Tips for Blog Writing

Blog writing occupies a space between print writing and online writing. It draws on the principles of media writing, but refines those principles for a scanning audience.

This post offers writing tips to consider to make your posts more scannable and accessible for your audience.

Presentation

Online audiences rarely read an entire post from start to finish. Instead, they scan, looking for information that interests them or that they seek. Paragraphs, headings, and lists can help them in their quest.

Paragraphs

Keep paragraphs short. Even one sentence is fine.

Focus on one idea per paragraph. Start with known information and follow with new information.

Headings

Use headings to provide an overview of your post, organize your ideas, and break up long blocks of type.

Keep headings short. They can pose questions, use action phrases, or include description. Make the headings as parallel, or similar, as possible.

Avoid too much depth in headers — two levels, but no more than three. If you have more than three levels, consider that you might have multiple posts buried in one. Note that this post offers two levels of headers.

Lists

Lists organize series of information, like questions, ingredients, or steps. Keep lists short, with between 5-10 items each. Like headers, employ parallel structure for the list items. For steps, such as cooking instructions or how-to, add numbered lists.

Language

Language remains just as important as visual presentation in blog writing. Consider making your writing simple, personal, and clean.

Simple

Simple writing does not mean it lacks intelligence. Arguably, the opposite is true: Simpler writing makes communication accessible to more people, which is quite smart for blogging as communication.

Keep your sentences simple: one subject, one verb, one idea. Compound sentences — or two simple sentences joined by a word — also work, but use less frequently. Complex sentences show transitions between ideas, but limit that type to one or two per post. Avoid compound-complex sentences as much as possible.

Keep your words simple. Opt for short words over longer ones. Avoid slang, puns, jokes, and other “cute” writing. Move away from jargon whenever possible. Same with acronyms, unless they are clear to your audience.

Also take care to avoid racist language, such as using outdated words to describe entire groups, and gender bias, such as adding gender distinctions where none are needed. For example, add “postal carrier” instead of “postman” or “lawyer” instead of “lady lawyer.”

Personal

Addressing your audience is essential for building community, maintaining interest, and showing authenticity.

Use “you” once in a while to address your audience directly. Be careful not to overuse it at the expense of more concise and thoughtful writing, however.

Employ the command form when you want people to do something. The command form implies the “you” in the sentence. Instead of, “You should check out this new feature,” just write, “Check out this new feature.”

Also consider using “I,” “we,” “our,” and “us.” “I” suggests a more personal voice behind the blog, which also builds credibility and authenticity. “We,” “our” and “us” invite readers to identify with the writer and the content as well.

Clean

Clean writing is clear writing.

Cut extra words. Instead of adverbs, choose a stronger verb. Skip passive verbs in favor of active ones. Watch for redundant phrases, such as using “also” and “as well” in the same sentence. Delete repeated ideas.

Use simple verbs. Tend toward shorter verbs over long ones such as “buy” instead of “purchase” or “get” instead of “procure.” Avoid verbs that end in “-ize” and “-ate,” such as using “end” instead of “terminate.”

These are only a few tips to consider when writing your blog. What other tips do you recommend? Leave them in the comments below.

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