Formatting an Internet article is much different than writing for a newspaper or magazine and much different than writing a short story. One reason is that it is common knowledge that Internet readers are impatient and want all the information as quickly as possible. There are several ways that the formatting used in online pieces helps make it more readable and user friendly.
Bolded section headers break up the solid wall of text and also give the reader an idea of what they will find in the following paragraphs. This makes it easy for an Internet reader to skim the headings and see whether the article is going to give them the information they are looking for without reading the whole thing.
Formatting with bullets enables a reader to focus on the important items that are part of the bulleted list, and also help to break up text. If you’ve ever tried to read a whole page of solid text online then you know that it becomes tiresome and even easy to lose your place. Bullets provide a break from the endless lines of text and create a focal point that illuminates the highlights of the article.
Numbered lists work much the same way as bullets do, but they also give readers a sense of continuity and the feeling of having read all the important facets of the article once they get through all the numbered items.
I’m sure you remember in school being taught that a paragraph has an introductory sentence, a body and a conclusion. Internet articles don’t follow this rule exactly. Paragraphs are short, to the point and not filled with flowery prose. Internet readers are there for a reason they want to know something, and they want to know it quickly. Keep it simple and your readers will be happy with the information your article provides.
There are many things about writing an online article that make is different from other writing. Learning all of the tricks of the trade, formatting choices and the ability to condense information into shorter articles for the web are all part of being a successful article writer.
When you start an article and see that it is just paragraph after paragraph of solid text, try breaking it up using shorter more succinct paragraphs, numbered lists, bullets and/or section headings. You don’t want to format your Internet article so that the “bells and whistles” detract from the information; you want the formatting to act as a flashing neon arrow telling your readers “Here is what you are looking for!”