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Formatting Your Content

Formatting Your Content

The problem with writing for the internet is that while you have plenty of experience in your field, most of the people reading your website are only planning on spending a few minutes at best reading it. To get your point across, it’s important to make your post easy to scan, so your readers can find the information they need quickly. The best way to do this is by breaking up the format of your content, so that sections quickly jump out, and important points are clearly highlighted.

Headings

The Title tag determines the Second Level Heading
Headings break up your post both visually and semantically. They mark the beginning of a new section or subsection. Headings are designed to nest: There is only one H1 tag per page, and it describes the entire page. Within that heading, you may have multiple H2 tags, that describe subsections of the page. H3 tags, are subsections of the H2 before them.

On a typical page like this one, the H1 tag is reserved for the title of the blog or website. It is often similar or identical to the web page’s title (the title of the window or tab). Next is the H2 tag, which is usually the title of the page, or post. This is controlled by what you enter in the Title field of your post or page. The first heading that you will use inside the body of your post is probably an H3 (you could use an h2, but that would mean that you had moved on to a different section of the page from the first part of your post.

Blockquotes

Pullquotes are a great way to highlight a section of your page

Blockquotes are another great way to break up the monotony of a page. You can pull them out to the side, like this, to achieve something like a pullquote you would see in a magazine. To do this, you’ll need to have some CSS classes set up. If your site was designed by Blueprint recently, you’ll be able to use left, right, and column to style your pullquote. If you’re using the default theme, you can use align-left and align-right. I’d recommend the TinyMCE Advanced plugin, if you don’t have it installed already. It makes adding classed much easier:

Adding Special Classes using TinyMCE Advanced

Highlighting

As much as headings and blockquotes will guide your readers to the sections they’re interested in, you still need to make your sections easy to read. There are a lot of ways to break highlight portions of your text, but the simplest is to make important parts bold or emphasized. There are a lot of similar elements that can be helpful: inline quotes citations, and abbreviations. You’ll notice that I’ve used the code element a lot, for a similar reason. Links can have a similar effect within a paragraph.

It’s also often helpful to use lists, rather than paragraphs, to explain things. The bite sized chunks are often easier for readers to remember. That’s the main goal of all of these elements – to break up a lot of information into understandable and memorable chunks.

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