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Writing for the Short-Attention Span Reader

short attention span

Capturing the attention of the online reader is a tremendous challenge which is only comparable to Charlie Brown and his science teacher.  Watch the video clip here to refresh your memory.

The fact is that no-matter how engaging your content is, it is unlikely that your reader will read it through to the end.  It is important to figure out how to communicate your message, using fewer words.

In a recent article on Copyblogger, “How to Write Copy for Short Attention Spans”, Sherice Jacobs explains how to do it:

  • Answer the reader’s question: ‘Whats-in-it-for-me?’ The quicker you can answer this question for your reader, the more likely they might read the next line, paragraph or page.
  • Break it up into small chunks: Online writing is different from print writing because most readers stumble upon your content inadvertently – (unlike a book or magazine where the reader purposefully purchases a copy and decides to invest the reading time). So be sure to write very short paragraphs, and leave lots of white space.
  • Text and visual enhancements: Text enhancements make it easier for your reader to find the information he/she is looking for: bullet points, headings and sub-headings, side-bars, captions and bold titles are all great ways to highlight key information.
  • Pictures and images:  Using images is an effective way to break up the text-to-text wall of information and give the reader’s eye something to rest upon.  Humorous pictures are especially effective as long as they are appropriately used with the right content.

These are easy ways to encourage your short-attention span reader to keep reading your content.  Remember that your on-line reader has too much information at his disposal and too little time to read it.  Your job is to make it easy for them to decide that yours is worth reading!



  1. […] readers are different from print readers because they have short attention spans. Most likely they have stumbled upon your content through search and they’re are in a hurry […]

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