10 Variables of Article Readability

by Wayne Liew

in Internet Business

Do you remember 10 Reasons You Are Not Getting Comments? One of the points in there will be your posts are just lousy. I have a habit of bloghopping around and I find that sometimes, it is not that a blog has low quality articles, it is just that the presentation of the articles that is causing the problems.

Writing Article

I would like to share with you the 10 Variables of Article Readability with this post. The reason I call them variables is that you will need to manage the amount to get the best of it. Excessive and non-existence usage will cause problems for you.

  • Paragraphing
    Paragraphs are must have elements for an article. Article which don’t have proper paragraphing will make the article seems boring and your readers will be so tired reading it.

    I have seen people using one line paragraphs and paragraphs that might reach 20 lines long. A set of similar points should be grouped into one paragraph and another paragraph should mark the start of another thinking point. Equal paragraph lengths will also be very important since your readers will not have a sudden surge or inconsistent information absorption because of the irregularities in paragraphs’ length.

    The rule of thumb in paragraphing which is recommended by me will be try to write a paragraph not more than 7-8 lines. The amount of words with this length will be sufficient (will not be shallow or overloaded with information) and most of the time, the length will be performing well no matter the screen or font size.

  • Sub-Headers

    Headings

    I like to use sub-headers such as this post of mine. A bolded text or a line of text with different styling which will make the line stands out is good for an article to make a reader understands what you are trying to bring up at one glance. This will benefit those who don’t have enough time for blog reading and also, this technique might turn a first time visitor into a frequently returning reader because you showed your substance with these headings.

    You must also be aware that having too much sub-headers but little contents beneath it will make your article looks shallow.

  • Italics and Bolds
    Italic and bold in our blog post editor are often used to emphasis on certain keywords in our articles. Using these words will make clear to readers what are the important items that will need their attention.

    Highlighter highlighting words

    Occasional usage of bold and italic words can be useful but if you had used it on most part of your article, why not bolding the whole article or paragraph? It is like coloring (not drawing) an article with a highlighter if you are bolding things here and there!

  • Colors
    Some people are deep in love with colors and they went crazy in using it. They might use a different color for each paragraph. Yes, your site might look lively but do you know that too many colors used will actually chase people away from your blog? Did you came across newspapers with different colors for words in their articles?

    Colored Text

    Black text with a white background is still the top choice if you want to present an article with a high level of readability. Check out article databases like Ezinearticles. There are tonnes of words and what color did they used for the text?

  • Links
    Links within an article can do more than linking all the relevant information on the Internet to your article. A link will always have a different color than your plain text. A link has been said that it is an enhancement to a post as plain post with just black and white.

    Adding links with colors matching to the theme you used for your site and spreading them in an appropriate amount over your post will add some interactivity for your readers. Also, you might be giving out links to external sources and internal articles which has proved to be useful in link and traffic building.

  • Inline Text Ads

    Kontera Ad Bubble

    Remember Kontera as a money maker? Do you know other services like AdBrite and Clicksor? They all provide inline text ads which you will have ad bubbles popping out from keywords that are highlighted by them in your post. Although many claimed that this will deteriorates the quality of an article but I do see the benefit side of it.

    If used properly by controlling the amount of keywords highlighted, adding codes on places you forbid and allow the ads to be shown and of course, changing the color of the ad links will deny the ads from decreasing your readability and will make you money at the same time!

  • Images
    Adding relevant images to your articles will give your readers a break after reading a large amount of text. A change of colors in your post with images will allow their eyes to relax a little. Using an image might also be a great way to replace explanations that might take 500 words to complete!

    Despite the fact that images are good, don’t fill your blog up with lots of images unless you are having a photoblog or you are a personal blogger who loves photo-shooting.

  • Text Font Size

    Small font size

    Will you go for a small font size or a large one like what Problogger is using? Big fonts will make your post looks long which requires a lot of scrolling but small fonts will make your readers focus with a little bit more effort in focusing their vision to read what you are writing about.

  • Bullets
    Bulleted items in a list within a post is a very good method of summarizing all the points which you would like to show. Although it is good, I do see a lot of people ‘abusing’ it by using it the wrong way.

    If your bulleted points are in a paragraph form, you might like to space up the paragraphs or adding a sub-heading to a point so that the points will not seen to be chunked together. If you are writing a list with one line points, I will recommend you to chunk it all together since separating them will make your post looks hollow with nothing much to be offered.

  • Fluid and Fixed Themes
    The last thing here will be something that has nothing to do with your writings but it will have an significant impact on it. If you have a fluid theme and you are having a monitor which has low screen resolution, the lines of text might seems great for you but what if your readers are having high resolutions? Your articles might be full of one or two liners to them.

    Read more of it at Fixed vs Fluid Website Layouts and do you see why this affects your post readability?

Implementing the Variables Smartly

Screen Resolution Graph

I am not the jack of all blogs and I should say every blogs differs in a way. You might be getting a lot of readers that don’t read Wayne Liew Dot Com. I do advise you not to view your stats frequently but use it wisely to monitor things like what are the screen resolutions your readers use and what are the significant variables that have an impact on reader responses.

Have you tried out writing your articles with some of the tips above? Do you have any impact with the tips? Do you have any other secret tips to be added onto what I have write about above?

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{ 20 comments }

kljs November 27, 2007 at 6:09 pm

Yeah…. I learn using sub headers from Wayne! This article is very useful for people who don’t present their blog posts very well!

kljs November 28, 2007 at 2:09 am

Yeah…. I learn using sub headers from Wayne! This article is very useful for people who don’t present their blog posts very well!

goldfries November 28, 2007 at 1:08 am

Actually article presentation is no different from how one formats a MS-Office document. :)

Wayne, one thing I can tell you is that if you can present your blog well then you’ll have no problem presenting your documents in college. :D

Wayne, your title says 10 Variables of Article Readability BUT there’s no numbering on your 10 variables. :) If you have 10 points, might as well have it numbered, right?

I would like to introduce you to ORDERED links.

If you notice your Wordpress WRITE POST visual editor interface, there is a button there for you to use ORDERED links. (5th button from your left, 1st button being BOLD)

If you’re using code editor – just change the UL that’s holding it into OL. UL means un-ordered links while OL means ordered links. :) You can even style it in roman, numeric, or whatever. Same goes to your bullet types.

Another thing I think that you should add to your 10 (making it 11) would be the choice of FONT FAMILY. It’s amazing how mix n matching fonts could help out in presentation.

Speaking of space in between paragraphs, you could also adjust the space between lines. :)

Pardon my lengthy input. :D I hope you like them though.

goldfries November 28, 2007 at 9:08 am

Actually article presentation is no different from how one formats a MS-Office document. :)

Wayne, one thing I can tell you is that if you can present your blog well then you’ll have no problem presenting your documents in college. :D

Wayne, your title says 10 Variables of Article Readability BUT there’s no numbering on your 10 variables. :) If you have 10 points, might as well have it numbered, right?

I would like to introduce you to ORDERED links.

If you notice your Wordpress WRITE POST visual editor interface, there is a button there for you to use ORDERED links. (5th button from your left, 1st button being BOLD)

If you’re using code editor – just change the UL that’s holding it into OL. UL means un-ordered links while OL means ordered links. :) You can even style it in roman, numeric, or whatever. Same goes to your bullet types.

Another thing I think that you should add to your 10 (making it 11) would be the choice of FONT FAMILY. It’s amazing how mix n matching fonts could help out in presentation.

Speaking of space in between paragraphs, you could also adjust the space between lines. :)

Pardon my lengthy input. :D I hope you like them though.

Mister Thorne November 28, 2007 at 2:56 pm

RE: Paragraphs are must have elements for an article. Article which don’t have proper paragraphing will make the article seems boring and your readers will be so tired reading it.

Articles should also be well written, don’t you agree? Now, take a look at how this article begins. Is that well written?

How many people might read this article, but then — after reading just the intro — decide it’s probably not a good investment of time?

I’m one.

Yes, appearance is important. But so is substance and presentation and style.

keeyit November 28, 2007 at 8:24 am

Good practises for me.. :razz:

keeyit November 28, 2007 at 4:24 pm

Good practises for me.. :razz:

Wayne Liew November 28, 2007 at 12:22 pm

@ kljs
I am glad that you’ve learned something.

@ goldfries
I love contributing input like yours.

Yes, I am not using numbered paragraphs because I am working on the CSS code for it. If you look at my article properly, you might noticed that there is some errors which has caused the bulleted paragraphs used not to space out well.

I agree that font switching and styling can help in article formatting but it is more towards psychology which I am still researching. :wink:

@ keeyit
Thanks.

Wayne Liew November 28, 2007 at 8:22 pm

@ kljs
I am glad that you’ve learned something.

@ goldfries
I love contributing input like yours.

Yes, I am not using numbered paragraphs because I am working on the CSS code for it. If you look at my article properly, you might noticed that there is some errors which has caused the bulleted paragraphs used not to space out well.

I agree that font switching and styling can help in article formatting but it is more towards psychology which I am still researching. :wink:

@ keeyit
Thanks.

goldfries November 28, 2007 at 1:38 pm

:D

Well I always love to contribute. If you notice my post in your blog, I don’t spam stuff like “I love your article” or “Yeah great work”.

It doesn’t add to the article. If I post something, I make it a point that it MUST contribute. :)

Anyhoo, I wasn’t referring to your paragraphs but your sub-headers. I examined your HTML code and it doesn’t need CSS to change it from a bullet to numeric. :) Just change the code from UL to OL.

As for the fonts, common fonts are generally readable. One could decide fonts based on the design they’re using.

goldfries November 28, 2007 at 9:38 pm

:D

Well I always love to contribute. If you notice my post in your blog, I don’t spam stuff like “I love your article” or “Yeah great work”.

It doesn’t add to the article. If I post something, I make it a point that it MUST contribute. :)

Anyhoo, I wasn’t referring to your paragraphs but your sub-headers. I examined your HTML code and it doesn’t need CSS to change it from a bullet to numeric. :) Just change the code from UL to OL.

As for the fonts, common fonts are generally readable. One could decide fonts based on the design they’re using.

Mister Thorne November 28, 2007 at 10:56 pm

RE: Paragraphs are must have elements for an article. Article which don’t have proper paragraphing will make the article seems boring and your readers will be so tired reading it.

Articles should also be well written, don’t you agree? Now, take a look at how this article begins. Is that well written?

How many people might read this article, but then — after reading just the intro — decide it’s probably not a good investment of time?

I’m one.

Yes, appearance is important. But so is substance and presentation and style.

Wayne Liew November 29, 2007 at 12:39 pm

@ goldfries
I used to use it but my articles don’t appear in the way I want it to. I will try it out in my upcoming articles.

@ Mister Thorne
I have to admit that the opening of this article is not good since it was aimed at my existing readers.

Thanks for the input. I will try to improve my post quality all the time. If you look into my Archives or Popular Posts by the sidebar, you may find something that pleased you. :wink:

Wayne Liew November 29, 2007 at 8:39 pm

@ goldfries
I used to use it but my articles don’t appear in the way I want it to. I will try it out in my upcoming articles.

@ Mister Thorne
I have to admit that the opening of this article is not good since it was aimed at my existing readers.

Thanks for the input. I will try to improve my post quality all the time. If you look into my Archives or Popular Posts by the sidebar, you may find something that pleased you. :wink:

Patrick Burt November 29, 2007 at 2:02 pm

Hi Wayne,

Great blog and great article. I appreciate the ping. :) (PS, your articles do have great readability). One thing worth noting also is the leading (or line height) which is the distance between lines. Bigger line heights ease readability.

Patrick Burt November 29, 2007 at 10:02 pm

Hi Wayne,

Great blog and great article. I appreciate the ping. :) (PS, your articles do have great readability). One thing worth noting also is the leading (or line height) which is the distance between lines. Bigger line heights ease readability.

Wayne Liew November 30, 2007 at 12:47 pm

You are welcome.

Good point there. I do see the reason why Problogger is using a somehow wide line spacing in the articles.

Thanks. :wink:

Wayne Liew November 30, 2007 at 8:47 pm

You are welcome.

Good point there. I do see the reason why Problogger is using a somehow wide line spacing in the articles.

Thanks. :wink:

Jalaj December 5, 2007 at 12:53 pm

Monitor resolution is an important factor while finalizing your design. If your design fails at lower resolution you miss some of your important readers.

A few years back I received complaints from a few readers that the menu buttons in the side frames were not fully visible on their 640×480 monitor. So while they were at fault by using a 640×480 resolution when no one was using it, I was guilty of using frames!!

Jalaj December 5, 2007 at 8:53 pm

Monitor resolution is an important factor while finalizing your design. If your design fails at lower resolution you miss some of your important readers.

A few years back I received complaints from a few readers that the menu buttons in the side frames were not fully visible on their 640×480 monitor. So while they were at fault by using a 640×480 resolution when no one was using it, I was guilty of using frames!!

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