White space is both a blogger’s best friend and worst enemy.
But this isn’t the time to worry about enemies.
It’s time to talk about white space being your best friend. Because it is.
White space and, by extension, short paragraphs are the keys to readability. Readability on a visual level, anyway.
Here are four reasons why white space is important:
1. People have short attention spans
Let’s face it: as a society, we’re used to consuming information in small bites (bytes). We have 140 characters on Twitter. We watch 30 second commercials. If we’re not entertained within the first few minutes (or sentences), we’re gone.
Short paragraphs feed into this.
Paragraph breaks pull your eyes down the page as you chase the words.
Like a roller coaster of sentences.
2. Short paragraphs are pleasing to the eye
I forgot to remove divs from a guest post once. It rendered the entire post unreadable because it was one big block of text. A friend said it made her eyes bleed. (Not literally, in case you were worried.)
Big paragraphs hurt.
They are daunting.
You might get lost in the maze of words and sentences and lines and lines of endless words and sentences.
Short paragraphs can make a short post seem longer or it can make a long post seem scalable—like a mountain with long, sloping inclines rather than steep, jutting cliffs.
We feel safer with short paragraphs.
3. Reading posts on cell phones is common
If you’re signed up to receive notifications of new posts, you probably know I use MailChimp. And MailChimp tells me that 80 percent of my subscribers use mobile devices to read my newsletter.
You don’t mess with 80 percent.
Try reading a blog post on a phone. It’s eye opening. Or maybe you’re already reading this from your phone. Mind. Blown.
We can do just about anything from our phones—and that includes reading our favorite blogs. Short paragraphs and lots of white space make the reading experience for everyone, no matter what they’re reading on, the best it can be.
4. Your blog is not an essay
Remember that guideline about the “proper length” of paragraphs? Yeah, the one that says a paragraph should be four to six sentences long. Burn it.
Burn it to the ground.
And I say that as someone who’s taught essay writing. Because your blog? It’s not an essay. Or a newspaper article. Or any of those other boring things.
Your post won’t be graded and marked up. But it will be read. By actual people. And you’re not writing to get an A, you’re writing to spread your message and connect with others.
Quality content doesn’t have to be delivered in essay format. But it does have to be powerful and make an impact. And you know what makes an impact?
Short paragraphs and lots of white space.
Talk to me about white space. Is this something you pay attention to? Why or why not?