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Facts and Figures in Online Articles Don't Have to Be Boring - Lay Them Out With Style

Dennis Francis

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Some of the toughest material I had to write was for a client who needed a book on economic models made easy. The problem of course is that economic models are not simple. The other major stumbling block was that this material was going to be displayed on the web as an ebook and in article series form.

My client who will remain anonymous was very intellectual and took it for granted that the material was exciting and could translate into an online article. I couldn't tell him that this was drier that the Gobi Dessert and I like getting paid. There had to be an answer to presenting complex material in an easy to read and easy to understand format on the screen.

We settled on a dialog format that was close to an interview style. This allowed me to pose questions and the professor to answer in his conversational style. We went with a recorded session and my transcriber went to work. The material was still dense, so I began to take it apart.

When writing articles for the web, you need to keep a few things in mind for the best viewing experience for your reader. Follow these tips for easier handling of complex materials:

Make the word count for the online version of a given topic about half the word count you would use when writing for print: Users find it hard to read a lot of text on screens, and they read about 25 percent more slowly from screens than from paper.

Keep your sentence structure simple and avoid complex vocabulary. If you are writing for a specific audience, you can speak in their language (vocabulary, style, or level of complexity) as long as they are comfortable with the material.

Remember that reading on a screen is still not ideal for most people. Screen readers prefer to scan online articles. Seventy-nine percent of Web users scan pages; they do not read word-by-word. Design your web document to be scann-able: To make keywords stand out, use highlighting liberally: Highlight about three times as many words as you would when writing for print.

Keep your article blocks no longer than six paragraphs. The ideal is four paragraphs but this also depends on the size of the type and the white space around the copy. If you have artwork in the page, take the time to add white space around your picture. This will allow the white space to flow evenly around any illustration or chart you may have.

Use Bulleted and numbered lists to slow down the eye and draw attention to important points. This technique will allow the reader to quickly identify the points you are about to express and slow down. They can also pick and choose their interests in your online article.

You should break your paragraphs into clear concepts.

This will allow your readers to scan for the information they are looking for more easily. Each paragraph should contain one main idea; use a second paragraph for a second idea, since users tend to skip any second point as they scan over the paragraph.

Format your complex information in lists:

  • People identify concepts when the material is presented in components.
  • Lists aid in memorization.
  • They are set apart from the rest of the word blocks
  • You can use a bigger number of lists on a web page than you can on a printed paper page.
  • Use numbered lists when the order of entries is important.
  • Use unnumbered lists whenever the sequence of the entries is not important.
  • Limit the number of items in a single list to no more than nine.
  • Generally, limit lists to no more than two levels: primary and secondary.

Make sure that your article is keyword optimized and that your title contains one of the main keywords in your online article. This will help in your search engine rankings. The best thing to do when creating technical content for the web is to leave a good amount of white space, keep your paragraphs short and use bullets; lots of bullets.

Dennis Morales Francis is a small business coach and the author of “Double My Revenues In 12 Months or Less" and “Push Button Profits! A 30 Day Program For Making $120,000 A Year On Auto Pilot" Head over to the site sign up for your free course now before it's too late! =>


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