Subheads take the cake

They’re ‘the most important thing you can do’ online

Think of subheads as the icing on the cake.

Subheads help skimmers skim

Piece of cake Readers go for the frosting — aka the subheads — in online stories. That makes it easier for them to find what they’re looking for. Image by Annie Spratt

Skimmers look at subheads to learn what content you’re offering on a webpage, blog post or news release. This creates the layer cake eye-gazing pattern — on an eyetracking heat map, it shows up as a series of horizontal lines.

That helps visitors find what they want quickly.

Without subheads to guide the way, web visitors either skim the first line (or less) of each paragraph in the F-shaped eye-gazing pattern or hunt around for individual words in the spotted pattern. Both of those are inefficient ways for skimmers to find what they want.

Help visitors find what they want >>>

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“A writer who knows the big parts can name them for the reader, using such markers as subheadings and chapter titles, the reader who sees the big parts is more likely to remember the whole story.”
— Roy Peter Clark, senior scholar, The Poynter Institute

Lift Ideas Off the Screen

Reach nonreaders with display copy

People spend 96% of their time on websites looking, not reading, according to a Xerox PARC critical incident study.

Write for Mobile - Ann Wylie’s web-writing workshop on June 12-13, 2018 in Chicago

“People read paper,” says TJ Larkin, Larkin Communications Consulting. “They use the web.”

Because even highly educated web visitors read, on average, just 20% of words on the page.

Indeed, web visitors read, on average, 20% of words on the page, according to an analysis of 50,000 page views of European computer scientists, psychologists, sociologists, engineers.

At Write for Mobile — our two-day hands-on web-writing master class on June 12-13 in Chicago — you’ll learn how to:

  • Pass The Palm Test. Improve reading time, comprehension and satisfaction with one quick trick.
  • Take five simple steps to write links that get scanned and clicked.
  • Use a six-step process to transform your bulleted lists into freestanding information packages that lift key messages off the screen for nonreaders.
  • Bust the myth of page view time: Measurably boost understanding, memory, satisfaction — while taking readers 50% less time.
  • Pass The Skim Test: Make sure even flippers and skimmers can get the gist of your message — without reading the paragraphs.

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Save $100 when you register by March 1.

Register now.

“Simply life changing.”
— Jose Romero, technical product manager, NXP Semiconductors

Polish your skills

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Denver | May 1-2

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Register for Master the Art of the Storyteller - Ann Wylie's creative-writing workshop on July 25-26 in Portland

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Register for NOT Your Father’s News Release - Ann Wylie's PR-writing workshop on Sept. 6-7 in Atlanta

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Atlanta | Sept. 6-7

Register for Catch Your Readers - Ann Wylie's creative-writing workshop on Oct. 2-3 in Dallas

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Dallas | Oct. 2-3

Register for Inside the Inbox - Ann Wylie's Email-writing workshop on Nov. 7-8 in Washington D.C.

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Washington D.C. | Nov. 7-8

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