Format Your Posts For Readability

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FormattingAs bloggers, we write pages upon pages of content each week. We spend hours promoting the articles, choosing the right words and trying to get our point across as clearly as possible. How can formatting be used to further improve our posts?

There are a few basic tools that you will have heard mention of time and time again, such as bolding words. The first section re-explains their purpose, and the second will explain how to perfect your usage of them to achieve optimal formatting.

The Formatting Toolbox

  • Headings and subheadings. Posts usually cover 2 or 3 sub-topics of the overall post topic. If you don’t use headings to mark out the sub-topics, then the reader has no way of knowing exactly which topics have been covered in the article. What if they’re only interested in the last section? Mark out the last section with a good header, and they’ll know to read it.

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New Window for a New Link?

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Freedom
Freedom Tunnel by Pro-Zak.
When we link out to another site, it can be hard not to consider the readers you may have just sent away. In an attempt to lessen the likelihood of losing the reader, many people force links to open in a new window, but is this really the best solution?

The Reasons For

  • Your page stays open. This is undoubtedly the main reason for it. The link is loaded in a new window. When the user has finished with it, and closes the window, they’ll find your page still sitting there.
  • Some links are intended to be used as references. For instance, if I were writing an article about nuclear power, I might reference my source like this: nuclear energy is a heavily debated topic (Eco Warrior)… The link will open in a new window/tab, allowing the user to check my reference, and then continue reading the article.

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Categories Are More Than Just a List

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The purpose of categorising posts is to organise your content. You group similar posts into sections, allowing readers to easily find all the posts on a certain topic. However, categories are more than just a list in the sidebar.

How Are Categories Ordered in a New Blog?

When a blog is new, naturally it will have fewer posts. Therefore, posts are grouped into rather broad categories. For instance; this post is currently categorised into the “Blog Usability,” category. Usability in itself is a huge topic, encompassing many sub-sections. As the blog is still new though, there is no need to break into these sub-sections.

Small blogs have a small number of categories.

As Your Blog Grows, Your Categories Grow

Over time, you post more and more, and the blog becomes larger and larger. However, because your blog is virtual, viewable only on a screen, you don’t see that.

Forget about the computer, and think about each post as a written document, and your blog as a filing cabinet. In the beginning, it may be suitable for you to use a separate drawer for each category, however, each page you add is filling up the cabinet. What do you do when there are so many pages that finding a certain one takes forever? You divide up the drawer. You take all of the pages in that drawer, and categories those, e.g. by name, by date or by topic.

Why should blogs be any different?

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Make it a Date

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Blogging Dates Being a dating blogger isn’t easy. Sure, you can turn a lot of eyes, and it’s true that no-one looks better than you in your flashy widget-ready theme, but that on it’s own just isn’t enough. You need to be able to pull-off the first date as well!

There Has to Actually Be a Date

How can you court your reader without having a date in the first place? It is hard to realise when you are writing your post, but ask yourself, will this information still be relevant and useful in a year from now? Two years? Three? A large number of blog posts simply aren’t timeless, not because they were poorly written, but because of the nature of the topic. The posts age, and their value ages with them. If your topic falls under this blanket, then readers will want to know how fresh every post is.

Another reason is that blogging, more than any other type of website, is expected to be transparent. At the very least, you are expected to show the date. Blogging itself is a time-focused process, with posts ordered chronologically. Readers will expect to see the date, and denying them this simple courtesy will do you no favours.

Prepare For the Date Accordingly

Now that you’ve agreed to go on the date, you need to get dressed up. I’m afraid that your default “ This entry was posted on Monday, August 7th, 2007 at 11:22 am and is filed under…” suit just won’t cut it. The important thing to remember about dating pages online is that different customs around the world mean that different people may read the same thing differently.

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