Got 3 Mins? Here's How To Write for Skim Readers

Got 3 Mins? Here's How To Write for Skim Readers

There’s no guarantee anyone has actually read your content. The truth hurts, huh?

Regardless of how well-written or cleverly crafted your content may be, if nothing’s compelling a reader to engage with your content, there are no assurances that it’ll ever be read.

This means you need to command attention from the off. After all, first impressions count.

So, how do you do this successfully? You need to ensure your content is effortlessly consumable.

That’s why, today, we’re showing you how to optimise your approach to writing content for skim readers. This way, users can still take away the most valuable information regardless of whether they’ve read it from start to finish, or have simply scrolled through your post weary-eyed on their morning commute.

How to write for skim readers

Crafting content for skim readers requires you to follow three fundamental rules:

  • Get to the point - what’s the simplest and shortest way to say what you have to say?
  • Format for digestibility - can you lay out your content in a way that’s easy to read?
  • Be objective, not subjective - can you use facts and statements rather than beliefs and opinions?

Get to the point

Skimmable content should be succinct.

This means championing short and sweet over frills and fluff.

Some common mistakes to avoid when writing skimmable content include:

  • Relaying the same information twice - avoid saying the same thing repeatedly in different words
  • Overdosing on adjectives - sure, adjectives make your content sound beautiful, but are they adding any genuine value to what you’re saying?
  • Going into too much detail - know your audience’s level of existing knowledge on the topic to ensure you’re not repeating information they already know

In short? Don’t use 10 words when 5 will do.

Format for digestibility

A reader is likely to judge how digestible your content is at a glance.

This means ensuring that content is visually appealing from the off, rather than being text-heavy and overwhelming to look at.

Some effective ways to format for digestibility include:

  • Bullet points - bullet-pointed lists help you to present key information quickly and clearly
  • Bold - use bold formatting to highlight the text that needs to stand out. Think of your bold text as a skeleton of your article - readers should be able to understand the flow of your argument by reading only the bold text
  • Subheadings - use clear and concise headings and subheadings that immediately inform the reader of what’s being discussed
  • One-point paragraphs - avoid doing too much in one go. Keep paragraphs to a single point so skim readers are quickly able to grasp the contents of a paragraph

For added emphasis, standalone, one-sentence paragraphs can be effective in highlighting key information.

Be objective, not subjective

Online users are becoming increasingly aware of (and resistant to) buzzwords and fluff.

This means writing concisely isn’t just a matter of digestibility - it’s often key to engagement, too.

Not only do unbacked claims and exaggerated hyperbole act as red flags to consumers, but they also drive up your word count unnecessarily.

So, champion objectivity over subjectivity wherever possible.

Readers are quickly able to absorb facts and figures from a chunk of text. Opinions, arguments and subjective discussion? Not so much.

You might not tick every box…

It’s important to understand you’re unlikely to tick every box when writing content.

Ultimately, your content strategy should dictate the way you produce content - meaning subjective, long-form content is sometimes the name of the game.

And that’s OK. It’s all about making your content as skimmable as it can be.

That doesn’t mean turning your 2,000-word best-in-space industry review piece into a bullet-pointed list. It’s understanding how that type of content can be better optimised for skim-reading - such as through the use of contents tables and infographics, for example.

Skimmable content is an art form and, at Paragraft, we’ve perfected that art form. For short and sweet content creation that never sacrifices value, get in touch with our team of creative experts today.