Website Mistake: Wall of Text

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Walls of text are long paragraphs that are not edited or formatted to be readable on the web. Some particularly egregious walls of text don’t even bother with the paragraph breaks. Why is this important?

A wall of text just might turn away a visitor before they have a chance to become a reader.

Why Walls of Text Don’t Work

Reading on the web isn’t at all like reading in print. When people come to your website they are researching, they are impatient and distracted and therefore tend to skim page content.

Ask yourself how many times you skimmed a whole page scrolling by then scroll back to content that seemed the most interesting. Why are we doing this; because skimming is saving time?

While the goal of a long paragraph is to inform readers, it often has the opposite effect. No matter how enticing or exciting the topic is, readers will lose their focus if the text isn’t legible.

7 Ways To Avoid Walls Of Text

  1. Narrow the column – The optimal line length for your body text is considered to be 50-60 characters per line, including spaces (“Typographie,” E. Ruder). Other sources suggest that up to 75 characters are acceptable. So what're the downsides of violating this range?
    Too wide – if a line of text is too long the reader’s eyes will have a hard time focusing on the text. This is because the line length makes it difficult to gauge where the line starts and ends. Furthermore, it can be challenging to continue onto the correct line in large blocks of text.
    Too narrow – if a line is too short the eye will have to travel back too often, breaking the reader’s rhythm. Too short lines also tend to stress readers, making them begin on the next line before finishing the current one (hence skipping potentially essential words).
  2. Use Headings and Subheadings – Use headings and subheadings to divide content into scannable blocks; both Google and your visitor will like it.  Headings can serve as resting points for a website visitor’s eyes and can also summarize what a page of content is about. Headings help website users to grasp the main topics of a long post. As mentioned, users might scan your post as well and why not make that as easy as possible?
  3. Use Visuals – Break content with engaging images. Use images that help you tell the story. Avoid using stock images. The study shows that a significant drop off in continued reading when stock photos are used. You may also use visualized data like graphs or icons to break up content.
  4. Use lists – List is useful tools in the breaking up long paragraphs of contents.  Break up long, content-heavy articles to make your page easier to scan use bulleted and numbered list break up on contents.
  5. Use shorter sentences and paragraphs – Use shorter sentences and paragraphs – Short paragraphs encourage reading. Use shorter paragraphs because there is a higher chance that readers will finish the article, from first to the last paragraph.
  6.  Use blockquotes – Blockquotes can break the monotony of paragraph after paragraph.
  7. Use the right font – Bolding words, statements, or sentences, when used in moderation, can give the eye another place to rest and provide emphasis. But unlike bolded text, italicized text can be difficult to read and should be avoided. Try using bigger font sizes. Most websites are using body text that is 16px or bigger. Break up the monotony of your story and readers will stick around for the entirety of your written post.

What do you think? Have you been making the mistake of presenting your written website copy as a wall of text? Or have you picked up on the text formatting styles of the modern web?