Teach blog formatting techniques to students as part of a blogging unit. This knowledge will guide them when organizing the content of their post. It will also focus students’ thinking towards their audience and the purpose of their writing.
Blog formatting techniques can be used to hook the reader’s interest and draw their attention. You want students not only to think about what their audience wants to read, but also HOW the audience wants to read it. Blog readers want to get information FAST! Teach your students how to format a post to make it appealing to readers.
There are six tricks for formatting a blog post. Explicitly teach these techniques to students to improve their writing. The trick is to use numbers in the title, headings, highlighted words, bullet lists, numbered lists, and pictures.
1. Numbers in the Title
Numbers in the title is a valuable technique that students should often use when writing a blog post. Not only does it appeal to the audience, but it also provides a helpful framework for organizing ideas. Your students do not need to use a number in EVERY title for EVERY blog post they write. This overuse would eventually reduce reader interest. However, it is a formatting technique they need to know.
Numbers in the title trigger the reader’s attention and provides structure to the post. For example, the title 3 Secrets to Become a Successful Blogger is better than Secrets to Become a Successful Blogger. By including a number in the title, it shows the blogger has included only the most vital information. As well, the number lets a reader know the content in the post will be organized in a logical order that is easy to scan.
Encourage your students to follow these tips for using numbers in the title:
- Use a digit instead of a word. For example, 7 Easy Ways to Improve Your Blog is better than Seven Easy Ways to Improve Your Blog. The digit is faster to read and attracts attention.
- Small numbers are better than large numbers when giving advice. For example, 3 Tips to Become a Pro is better than 33 Tips to Become a Pro. The smaller number tells the reader you are sharing essential information and the post won’t waste their time.
- Large numbers are better than small numbers when sharing resources. For example, 25 Fun Online Games for Kids is better than 2 Fun Online Games for Kids. The larger number tells the reader that there is lots of value in the post and it is worth their time.
- Odd numbers are better than even numbers. For example, 5 Powerful Reasons to Use Odd Numbers is better than 6 Powerful Reasons to Use Odd Numbers. Odd numbers such as 3, 5, and 7 chunk information into groups that people can easily understand. The only exception to this tip is the number 10. Readers are attracted to this even number.
Headings organize a post by dividing the information into small chunks. The heading names identify the content of each section. Students are likely familiar with using headings when they write a report. This type of publication tends to have more text than a blog post. However, even if a blog post is short, encourage your students to include at least one or two headings. Not only does this technique improve readability for blog readers, it is also a useful organizational tool for bloggers.
Headings save blog readers time. Instead of reading every word in the post, they can choose to read the part that is most relevant. When teaching this formatting technique, have students practice writing concise, meaningful headings.
3. Highlighted Words
Highlighted words draw the reader’s attention to the most important content. It makes the text stand out on the page by using a different color or font style such as bold or italic. Highlighted words help a reader to scan a post to find essential information.
Teaching this technique is an excellent way to improve writing style. By choosing which text to format, students are encouraged to think about the main message or purpose of their writing. They must be able to highlight one or two sentences or phrases that capture the essence of the blog post. If a student cannot identify text to highlight, then they need to change their word choice to be concise and clear.
4. Bullet List
A bullet list displays content in short points. This formatting technique provides lots of information in a concise format, which saves the blog reader time. Instead of reading an entire paragraph, a list can be scanned for key details. This formatting technique is often discouraged from being used in school assignments such as reports, short stories, or essays. Typically, it is limited to the planning and organization stage of writing such as collecting research facts or grouping ideas.
It is a good idea to teach students how to effectively use bullet lists in a blog post as they might be reluctant to use this technique. A bullet list can be used in a blog post to:
- provide details
- outline features
- offer tips
To help your students, you may want to establish the guideline that no point should be more than one or two lines of text. Emphasize that each point should be brief. In addition, the text does not need to be a complete sentence.
5. Numbered List
A numbered list sequences information in a logical order. This formatting technique clearly organizes content, which makes it simple for a blog reader to follow. In addition, it is an excellent way for a blog writer to arrange a post into identifiable chunks.
Teach students when it is appropriate to use this formatting technique. If students used a number in the title, then they should also use a numbered heading to create consistency. As well, a numbered list can be used to outline how-to steps or rank items. For example,
a numbered list can be used to explain the top 3 reasons to use numbered lists:
Top 3 Reasons to Use Numbered Lists
- sequence information in a logical order
- provide a framework to organize content
- allow readers to quickly scan content
Pictures attract reader attention and provide instant knowledge about the topic of the post. A picture informs readers about the content. An image makes information easier to understand and more memorable. Images can be a photo, illustration, diagram, screenshot, map, graph, infographic, decorative quote, or animated gif.
When teaching this formatting technique, discuss copyright. Not all images are permitted by the copyright holder to be included into student blogs. Instruct your students on how to verify usage rights when using pictures taken from the Internet. Another option is to use original photos or images only in blog posts.
Blog Formatting Techniques and Your Students
Include a blogging unit into your language arts program. By explicitly teaching blog formatting techniques your students will focus their attention on their audience and the purpose of the blog post. Moreover, it will improve their writing style as they use their skills to phrase content concisely and clearly.