Reading and writing online is different than reading and writing a paper. The format is different, the audience is different, and the objectives are different.
Writing a paper for school, for example, may require you to follow certain guidelines (like MLA, or APA), but writing for online is different. And you may not be aware of the guidelines.
Here are some helpful tips when reading, and writing, for online publication.
Paragraphs are King
The shorter paragraphs are, the better. Move away from 5-7 sentences, and write shorter paragraphs that are more concise. Focus on clarity and quality over quantity. Reading shorter paragraphs is also easier on the eyes.
TLDR: Write shorter paragraphs.
Fonts Make it Happen
When you’re writing online, and you’re using a medium that you can control (your website, blog, or otherwise) be sure to use a font that’s easy on the eyes. Reading on a screen is different than reading a paper that’s set in Times New Roman size 12.
A sans-serif font like Verdana is much easier to read on-screen than a serif font like Times New Roman. Size matters, too, so make sure the text is large enough to read comfortably. Check out Google’s Font Library for the good stuff.
TLDR: Use sans-serif fonts if you can.
Headlines Drive Traffic
Writing on your own blog? Want people to read it? Then you’ll need to craft better headlines. Spend time doing it, too. A well-crafted headline is what causes articles and content to go viral. Your efforts here will pay off. Just make sure your server / host can manage the traffic.
TLDR: Write better headlines.
Make it Mobile
Most readers today use a mobile device to read content online. Make sure you cater to them. Shorter sentences. Shorter paragraphs. Better fonts. Mobile layouts. Easy navigation. Break points. Accessible menus. It’s important – design for mobile first. Tools like WordPress make this easy.
TLDR: People use their phones to consume your writing. Make them happy.
Writing and publishing (and subsequently reading) online is different. Keep that in mind when you produce. White space is important. Fonts are important. Quality over quantity. Practice these skills, and you’ll make a great writer (and reader) in this new(er) medium. The era of 5-7 sentences per paragraph is over. Oh, and learn to write catchy headlines, too!
TLDR: Creating for online is different.