I was reading a national newspaper the other day – it’s an occupational hazard – when I was struck by the paper’s complete absence of sub-headers (it was the Guardian if you must know). There’s the headline in all its attention grabbing glory, but what happened to all its little brothers and sisters scattered strategically throughout the piece to help the reader navigate the article and keep them interested?
A barren landscape (there’s a sub for you)
There was a big investigative story that looked interesting, but confronted by the acres of news print, I couldn’t quite face the read. It all looked a little daunting.
One click and you’ve lost it (make them engaging…)
Writing for the web for instance demands that you write less; break it up into manageable chunks; have clear signposting in place; and basically do all you can to keep a tenacious hold of the reader’s digitally shortened attention span. One click and you’ve lost it.
Now I know writing in newsprint gives you a bit more of that reader’s attention span, but just how much? Would you have an article without pictures? I would say that good sub-headers are just as important.
Free money (…but keep them relevant)
So when you’re next writing a piece whether it’s online or print, an internal newsletter or an article for external publication, think what you can do to the layout to make it as engaging and as easy to read as possible.
It doesn’t matter how well crafted your words are if no one bothers to read them.