If you’re like me, you tend to exit out of those blogs where the author seems to show a complete disregard for what makes sense style- and grammar-wise. (I honestly do–though maybe not the first time I come across these “violations,” but rather if they become chronic.)
And just because you may think your blog isn’t “pretty” (I do offer blog design services, btw!) doesn’t mean you shouldn’t obey some commonsense rules. Now I may not have a Design degree, but as a Writing tutor, web designer, copywriter, and digital marketer who minored in Writing and Rhetoric, I’ve learned a few tricks to help set any blog apart (in a good way).
The following are some of those tricks (in the form of DON’Ts) that I both practice religiously and encourage clients to take advantage of. (Feel free to borrow them if you’d like; just make sure to credit me ; ).)
You’ll notice most (if not all) are for the sake of readability because you should ALWAYS care about your readers’ experience of your site–not just what you think.
1. writing with no uppercase letters in sight:
i honestly don’t understand the blogger movement toward “no caps.” this is one instance where style’s definitely prioritized over function, b/c these bloggers, i’m sure, only care about having their posts look pretty but could care less about readability (ahem, ease of reading). The thing is CAPS were designed to provide a visual break for readers and so they can distinguish where a sentence begins. (Also: a post without caps isn’t pretty.) So to those bloggers who avoid caps, I want to ask: ifyou’resoconcernedaboutstyleandeconomizingkeystrokeswhydon’tyousimplystopusingperiodscommasandspaces?
2. Serif fonts vs. sans-serif fonts:
On print, serif (aka “tailed”) fonts (think Georgia, Times New Roman, Monotype Corsiva, etc.) are for the body text, while sans-serif fonts (think Arial, Tahoma, Helvetica, etc.) are for headers.
But the OPPOSITE APPLIES TO SCREENS like the one you’re reading this on! (Trust me on this.) This is because serif fonts’ tails tire the eyes when focusing on a bright screen, among other reasons. Again, this is an issue of readability and ease of reading.
Use mostly SANS-serif fonts on your website.
3. Super small font(s) for the main text of a post:
Ever notice how the captions of photos are smaller than the actual body copy pretty much everywhere? Do you know why? Sure, it’s about economizing space, but it’s also, again, about good ol’ readability. Apply that same concept to your blog and make it easy for your readers to follow what you want to say. Small text, in LARGE quantities, is exhausting to read.
But what’s “small”? For the body text, size 12 should be the minimum; 13 or 14 are better. For headers (think post titles), size 15-16 should be the minimum.
4. White space:
Another vital aspect of blog design, white space also makes it easy for your readers to follow your blog and your posts, as it allows for their eyes to take small breaks in between all your great words, images and/or widgets. Paragraphs should be three to five sentences long, and sentences no more than a line-and-a-half long.
There are exceptions to these rules, and certainly varying the lengths of paragraphs and sentences yield well-balanced posts, but take advantage of those exceptions sparingly.
5. Courier for the main text of a post:
This may sound like an unjustified stylistic pet peeve of mine, but believe me, it’s not. Remember what I keep saying about readability? The truth is that posts written all in courier are NOT easy to read either. (Combine that w/a post that has no caps and it’s all one huge uncomfortable mess.)
6. Carefree use of common misspellings:
As a writing tutor, I come across the seemingly many uses of these terms more times than I can count. But the thing is that they don’t have “many uses” at all! They have just ONE. Look:
- A “site” is a place. “Sight” refers to seeing. >> The site of our new home is huge. | There weren’t any monkeys in sight.
- “Your” is for what belongs to you. “You’re” means “you + are.” >> May I borrow your Tamagotchi? | You’re not at all like Mr. Darcy.
- “Their” is for what belongs to them; “they’re” means “they + are”; and “there” refers to the placement/location of something. >> Their house is in the middle of the street. | They’re so mean to their sister. | Your Tamagotchi is over there!
- “Its” is for what belongs to it. “It’s” means “it + is.” >> My house is in the middle of the street; its door is red. | My house is in the middle of the street; it’s huge, too.
- TOUGHIE AHEAD!! “Affect” (n.) has to do with “feeling,” while “to affect” (v.) is how something impacts another something. Also, “effect” (n.) is a consequence, while “effect” (v.) means to make or bring about.” >> We want to explore the affective components of participants’ attitudes toward recycling. | Our doggie’s passing affected our whole family. | Our doggie’s passing had some odd effects on our family. | We sought to effect change in our company with the new rules.
- Lastly, “lay” is something you do to an object. “Lie” is something you do yourself. >> I’m laying my book on the table. | I want to lie on that recliner.
7. Two spaces after a period:
Are you writing your post on a typewriter? If not, avoid inserting that extra space after a period. That is old-fashioned and just looks odd.
So there you have all of my tips (until I come up w/new ones, of course)! NOW TELL ME: What did I miss or which do you think you should improve on?
PS- I also design and develop sites and blogs!! Let me know if you’d like me to work on yours.