Formatting posts in WordPress: 10 tips to increase readability

Formatting posts in WordPress

Formatting really matters

Great content can be undermined by poor formatting and inappropriate use of images. Paying attention to the formatting of your posts in WordPress makes it easier to scan your pages for relevance.

Unfortunately, much of the Web is like an anthill built by ants on LSD: many sites don’t fit into the big picture, and are too difficult to use because they deviate from expected norms. – The Need for Web Design Standards

If you’re going to spend time publishing you owe it to yourself to make it easy to read, to create a pleasant, consistent experience for your audience.

Formatting posts in WordPress

Understanding how users read on the web makes you aware of how scarce attention is online, and how valuable it really is. Use these easy formatting tips to increase the effectiveness of your WordPress publishing efforts.

1. Use plenty of line-breaks.

Studies show that large blocks of text with no line-breaks make your readers feel like it’s hard work. Creating space in your copy is as easy as hitting the return key more often.

2. Use emphasis and bold on key words and phrases.

This helps draw attention to key elements of your content that are important to your readers. A restrained but effective use of bold and italics can make your articles more readable and effective.

3. Use lists to strengthen your points and create curiosity.

Bullet lists break up your ideas and make them easy to digest. Numbered lists are a great way to move your readers step-by-step through your thinking process.

It also sets up a kind of bread trail that creates a sense of achievement and helps memory retention.

4. Add relevant links.

Linking to valuable resources adds value and shows that you have command of your subject. You’re also associating with greatness by simply linking to other websites.

Internal links are a great way to keep people reading your content.

5. Check your spelling.

If you have a proofreader that’s great, but the rest of us can use the excellent spelling and grammar checker in Jetpack.

Attention to details like spelling and grammar shows a pride in your work and makes it easier to read.

6. Use Header tags.

Use H2 (Header 2) for article sections that ideally contain your keywords and Header 3 and Header 4 tags for emphasis and to break up your posts. This increases readability and makes your articles more scannable.

Header Tags - WordPress editor

7. Use block quotes.

This is a great way to bolster your main points and create space in your content – try to credit the author or link to a source where possible.

8. Intelligent use of color.

Generally it’s a good idea to allow the CSS style sheet for your theme to determine the font type, weight and color of your header tags and body text. Discover how to edit the styles of your fonts here.

If you do add color styles with the button on the WordPress editor, make sure it does not confuse. e.g. Don’t make a section of text the same color as your links.

In addition you should also have an ‘action’ color that is only used for links and buttons on your website.

What’s the BEST color for high conversions?

Images

9. Use relevant images.

Don’t use an image to be cute or just to fill up the space. It must add something to the focus of the article. Otherwise it can kill conversion.

Sources for royalty free images here.

10. Use captions.

Image captions are some of the most read content on web pages. It can be a powerful way to get visitors to read the rest of your content.

Studies have shown that up to twice as many people read captions as body copy. – Social Triggers

Make your posts more effective by investing a little more time with your formatting. You’ll be glad you did.

Questions? Let us know in the comments.

photo credit: i.am.rebecca via photopin cc

7 Responses to “Formatting posts in WordPress: 10 tips to increase readability”

  1. Roberta McDonnell May 5, 2013 at 10:46 pm #

    Brilliant! Thanks R.

  2. Christopher L. Scott June 25, 2013 at 10:41 am #

    For point #6 in this post, my headers are not working. When I select header #2 or #3, the text appears the same size.

    Is there a way within WordPress to format this?

    Thanks.

    • Herrin Larkan June 25, 2013 at 8:04 pm #

      Within the WordPress editor the text will often look the same size – but when it’s published or viewed on the front-end it will look different.

      To see all the different sizes and styles I would recommend creating a draft with all the different headers and formatting options on one page so you can see how they all look.

      The CSS or Cascading Style Sheet is what determines how it displays on the public side of your site.

      If you feel confident with getting your hands dirty in terms of coding, I would recommend this guide as a start to customizing the look and feel of your site.

      http://wptribe.net/how-to-change-fonts-in-wordpress/

      cheers

  3. Khan Aqib October 5, 2013 at 10:55 pm #

    Hi. my name is khan Aqib.

    I have a question . How can an admin set the default time for every post? e.g each post should be published at 04:00 PM Local time. I set the utc/gmt time. after that i schedule the post by setting the time and date on the Publish section . after the time reaches post status shows Missing schedule.

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