Readability: Smart Tips For Getting Your Content Read

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Over the holiday a family member told me that she got in trouble for using readability tactics – specifically bullet points – by her boss.

Apparently her boss thought that bullet points were “too aggressive” for the reader. It’s my view that her boss, who ironically works in the media space, has no idea how important readability is to content and email marketing.

What Is Readability?

According to Wikipedia, readability is:

“… the ease in which text can be read and understood. Various factors to measure readability have been used, such as “speed of perception,” “perceptibility at a distance,” “perceptibility in peripheral vision,” “visibility,” “the reflex blink technique,” “rate of work” (e.g., speed of reading), “eye movements,” and “fatigue in reading.”

Essentially readability helps the reader enjoy what is written; because let’s face it, if it’s hard to read, or long, or BORING we’re not going to bother trying to finish reading what’s in front of us.


Helpful Tools

  1. If you are using WordPress, WordPress SEO by Yoast will easily help you figure out your focus keywords for SEO ranking, as well as give you a score for your readability.
  2. If you’re not using WordPress, or just want to check your “ease of read” on any other documents you’re sending out, check out Here you can copy and paste your writing into an area and have it graded by 5 different scoring tests, as well as garner other text statistics.

You can also check out this article by Marketing Profs, which covers the Flesch-Kincaid Readability Scoring test in depth: Writing and Readability Scores: It Matters.

Helpful Readability Tips

If you want your content to be read, you have to realize this important stat:

[Tweet “STUDY: 79% of test users scanned any new page they came across; only 16 percent read word-by-word.”]

Source: Nielson Norman Group

Knowing that people SCAN, not READ, here’s what you need to do:

  • Use short paragraphs, with no more than 2 to 3 sentences in each
  • Use highlighted or bolded words for emphasis
  • Use bullet points, like we are with this list
  • Use numbered lists
  • Use sub headers showcasing the information you’re about to describe
  • Define difficult words or concepts by adding a link that offers more information
  • Break up large chunks of texts with visuals



Over To You

I’ve kept this post short and sweet in the hopes that you’ll read it ALL.

So, what about you? What helps you read (or scan) something in its entirety? Let me know in the comments section below.

See you in the social sphere!


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Brooke B. Sellas is the in-the-trenches Founder & CEO of @HelloBSquared, an award-winning social media, advertising, and social media customer care agency. She's also the author of Conversations That Connect -- a book all about social listening and social media customer care. Brooke's marketing mantra is “Think Conversation, Not Campaign” so be sure to give her a shout on the socials!
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