We like to say that it’s what’s on the inside that counts, but nobody can deny that appearances play a rather large role in grabbing people’s attention. The simple fact is that if something is eye-catching, we are going to be all the more interested to know what lies beneath the surface. This is why it’s crucial to know how to format a blog post as a writer.
You wouldn’t want a formless, featureless bae, would you? Similarly, the more interesting, eye-catching features your post has, and the more structured it is, the easier it will be to understand. This will encourage your fans to actually…read it. To your surprise, this happens far less often than you might realize.
You may think that writing is simply putting thoughts down on paper (or on a screen), but essentially, writing a blog post is content marketing – selling the info you’re writing about. Next to quality content, the most important part of your site is formatting it. Laying the content out in a way that grabs your readers’ attention is key to success. Plus, a well-formatted site makes search engines happy.
Confused about how to format a blog? Fear not – here is a step-by-step guide for taking your written post and formatting it the best way possible.
Step 1: Create Lists, Headings, and Subheadings
Why is it a good idea to break up your text?
How would you feel if you had to scale a 6-foot brick wall? Slightly intimidated? When it comes to knowing how to format a post, a giant essay of text is going to have the same effect, and chase away anyone who lands on the page.
Readers like to skim. While we wish that our readers are super dedicated and are going to devour every single word of the article, the chances are that they simply scroll down and stop only at things that sound useful or interesting.
How do you do that?
Solve this problem by breaking your post up into easily digestible chunks. Try to use a list. This can be a bulleted list, a numbered list, or any other way you’d like to do it.
The most important part of listing things is making sure that the reader’s eye is naturally drawn to the various items on the list. This can be achieved by using headings and subheadings to point to these items. A slightly larger, standalone bit of text works wonders for catching attention.
If your blog post is not quite the list type, then try to split it into smaller paragraphs and give each a short heading, almost as you would caption a picture.
Step 2: Watch Your Paragraph Length
Aim for shorter paragraphs
When it comes to writing, shorter is better every time. Readers skim, and it is infinitely harder to catch sight of an interesting snippet in a wall of text than it is when you have short, concise sentences and paragraphs. Remember that humans tend to have shorter attention spans now than they ever did years ago, and you don’t want someone losing track halfway through and deciding it’s not worth carrying on.
How to have better paragraphs
Stick to short paragraphs, and it will be up to you to decide exactly what “short” means. A typical blog post will be between 1000 and 2500 words, and according to some rather in-depth research on lengths of related things, the optimal length of paragraphs in your post should be three sentences.
That gives the reader enough space to read, think, and find some value in your post, without feeling rushed through sentence after sentence.
Step 3: Choose A Decent Font
Why is your font important?
The font you choose can make a major difference when it comes to keeping people on the page. Fonts generally come in two different types – serif (those with little extra lines on the ends of the letters), and sans serif (more plain and simple).
How do you choose the best font?
If you aren’t sure about this, it’s better to go with a san serif font, as it’s a little safer to gauge how your readers may feel towards it. Your text should not look cluttered, although there is more than just the little extra lines at play here. Different fonts also come with different spacing, both between words and between lines. There are different widths of the letters, and some are naturally bolder than others.
Take some time to check out a few different ones and choose something that works for you, and that would suit your target audience. Something slightly fancier may be appropriate for an embroidery site, while something plainer and bolder might be better for a bodybuilding blog.
Step 4: Emphasize The Important Bits of Text
As much as writers think that every word they type is important, there are naturally going to be some points in your post that need to be emphasized more than others. These could be statistics, important details, or just a sentence that you wish to get across to the reader slightly more forcefully.
Making use of bold text, italics and colored text is a simple and striking way of getting your point across. This is the equivalent of using a particular tone of voice when speaking. Make sure not to overdo this though; the whole point of using these text tools is for those particular phrases to stand out and if the whole paragraph is a mix and match of bold, italics, color, and different sizes, nothing will stand out. Don’t confuse the reader.
Step 5: Add Appropriate Images (or Video)
Humans are visual beings, so if you aren’t already making use of images in your posts then you’re behind! Pictures or short videos are a great way of breaking up waves of text, so when it comes to how to format a post, this is one of the easiest (and most fun) ways.
Firstly, make sure that it isn’t a stretch for the reader to understand how the picture relates to what they’re reading. An image that doesn’t make much sense is going to cause some confusion, and that’s not at all what we want.
You can make use of stock photos (free or paid), or take your own. This will most likely depend on the type of blog you have. If you’re writing about your adventures in Bali for your travel blog, it isn’t likely you will be searching for stock photography. You’ll be keen to get your own shots in there.
If you’re using your own, you will need to reduce the size for web use. This article shows the difference between the two types of image compression, lossy and lossless. Remember to pay attention to the image format. Here’s some more info on how to choose which would be most suitable.
Video is also rapidly increasing in popularity, but remember that if you decide to include a video, it should be short, and directly emphasize a point. If it isn’t related directly to what you’re writing about, it will only be a distraction.
Step 6: Add a Click-To-Tweet Type Plugin
What’s a Click-to-Tweet Plugin?
A Click To Tweet is like the text version of an image – a short, concise bit of info, that is designed to stand out and really get in your reader’s face. This is more of a direct way of emphasizing a particular quote or statistic and draws the eye the same way an image does.
But the bigger benefit of this is that it is literally designed for people to share on social media, and links back to your blog. A reader can simply re-tweet or repost with one click, and voila, a bit of your blog has been shared with their world. Opportunities for new readers increase, and interest grows. This a must-have content marketing tool.
How do you use it?
There are many apps or WordPress plugins that can be installed to perform this function. It does depend on which social media platform you would prefer your content to be shared on, although you can easily install something like Social Warfare which allows a reader to share it on any platform they choose.
It’s a good idea to install something more specific that you can integrate into your actual content, though, which is why Click To Tweet is a firm favorite. Instead of simply being a button at the bottom of your article, it is an eye-catching quote in the middle of your post, which is far more enticing for readers to share.
Step 7: Add Links
Links give your reader access to more information on the topic at hand, as well as give you more credibility. Readers will see you as an authority if you can link your content to other relevant stuff, as this gives the impression that you are well-researched and knowledgeable about what you’re actually talking about.
Whatever program you write in, there is an option to select a portion of text and embed a web address in there. If you aren’t sure about whatever program you use, Google it, and you’ll find an answer. Be careful what you link to though; you don’t want to send the reader to something pretty much the same as what they’ve just read. These are aimed to provide extra info – not repeat it.
The best practice is to link back to other posts on your own blog. This gives you a higher chance of keeping readers entertained and interested for longer periods of time on your own website, without them losing interest and wandering off.
Another great advantage of adding links to your blog post is that search engines tend to rank posts with more links higher than those with less. This is great for SEO, and if you aren’t quite sure what SEO is and why it’s important, check out this article.
Step 8: Get Your Spacing Right
Nothing quite puts someone off like looking through a web page on a cluttered screen. It’s all fine and well to go through this whole list and format your post using these tips, but if your page is cluttered, well, people aren’t going to take the time to wade through it.
What I mean by this is take some time to space everything out in a neat, visually appealing way. If the gaps between your paragraphs are uncomfortably small, change them. If the picture between two list items is off-center, put it somewhere that looks better to the eye.
Make sure you don’t have paragraphs of bold text, or too many different colors too close together. All of these things can cause your reader to feel crowded and run (or click) away.
Step 9: Check With Yoast
Yoast is perhaps the most used WordPress plugin tool, and for a good reason. It is primarily advertised as an SEO tool, but it does a wonderful job of giving you insight into your formatting, and what you should look at changing or improving in order to get the green light when it comes to formatting your blog post.
How do you use it?
Simply download the Yoast plugin. Use the free version if you’re a beginner. If you’re a pro and your blog is beginning to gain traction, go for the premium version. Once you start writing on WordPress, you’ll immediately see why Yoast is such a valuable tool – adjust accordingly, aim for that green light, and you can’t go wrong.
Step 10: Top It Off With A Catchy Heading
Let’s be honest – if your headline sucks, nobody (apart from your mom and bestie) is going to care to read any further. Your post title needs to be short and sweet, explain what the blog post is about, and get people excited about learning more.
A headline should be 11 words long in order to be most effective. Obviously, this does not mean that your 8-word headline is wrong, or your 14-word header is an overkill. This is just a guideline, but it does speak to the fact that you need to be able to summarize the topic of your article clearly in a very short space.
Remember to include your blog post’s keyword in the headline (Yoast will remind you). Depending on how you are most comfortable writing, you could add your headline at the very end, or you could start off with it and write around that. Either way, be sure to go back and assess whether or not it does accurately describe what you’ve written.
Do try to avoid “clickbait” type headlines though – these are overly dramatic lines crafted to cause a curious reaction and entice a click. An example of a clickbait type heading would be “He Forgot To Format His Blog – What Happened Next Will Have You Gasping In Shock.” Most of the time, the article has very little to do with the actual incident in the heading. Don’t be a click baiter. This is a common mistake when learning how to format a blog post!
Feeling more confident that you’ve formatted the perfect blog post?
These steps go for every single post that you write, so make sure to keep them in mind. You’ll soon find that it becomes a natural thing to format as you write, instead of afterward.
Now that you know how to format a blog, you can check out more posts here for more advice on how to make the most of your website. Start implementing them and taking actionable steps towards bringing in a steady stream of readers!