As ideal as it is for a reader to experience your entire message, the reality is that we all scan content.

People searching for information about a problem, or trying to find a solution, typically move through blog posts and other formats quickly.

Scannability is, therefore, important to hold attention and create influence with your message.

A Forbes article has stated that the most overlooked factor of content marketing is “Scannable Content”.

And as the main image states, in a study sponsored by Sun Microsystems, Jakob Nielsen found that by re-writing content for the web, Sun could improve measured usability by 124% – 159% when taking into account that 79% of users scan web pages instead of reading word for word.

The following is a look at several simple ways to make scannable content for your audience.

Create Sections and Subheadings

A key and simple approach to making content scannable is an effective use of sections and subheadings.

Break up your longer article into at least three to five key points or sections when possible.

Build copy that aligns with the section header so that a reader can easily scan and find information on a specific point that is interesting.

If you can hook a reader into a section, he may not only get some valuable information, but he may also decide to continue reading.
nielsen scannable content quote

Use Plenty of White Space

Don’t feel like you have to cram as many words onto the screen as possible.

In fact, adequate white space is essential to helping a person’s eyeballs focus on the copy and images on the computer, tablet or smartphone screen.

Breaks between headers and section content, between paragraphs, and before and after images generate white space.

Keep Everything Short

Create concise posts and use short sentences, short paragraphs and even short words.

Crisp, concise content flows more efficiently and allows a reader to transition from one item to the next.

Visually, it appears less intimidating and projects a quick experience to a reader. You also don’t want the reader to have to pull out a dictionary to interpret your message.

Provide Lists and Bullet Points

Straight-line copy from beginning to end is challenging as well.

Create lists or bullet points when presenting a series of key points.

Here are a few benefits of doing so:

  • Generate white space
  • Break up straight-line copy
  • Highlights key facts, stats or data
  • Use one main idea per section
  • Write the way people speak

Limit Your Ideas to One Per Paragraph

See what I did there?

Incorporate Visual Features

Visual images and video content have become powerful forces in content marketing.

They not only amplify copy, but images and other visual items help break up the copy as well.

Plus, a compelling image or infographic can capture a scanner’s attention much more quickly than a sentence or paragraph of words.

Woman working on a tablet

Highlight Key Words and Sentences with Bold

To emphasise critical words, phrases or sentences within your content, apply boldface.

Bold words stand out in contrast to regular text as a reader scans.

Effective attention on intriguing statements can capture the reader’s interest for a longer read.

Wrap Up

It may seem like you have a lot of work to do to make content scannable.

However, applying some of these simple yet important methods will significantly boost your content results.

Your readers want content that is relevant and easy to digest.

When you apply these strategies consistently, they also become a habit in your content creation.

Scannable content that is useful and enjoyable to read should be your priority when writing for your target audience.

 


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