Blog Post Style

I’ve been reflecting lately on what makes a good blog post. In particular I’m thinking about the structure of a post.

I grew up learning that a typical paragraph is 4-5 sentences in length, if not longer. In addition, sentence structure should be varied and words should be chosen carefully.

The world of blogs seems to change this a little. I find that I prefer reading posts that are broken up into paragraphs of 2-3 sentences. The width of the typical blog is at least half, if not a third, of a typical page.

Less immediately becomes more.

In checking up on my stats, I have found that most visits to this blog last less than a minute. So if I have something important to say, I need to break it into small pieces and put it out there. A long paragraph becomes burdensome to blog readers. They would probably say that I should have begun a new paragraph with the previous sentence. Ah, but I have kept going here just to make my point. If I had something fairly weighty to say, you would have a hard time persevering simply because of the way this is all stretched out down the blog. In fact, you may have even given up by now with my drivel.

I am still a firm believer in writing clear sentences with carefully chosen words and varying structures, but even with shorter blog posts, the craft of writing can suffer. Most blogs are simply first drafts.

A blog of first drafts is OK if you’re only trying to put information out there. If you want people to take it seriously, then my guess is you’ll want to polish it a little.

Us Cyzewski’s (that’s my last name by the way) tend to Polish things as well.

Sorry, that pun is with me every time I hear the word “polish.”

If you can help it, take the time to think about some of the following:

Your point of view: Are you going to afflict readers with a preachy use of the second person “you” or are you going to be chatty and personal with “you.” Perhaps third person is better for certain topics. The first person can be useful as a narrative device.

Word Choice: The careful choice of words can make all of the difference in a carefully crafted post. Needless repetition detracts from your main point. Needless repetition detracts from your main point.

Read It Once: You can’t catch everything, but give your post a satisfying read upon completion. You’ll find errors, complete your incomplete thoughts (see previous point about word choice), and may even decide to scrap the post altogether. I think the courage to delete is essential for bloggers. We need not take ourselves so seriously.

Keep Paragraphs Short: This may be completely wrong, but in my opinion 2-3 sentences should be the standard limit for blog post paragraphs. I find it incredibly hard to plow through large chunks of text online. Heck, most ministries like Billy or Franklin Graham keep the paragraphs of their mailings pencil thin, and that is no accident.

Keep in mind that newspapers often indent one sentence as a complete paragraph. The key is adjusting the flow of your content to the media.

Out to Lunch: The most important thing to keep in mind is this: if you think I’m out to lunch; you’re probably right. The Vermont Turkey sandwich at the Lawyer and the Baker (in Manchester, VT) is my current favorite by the way.

3 thoughts on “Blog Post Style

  1. ScottB

    So – I think I break every single one of those. :) Add in there something about not using words that send folks to the dictionary – I’ve had a number of people tell me that.

    But I still do it. 😉

  2. Ed Post author

    Scott, it’s OK for you . . . I think you can get away with it. Your blog is pretty wide and I can typically make it through one of your paragraphs provided that my brain is humming along.

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