That means that most of your online articles go unread.
However, there’s a way to get MORE of your writing read, and it’s got to do with the structure of your writing. Specifically, it’s about your paragraphs.
See, most writers have interesting ideas. But they can’t express these ideas in an engaging manner. They struggle in writing compelling paragraphs.
Now, if you want to deepen your bond with your readers, then the guide will help. Let’s begin at the beginning, shall we?
Table of Contents
What Is A Paragraph?
A typical paragraph consists of a bunch of ideas that are united by the main idea. The sentences are coherently connected, which means they follow a logical order that makes logical sense. You can choose these contributing sentences as you like depending on what you’re writing about – chronologically, on the basis of their relative importance, and the like.
How Many Sentences Are In A Paragraph?
You might have read that paragraphs are ideally a group of five sentences. Which leads to doubts like – “Can a paragraph be 3 sentences?” and “Is 10 sentences too long for a paragraph?”
Well, a paragraph is essentially constituted by its ideas. If there’s no unity and coherence in the contributing sentences, then it makes for a jarring reading experience. It’s more important to remember that a paragraph comprises of ONE major line of thought (or idea).
Now, next, you might get confused with the number of words in a paragraph, right? Let’s tackle that, then.
How Long Is A Paragraph?
If you’re practicing informal writing (like a blog post), then it makes sense to break down the information into easily digestible chunks. It calls for shorter paragraphs focusing solely on one idea. It’s okay to even use as little as one sentence or one-word paragraphs.
Indeed, if you vary your paragraph length, it adds rhythm to your writing. For longer articles, different paragraph sizes can break the monotony and keep the reader engaged.
So there’s no need to abide by the 100-200 words per paragraph rule (if you were taught so by your instructor in high school). Remember, a good paragraph need not be measured in terms of tangible parameters like number of sentences, number of words, and characters.
Ultimately, it’s all about expressing your ideas clearly, engagingly, and persuasively.
When To Start A New Paragraph?
When you’ve got a new idea or argument.
If you’ve got a complicated/extended idea, then it makes sense to use multiple paragraphs with one sub-idea per paragraph.
See how I didn’t mention the number of sentences and words it requires to make the shift? It’s all about expression and ideas. Ultimately, all of the groupings of sentences in your paragraph must have something in common.
Now that we have got the basics down, let’s revisit how to create a strong paragraph.
How To Develop A Strong Paragraph: 5 Simple Steps
The structure of your paragraph can loosely follow these steps.
Step 1: Brainstorm On Your Controlling Idea
For every paragraph you write, you have a central topic or idea to which all the other sentences are connected. Generally, the idea appears in the form of a topic sentence. For example, I’ve marked the topic sentence in the fourth paragraph from my article on content creator.
Step 2: Expand On Your Topic Sentence
Let me share a few topic sentence examples
Step 4: Elaborate How The Example Relates To The Idea
Step 5: Transition Smoothly Into A New Paragraph
How to end a paragraph
Complete the idea and
Alternatively, you can also approach the paragraph writing in the format of the topic-support-conclusion structure.
Note that you can and often should break the above guidelines of paragraph writing. In art, there are no rules and that’s kind of also the beauty of it.
5 Tips On Paragraph Writing For Online Content Creation
Let’s look at examples of compelling content creators and research on the reading habits of the web users to take cues for writing paragraphs.
1. Follow The Inverted Pyramid Style Of Writing
Users tend to spend the majority of their time above the fold. Further down the page, there is a sharp decrease in attention.
Well, that calls for putting your most important content above the fold.
To achieve the same, you can use the writing style that’s often used by journalists, called the inverted pyramid. Essentially, you break down the main subject of your article into ideas using paragraphs. In the inverted style, your first couple of paragraphs are the meaty bits. The next few paragraphs can consist of related information and supporting arguments.
Brian Dean, a renowned SEO influencer, begins his articles with compelling stats, his agenda of the article, and the benefits for the readers.
2. Always End Your Article With A Conclusion
Yes, most visitors scan content and pay attention above the fold. Yet, many studies have also found that people like scrolling and the bottom of the page gets a LOT of attention. Indeed, a marketing influencer, Neil Patel, had experimented with skipping writing a conclusion for his blog posts. And he found that a conclusion led people to scroll and affected the time on page.
Copywriter Andre conducted a survey and found that writing conclusion is one of the hardest things for writers.
I always follow a templated structure for my conclusion of articles, and it saves me mental space. Here’s what your concluding paragraphs can comprise of:
- Summarize the key ideas from your article,
- Encourage the user to take action,
- Ask the reader for engaging with the article and share it on social media.
Here’s an example of a Foundr article by me where I follow the above structure.
3. Experiment With Large Introductory Paragraphs
I remember my Pagemaker assignments where I was taught the use of drop cap. I thought it was a cool feature, but I never saw it being prominently used in modern writing tools.
Well, turns out that an introductory paragraph with a larger font size/boldface gets higher attention. Then, you can fancy using it.
Smashing Magazine does it with a sub-lead
Foundr also does the same with a lead.
4. Use Short Paragraphs Exclusively (If It Suits Your Audience)
Remember how I told you that users scan content online? Well, that results in an F-shaped reading pattern as shown by eye-tracking studies.
Now, you can either try to fight the behavior and use large walls of text because you feel your ideas and creativity are unparalleled in this world. Else, you can adapt your writing style as per the user behavior and serve short paragraphs to users that aid their scanning behavior.
There’s a larger potential of the second idea above to prove effective. Hence, choose wisely. Brian Dean now relies on one-sentence paragraphs alone for his massive guides. And they receive tremendous engagement and are read by millions of people.
5. Keep It Tight
The whole idea of a paragraph is to convey one point or one idea. So keep it simple by using supporting sentences that support a central idea. If you try too hard and stuff more than one idea into one paragraph, then your audience might shy away from reading it.
As the attention span of a reader keeps decreasing on the screen, you likely won’t get away by confusing your users.
In the same light, also don’t write multiple sentences that say the same idea. The addition of fluff only bores and annoys the readers.
Go Write A Scintillating Paragraph For Your Readers Now!
A paragraph can be five sentences. Three sentences. One Sentence. Heck, it could be even one word. It’s not about the number of sentences or words. Rather, it’s all about coherently uniting a group of ideas.
I have given you five tips and detailed the complete process for writing compelling paragraphs that get read. As long as you keep your paragraphs easy to read and understand for your audience, they pay attention to your writing.
Sure, paragraphs are a little nuance of writing, but you need to give them attention if you want to leave an impact on your readers.
Have you got any additional tips on paragraph writing? Let me know in the comments below.