Writing for Web Skimmers

When you read articles about being a web writer they all really focus on one key point: skimmers.

People reading online are skimmers, not really sitting down to focus on a good book, they just want a quick read and expect to pick up the facts right away. It’s a shame. It isn’t a good way to read, even though I am a culprit of skim reading myself. I know I sometimes miss things. Sometimes important things. As a writer keep this in mind so your skimming readers won’t miss important things.

Consider these points to format your writing for skimmers:

  • Post your conclusion first. Your conclusion comes at the top and the rest of your information follows to support your conclusion with facts, ideas and resources. If the skimmers only read the first sentence you write then at least they got your main point.
  • Keep your writing simple and clear. Take out extra words, keep it short and to the point.
  • Subheadings direct the skim reader, like pylons at a construction site, especially for longer bodies of content.
  • Keep each paragraph on one topic. If you start another idea add whitespace in the form of a new paragraph. (Each beginning sentence of each new paragraph should be an inverted pyramid too, put your main point first. The rest of the paragraph supports it, if needed.)
  • Use bullet form lists to catch more skimmer attention. Their eyes flock to lists as they are specific points of information. They are also easy to find in your writing copy.
  • Add your links as part of the writing copy, as if they are just part of the conversation, to be clicked if the skim reader chooses to.
  • Proofread your copy, for any kind of writing. But, with skim readers, a typo can be a bigger stumbling block, more like a pot hole which makes them stutter in their reading and doubt you as a reliable source of information. Use spellcheck and read it yourself cause you still know more than the machine.

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