Why are so many good HP Hubbers so incredibly "PARAGRAPH PHOBIC?"
This is a plea for the Paragraph Phobic among you to (1) have mercy on your readers and (2) a suggestion that will increase your number of views/comments. As research has shown, reading a computer screen is taxing and tiring for the eyes and the brain.
So providing "white space" at frequent intervals is essential. And in terms of both comprehension and enjoyment, material in paragraphs if much preferred over an interminable cascade of words and sentences all run together.
Please break up your long sections of text. Multiple paragraphs will thrill your readers. Thank you!
Why doesn't HP have the option to 'like' a question? I want to like this!
Great point to highlight. When I read up on web writing I had to learn to make 2-3 sentence paragraphs all the time, not just sometimes.
It's not hard to make that a rule for our writing--doesn't take long to make it a habit. Going back over old ones to begin taking care of the problem of long paragraphs certainly helped concrete the concept for me, and it helped view duration stats.
You are absolutely right! Also, when using multiple paragraphs, it makes sense to put each paragraph (or every two or three paragraphs) into a separate capsule; that way you can add section heads and intersperse photos and videos more frequently and position them better.
AMF, you have hit the proverbial nail right on its proverbial head. This is such great advice and some of our best Hubbers do this on a regular basis. Not sure why others don't catch on and do likewise.
This is what I try to do, especially for adding photos. I like to provide my Hubs with eye candy, lots of it!
I'm not particularly defending writers' choices to use longer paragraphs, because the Internet has people with as varied in preferences as the offline world does; but I, personally, don't let one-size-fits-all Internet wisdom determine what I'll do with a particular piece. For me, it depends on the whether the subject is best dealt with broken down into pieces or whether the subject requires more "in-depth discussion" and the kind of readability flow that can only come with "conventional" writing style, as opposed to the more "staccato" Internet style.
I don't dispute that with the mix of people online a lot of people don't want to deal with more conventional writing, but one of my own biggest frustrations as a potential online reader is to expect "real writing" and keep running into "snippet" or "staccato" writing. Of course, I don't use the Internet to find recipes or poems or "how-to's". I look for "real reading" that has a conventional reading flow. Everyone has his own preferences in what he wants to find online. I don't dispute that a whole lot of people don't want to bother reading "big, long, stuff" (just as my own preference for my own reading purposes is to stay away from the stuff that makes me "feel like killing someone" because it's so chopped up I can't even figure out what, on Earth, the creator of it is trying to do (lol). BUT, none of us is going to make everyone happy all the time. Aiming to follow one-size-fits all Google and/or Internet common-wisdom has been a lot of people's traffic downfall (especially right after Panda when "readability" came into focus).
It doesn't help that Internet fonts have large type, so even a modest-length paragraph looks "intimidating" to anyone who doesn't want a big chunk of screen filled up with text. Not everyone wants to keep scrolling while reading, though.
The real problem may be that some types of "in-depth analysis" (as Google calls it) or in-depth discussions don't belong on SOME sites. Fair enough. Writing is about finding the right place for a piece.
Chopping up discussions to accommodate large Internet fonts can amount to appearing like "no-paragraphs at all" (which can destroy flow).
Some of my most visited/commented on/well rated Hubs have been "conventional writing". No doubt, a lot of people click away. That's fine and how it is. Many people prefer to write what they think is best for "author reputation"/"writer reputation" and risk losing some readers.
Hi Lisa - You make some good points and I don't care for the snippet style either. As an academic and book-lover, I was suggesting that hubbers might try "moderate" length paragraphs. I use moderate on HP and long in my research papers. Thanks.
No argument from me there. My thing, though, is finding articles that look like a big, long, long-lined, free-style, poem. (lol). Of course, no-paragraphs isn't good is either. Hitting that perfect, please all/most, balance is tricky
You make good points, but I have to admit I was discouraged when I saw the large paragraph coming up as your 2nd paragraph. I muscled though it, but I see our tendency to first skim a daunting paragraph to see if we really want to invest time in it.
You are taught in school, or at least you use to be, that a paragraph should have three sentences, topic, explanatory and conclusion or something like that. People started writing longer sentences, and paragraphs got longer.
As an old reporter, I was taught to let each paragraph be a thought or a point. Thus, most of my paragraphs are one or at the most two sentences and usually between four and eight lines ( newspaper column width), there are always exceptions.
Shorter paragraphs do several things:
1. It keeps the key points, and sometimes conflicting points separate.
2. It avoids confusion
3. It improves readability because the shorter paragraphs usually introduce more white space into the story because of the indentation of the first line and the fact the final line seldom goes to the end of the column.
4. As you are writing the story, it is easier to move the paragraphs around if you want to change the order.
6. It allows people to scan the article and decided if they want to devote any time to reading it.
7. Short paragraph is the way we think. We think in moments, pauses, events, unique situations, etc. We should present it in that manner.
There are English teachers and professors who will disagree with me, but a page full of type with no white space, is not inviting and may be passed over. If you can read a few paragraphs and get the main ideas (not idea) of the story, you are more likely to read the whole thing.
Thanks Larry for taking the time to explain the other appoach - Journalism. I tend toward paragraphs of 5 to 10 sentences, but then I am not a journalist. Very helpful explanation. Our goal is the same to encourage quality writing and reading.
Different types of writing has different jobs to accomplish. Different fields of writing have different sets of rules/styles for their own purposes. Writing is like walking - often done differently for different purposes.
Well said! I've tried to read some excellent hubs here on HP but just had to give up due to the fact of no breaks in between the words - it does take the pleasure out of reading and it's a shame, because most of these writers are excellent! Here's hoping they see your question!
LOL...I have noticed the same thing. I have offered to help. Now I just throw up my hands and don't read long, endless paragraphs.
You raise an excellent point. I agree with your style of reading--I don't like "snippets and staccato writing," (as you put described it so well). It is as frustrating as watching the news, and feeling you are getting shortchanged of the full story by their servings of 'sound bytes.'
I also agree with the reply by Larry Wall, because even though I was never a professional working journalist, I did study journalism in high school, and was feature page editor of the school paper. The same principles he points out do apply.
In my own writing, I do try to use paragraphs correctly and judiciously, alternating between breaking them up within capsules, and sometimes giving them their own capsule, depending on the length, and whether or not a sub-heading is warranted.
I do think 'white space' is important--it is why I find Dickens difficult to read. (I actually have an original set of the complete works, and there is virtually no white space on the pages; that, and the fact that the miniscule typeface requires a microscope to read!)
As far as font size, that can be adjusted to taste with your own computer settings...zoom in or out to get your preferred size. As I've aged, I need larger type, and sometimes the so-called "large" fonts of the internet are not, in fact, large enough. I need my glasses for computer work.
You want long paragraphs? Try James Michener--who sometimes uses an entire paragraph for a single, overly-long sentence!
I so agree. I think a large part of hubbing should be looking at the page as a whole. A visually appealing page will have white space, like what is between paragraphs. I love using lists, tables and other elements also to help break up the page into digestible chunks.
I do agree. It is painful to read long, long hubs that are not broken up and made reader-friendly. It's also a help to use the numbering or points system, too, as that helps to break up the flow and give an idea of where the writer is going.
Some hub writers has really great ideas and it would be so much better if their work was divided up in paragraphs with separate headings, too.
I've often thought this, so thank you for bringing it up.
Theresa...Thank you! Thank you! Thank you for asking this question and explaining why you asked it so clearly. I pass up articles that might be good reading if broken into reasonable paragraphs because I don't have the patience to wade through screens of unbroken text.
(I love the term you coined, "Paragraph Phobic!")
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