Trying to verbalise your thoughts can sometimes be considered as a hard task. Writing it into a narrative or some composition might even be harder. Some people love it and make a living out of it; while some might dread it. There are a lot of considerations for writing, but the most important guideline out there is that you should not forget who you are writing for.
Your intended audience will largely shape how you should start and end your composition. There are already a lot of publications and websites about the guidelines in writing. However, this time, put yourself in the shoes of your receiving end – your readers. Reading from a published book, magazine, or newspaper is already hard. Not everyone has the time nor the interest in reading your composition. But with the advent of the Internet, more and more people are taking their reading experiences online; and this makes it harder for writers. Reading a printed material is very different from reading from a computer screen, much more, a mobile phone.
For those who are starting to write for the web, or who are about to, here are some guidelines regarding online readers.
Physiology of the human eye
The normal reading distance for the human eye is about 35cm. Studies have shown that reading and retention rates decrease as line length start to go beyond an average field of view of 3.67cm (six degrees of an arc).
On the other hand, the recommended OHS viewing distance for computer users is 40 to 70cm. This is equal to five mid-sized words.
However, when reading the brain unconsciously increases this length. The optimal size of a column of text has been found to be about 12 words in a line, about 60 characters per line.
Abrupt reading of texts
According to researches, readers only read about 20% of the text of an average page. Similar studies also show that readers read their email newsletters more abruptly than they do in websites.
It is quite a fact that readers do not read everything word. They just scan and pick out separate words and sentences.
Most reading patterns of websites look like the letter “F”.
Readers usually read from top to bottom with decreasing horizontal views. The vertical movement readers make by scanning the contents of the left portion of the website serves as the stem of the letter F.
Use these facts to your advantage. Readers are easily lost when their eyes must pass through a long distance in a page, therefore making it hard to look for the beginning of the next line.
Use a lot of techniques to keep their interests. Highlighting keywords, changing formats, using meaningful subheadings, employing the inverted pyramid style, and using bullets and lists are some guidelines.
Get straight to the point and use only a single idea in every paragraph. Decrease the length by using short and simple words. Add credibility by doing research and including links to other sites. Avoid flashing and multi-coloured texts.