicize some words to simulate intonation.

Vary the tone and types of content: explain an abstract concept, give an interesting concrete example, discuss a case study, make a silly joke, use a metaphor, ask a question, address a counterargument, tell a story.

Make ideas flow into each other

The purpose of each sentence is to get people to read the next sentence. Use words like “and”, “so”, “therefore”, “for example”, “but”, “also” to connect the paragraphs and prompt people to continue reading. For example:

It’s pretty obvious that X is true, and we have lots of evidence for this: First, [A]. Second, [B]. Third, [C].

Now, some people say X, but that’s wrong. It only looks like X, because Y. And yet, we continue to Z_, for example R. So_, what you need is…

Read your post aloud

And remove everything that’s difficult to read, makes you stumble, or doesn’t sound like something you’d say in a conversation.

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