Tip: Keep paragraphs in web content short

Keep paragraphs short. Contented.com tip.

Keep paragraphs short in any document that is likely to be published on a web site, or read on a computer screen.

  • Try to keep most paragraphs under 65 words.
  • Write no paragraph longer than about 200 words.
  • Vary the length of paragraphs.

This will help you overcome a uniquely digital problem. A paragraph printed on paper is always the same size and shape--but the same paragraph will change its shape (sometimes alarmingly) on every computer screen.

Everyone uses a unique combination of browser, computer (PC or Mac, old or new), window size, and font size preference. Consequently you have no idea how a certain paragraph will appear on your readers’ screens.

  • one centimetre tall or 5 centimetres tall?
  • 6 words to the line or 22 words to the line?

If your paragraphs appear to be very long, many readers may feel disturbed. They assume reading will be hard work. They may quit the page rather than try to read it.

Vary the length of paragraphs
This is a simple trick you can apply after the document is written. I have noticed many people are reluctant to read a page with equal sized paragraphs. They automatically think the text will be boring, because the page looks boring.

So before publishing a page, check that paragraphs vary in size. A mere tweak will make the page much more appealing. Encourage your readers by including the occasional ultra-short, single-sentence paragraph.

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