When it comes to paragraphs, shorter’s better
Believe it or not, this is an actual paragraph that appeared in an actual publication:
It weighs in at 465 words. It’s the first paragraph in the story. And it appears in an online publication. Can you imagine reading this honker on your phone?
What’s wrong with long paragraphs?
The problem with long paragraphs is that they look hard to read. And because they look hard to read, people don’t read them.
“Long paragraphs are a visual predictor that a story won’t work.”
— Jon Ziomek, associate professor at the Medill School of Journalism
That’s right: Readers skip long paragraphs. So if your paragraph is too long, you might as well stamp on it in red ink, “Don’t bother reading this paragraph. Our lawyers made us add this stuff. We formatted it this way on purpose so you’d skip it.”
So how long is too long for a paragraph?
Cut Through the Clutter
How long are your paragraphs? Your sentences? Your words?
Please join me at Catch Your Readers — our two-day persuasive-writing workshop in New Orleans on Nov. 13-14.
You’ll leave this session with readability targets to hit to reach all of your audience members, tools to measure your copy’s readability and techniques for hitting those targets.
Save $100 when you book by Oct. 13.