Make your hub more readable: Stop assaulting innocent web readers!

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Readability can be the difference between someone clicking away from your hub or reading it from beginning to end. A hub that is easy to read does not take a toll on the mind, is easy on the eyes and not harsh to our emotions either.

Good readability makes a hub like the path of least resistance to web readers – and they surely would follow it. However, readability should not be left to chance; various characteristics and attributes contribute to it.

Proper punctuation, spelling and grammar

When hub-hopping, you encounter articles of varied quality. Grammar, spelling and punctuation are fundamental elements of understandability. The worst thing is to delve into a hub that looks interesting, only to be assaulted by poor grammar wielding a katana and a rod of incorrection. Tink about if langwage were yoused in any manna and proper punktuation gramma and spelling were ignored that would be terrible wuldn’t it.

That last sentence is a clear exaggeration, but apart from such writing being flag-worthy, it distorts meaning and makes the reader work harder to understand your meaning. Don’t let your good ideas and thoughts be construed as utter rubbish because of this. Those who are unaccustomed to writing in English (or those who just aren’t good at it) can have it proofread by someone who is more proficient in the language.

Formatting

Even if a hub is superbly written, poor formatting can affect its readability. The “wall of text” phenomenon is particularly disturbing. Paragraphs that are 300 words long are just not cool either. Paragraphs should be given space to breathe and line spacing should be consistent. This is not only enhances the appearance of the hub, but improves the content organization.

In addition, some persons do not know about the ellipsis, which is exactly three dots long (…). Their “ellipses” are much more than that. However, the real joke is when the ellipsis varies in length within the hub! (….. … .... ………) Some persons use double spaces after punctuation marks. Whatever formatting you choose should be consistent throughout to enhance the readability of a hub. The more persnickety reader may be distracted by such inconsistencies.

The wall of text drives me up a wall.
The wall of text drives me up a wall.

Arrangement of Hub capsules

This is related to formatting, but it deserves a separate section. The beauty of HupPages is the freedom to design your hub and arrange the capsules as you see fit. Some Hubbers pay no attention to this or abuse the capsules.

There are some hubs that have a huge picture or a number of pictures at the top before you see any text. I know there are picture hubs, but those weren’t in that category. That’s a huge turn-off if the picture is not the focus, since the pictures are usually without context and may not be enough to hook the reader into scrolling down.

Then, there are some hubs that oversell Amazon ads, with too many ads or too many capsules. There are many tips for effectively presenting the ads. Sometimes, I’m enjoying a hub and then encounter the Amazon ad spread across the middle. So I scroll down and have to pass over five ads before you can continue reading. That’s like getting an advert without a designated commercial break. Don’t have a hub looking like the Sahara or an over-crowded, smog-filled city. Design is about finding that delicate balance and making your hub even more attractive and useful.

Logical structure and organization

As mentioned before, formatting has a role to play in reinforcing the structure and organization of your hub. However, logically connecting sentences within a paragraph is critical. Each sentence should be related and should build on the previous one. Arbitrary paragraphing can make it harder to follow the hub, especially if unrelated ideas are in the same paragraph. The type of writing you do would be a major consideration, but even in creative writing, logical structure and sequence is important.

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Informal writing

Writing on the web is less formal, which is great. You can ignore some of the rigid rules linked to writing academic essays. For instance, using the second person singular is actually encouraged, although many persons frown upon the overuse of the first-person singular in any writing. Putting the “I” in a hub can enhance it, but any personal views or anecdotes should enhance the hub, not make it lose the plot or the reader.

Concise content

HubPages stipulates that the ideal hub should be between 500 and 1500 words long. In fact, most writing sites use that benchmark for length. Some readers may click away if they see something beyond that; others may find even 800 words daunting (hmmm…I’d better check my length). Anyway, the reality is that an article is only too long if it doesn’t hold the reader’s interest to the end.

Ezinearticles recommends breaking up longer articles into shorter ones. A 1500-word piece can be reduced to two 750 hubs, which can be linked to each other. That’s the beauty of being able to hyperlink in hubs. On the other hand, you should avoid writing an essay on a hub that may be better off short.

Sentence length

Since being able to sustain a reader’s interest is important in online readability, sentence length plays a part in the tone and style of a hub. Short sentences are choppy. Long sentences may be a bit meandering, leaving you wondering where the next stop is. The best policy is to mix up the long and short ones – vary the sentence lengths to add pizzazz and avoid monotony.

Conclusion

Of all the characteristics of readability, formatting and language are likely the most important. Regardless of what your topic is, most readers should be able to understand your hub – if not the topic. Clean up the sentence fragments and the broken English. Preview your hubs to see how attractive it is before publishing. Simple steps such as those could boost the readability of your hubs significantly.

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Comments 20 comments

DDS profile image

DDS 5 years ago from Toronto

Good advice, but must admit for me at least hard to follow sometimes.


LucellaDenny profile image

LucellaDenny 5 years ago from Wisconsin, USA

Awesome advice and very true. Thanks for sharing!


Jason R. Manning profile image

Jason R. Manning 5 years ago from Sacramento, California

You wrote a lovely hub that should be indoctrinated into the Hubpages rule book. Clean, clear and concise. Thank you for sharing your helpful hints. Now I have to go back and give my articles the evil eye…Cheers.


ThelmaC profile image

ThelmaC 5 years ago from Blue Ridge Mountains, USA

Very interesting hub. Thanks so much for sharing. Now I'm going to check my ellipsis!


SpiffyD profile image

SpiffyD 5 years ago from The Caribbean Author

Thanks for the comments everyone. There are many great articles on HubPages, but not everyone may be using the power of Hubbing as yet.


carriethomson profile image

carriethomson 5 years ago from United Kingdom

absolutely great hub and great advice.. thanx for sharing..


bethperry profile image

bethperry 5 years ago from Tennesee

Great advice, SpiffyD!


BreakingUp profile image

BreakingUp 5 years ago

Agree! Your hub reflects your personality. A cluttered hub is like a cluttered mind.


carcamping profile image

carcamping 5 years ago

I agree!!!


shailesh549 profile image

shailesh549 5 years ago

Very good advice, SpiffyD Keep writing :)


feenix profile image

feenix 5 years ago

Hello, SpiffyD,

Well, I really do like this hub. It is jam-packed with useful information for all levels of writers. I know I gained some new insights from it.


SpiffyD profile image

SpiffyD 5 years ago from The Caribbean Author

Thanks for the read and comments everyone. Thanks for the visit feenix.


jami l. pereira 5 years ago

Thanks for sharing , very informative and useful


Springboard profile image

Springboard 5 years ago from Wisconsin

If ever there were a hub that needed to be passed on, this one would surely be one to do just that. I think the thing with the Internet is that suddenly EVERYONE is a published writer, and EVERYONE calls themself one because they have a blog, or a HubPages account, or any one of the other numerous writing sites. This of course does not make it so. What do I call myself? A content provider. I like to write. I think I write fairly well. But no one has ever paid me to write a single thing, and magazines and newspapers are not knocking my door down looking for me to provide their next article or editorial.

The Internet is an open forum. I think that's part of the problem. No editors and too many outlets. Your dog could paw the keyboard and hit the publish button these days...

BUT, I still believe in survival of the fittest here. If the Hubber is good, he'll succeed in attracting readers and building an organic audience as well. Same goes for bloggers. Same goes for any writing or writers. If it's crap, it will get balked at, and eventually it will go away.


Wesman Todd Shaw profile image

Wesman Todd Shaw 5 years ago from Kaufman, Texas

I did the total and complete "button dance" on this hub for you, Sir.

Very true. I'm to that special little place where I flag things with grammar that I can't decipher according to the rules of English.

I tend to try to assault my readers though - in a more grammatically correct sort of way.


GreenSage profile image

GreenSage 5 years ago

Amen!I've been working to create better written hubs (difficult, because I don't have a printer to get a hard copy for editing) but this is encouraging.


cheerfulnuts profile image

cheerfulnuts 5 years ago from Manila, Philippines

I'm guilty about the Amazon ads. I tend to put Amazon capsules between paragraphs. I wanted to put them on the right side of the text so they wouldn't distract the readers, but I couldn't because my hubs already have loads of photos on the side LOL. Thanks for sharing these tips.:)


SpiffyD profile image

SpiffyD 5 years ago from The Caribbean Author

Thanks for your extensive comment Springboard. I agree that crap would get shunned eventually, unless you're that girl who can't sing (Rebecca Black).

Wesman, I have to salute the grammar police. Grammar is a problem on some hubs, but I try not to be too harsh, since some hubbers are not native English speakers.

GreenSage, I'm still working on how to write better hubs too! :). Cheerfulnuts, thanks for the visit and the cheers. In some cases, the Amazon ads seem to have no home. However, placing one ad wouldn't interrupt the flow too much. I looked back on a hub I posted in the earlies and I saw so many Amazon ads. They don't perform that well anyway, so I figure one or two very relevant Amazon ads per hub is fine.

The major issue with the ads is when you see three/four irrelevant ones in the body of the text. Whether those are in the middle or on the side probably makes little difference, since they detract from the text.

Again, thanks for the comments everyone!


TheInspiredLife profile image

TheInspiredLife 4 years ago from North Carolina

As a new hub writer I found this very interesting. I am just wondering about length because a couple days ago I read a hub that said the most successful hubs are "at least 1500 words." Now I am wondering if my length is holding my hubs back. I have so much to learn here! Thanks for sharing this info. Voted up!


SpiffyD profile image

SpiffyD 4 years ago from The Caribbean Author

Thanks for commenting Inspired. The issue about length is a touchy one. If you write 2000 words, it's not automatically a terrible thing - once it is interesting and engaging throughout. It is easier to establish "too short" (under 400 words) than "too long." If readers click away before the end, that is a great definition of "too long."

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