• Bryony Pearce

The curse of the chunky paragraph

Updated: Sep 17, 2019

Chunky paragraphs are one of my *many* pet writing peeves. They throw me back to 2014 when I was hammering away at my dissertation during uni - because that's where they belong, academic writing. Well, actually, if I had my way they wouldn't even have a home there.

But anyway, the point I'm making is they just don't belong in blogs, guides, or landing pages, etc. that are designed to engage people - because, in reality, they do quite the opposite.

The benefits of punchy paragraphs

You'll visually see for yourself very soon, but before I start preaching (and probably ranting) here are just a few of the rewards you could reap:

  1. They make your content easier to skim. And most people skim.

  2. They encourage people to read on (you'll see a practical example of this a little later on).

  3. They can add dramatic effect.

  4. They make your writing more punchy, and punchy keeps people tuned in - till the end.

  5. They help to filter out all that 'bumf' your writing probably started with.

  6. People have short attention spans. Punchy paragraphs can help you crack that 10-second window and lure readers in.

Finger pointing

Here are a couple of prime examples of articles that know no different than seven to nine line-long paragraphs.

Example #1:

Example #2:

Argue with me if you like, but through my eyes, there's nothing visually pleasing about these. They don't look digestible. They don't make the content easy to skim. And they don't encourage me to want to get stuck in.

The battle

The words you write are only half the battle - well, maybe more like 70% of it. The other, and often overlooked side of it, is your layout.

The same way the imagery in your social ad has to entice your audience to click through, the presentation of your content has to scream "come on, read me!".

Winning is easy

The best part is creating an aesthetically pleasing piece of content couldn't be any easier. There are a whole host of tactics you can employ (like images, infographics, videos, and quotes), but to keep things even simpler, here are a handful of text-based tweaks you could try:

  • Keep paragraphs to around three or four lines;

  • Use subtitles to break up content clusters;

  • Differentiate your H2, H3, H4, etc. tags to clearly define your hierarchy; and

  • Mix up listed content by adding bullet points (images, letters, or numbers) - these can help you earn featured snippet status too.

Proving my point

Using the article from example #1 above, I ate my own advice and look at the difference it made:

What did I do?

All I did was break up the paragraphs (where it made sense to), include a bunch of bullet points, and divide the content with subtitles. It took literally all of five minutes. Easy.

So, next time you're getting ready to hit publish, why not give it a go yourself? It'll make all the difference.

What's next for you?

If you need a hand producing tip-top content then you're in the right place. Whether you need someone to write your copy from scratch of proof your final piece, get in touch today to see how I could help.