While there are many keys to writing effective articles, following an engaging writing style and good choice of topic, there is none as important as your formatting – that is, how you present that engaging tone and worthy topic. From the keen use of imagery to using appropriate sentence and paragraph structure, how you format your articles will go a long way towards determining just how readable they are.
Whether you’re a seasoned writer looking for a few good tips, or a total newbie trying to figure out how to present your content in the best possible way, use this article formatting cheat sheet every single time you publish:
1. Don’t Plagiarize!
In an age where just about every combination of words possible has been published at least twice, it can seem difficult to strike a unique tone concerning a topic that’s been done and done again, but that never, ever gives you the right to infringe on someone’s copyrighted work, even unintentionally. Besides helping you to avoid lawsuits, you can ensure that your content is worth reading simply by ensuring that your words are your own.
While this obviously covers blatant copying and pasting of written content belonging to another writer, it’s also valuable advice regarding the use of quotations and introductory text. The best formatting tip when it comes to using content written by another source is to cite, cite, and then cite some more – always be absolutely sure that you give credit where it is due, and then expect the same good treatment in return from other bloggers and online publishers.
2. Use Effective Imagery
If you can recall what it felt like as a child to finally progress from heavily illustrated books to those highly focused on textual content, then you surely remember the sense of disappointment that surrounded no longer being able to indulge in picture books. And here’s the thing: illustrations aren’t just for children! Human beings of all ages have a brain tuned towards taking in information in a myriad of ways, and you can always engage your audience more fully by using imagery that reflects your topic.
As is the case when using quotations, also be sure to cite the source of an image if it isn’t your own; simply using Google Image search to churn up an appropriate looking picture is not only unethical, but unoriginal – if your readers could have found the content you’re presenting previously on another website, they won’t have much reason to stick around.
3. Remember What Your English Teachers Taught You
Perhaps most important when publishing content is ensuring that you’re following the advice and rules set upon you by your high school English teachers. As a casual reader, you’ve surely come across blogs and websites that contained content that interested you, but a level of bad formatting that simply made that content unreadable; don’t fall into the same trap and allow bad grammar, sentence structure, and use of paragraphs scare your readers away.
Obviously, you’ll want to avoid the always dreaded “wall of text” and allow your readers to stay focused by breaking your content into timely, well-managed paragraphs. Within those paragraphs, utilize tools like spelling and grammar checkers built into word processors in order to ensure that your content flows nicely and properly, making it easier to read and enjoy for anyone who happens upon it.
These may seem like obvious points, but a quick look around the interweb will reveal many online publishers that don’t adhere to them at all. Don’t make the same mistakes: by following these three simple guidelines, you can help to make sure that everyone who visits your website or blog surfs away feeling that the time that they had with you was well-spent, potentially earning you a bookmark or RSS subscription in the process.