Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Here's some important advice—from a pro—for all you amateur writers who want your FB posts and messages to be read.

I majored in journalism in college and have been writing professionally for 48 years. I have no intention of trying to teach you to become a pro and won't deal with grammar, sentence structure or plot development. I won't tell you how to publish a book or sell a movie script.

I want to pass on two very basic bits that relate to the _physical appearance_ of text ...that apply to everything from Facebook and Twitter posts to a 600-page novel.

(1) Break up your text into paragraphs of one to four sentences, separated with blank lines (online) on with blanks or indents (on paper).

Every day I see—and ignore—FB posts and personal messages with one loooooooooooong paragraph. This structure creates an uninviting, impenetrable gray wall. Human eyes and brains need occasional rest stops.

(2) DO NOT TYPE IN ALL-CAPS ("UPPERCASE"), for two important reasons:

(2a) In the online world, limited use of all-caps is good for emphasis, but LOTS OF IT IMPLIES SHOUTING. If you are not pissed off, use a normal mix of uppercase and lowercase letters.

(2b) ALL-CAPS are harder to read and take longer to read than a normal mix of letter heights. We read by recognizing the shapes of words, not just by analyzing the sequence of individual letters. A word with only UPPERCASE LETTERS looks like a block—not a word—barely distinguishable from another block.

Several people have stated that they have vision problems and all-caps are easier to read because the words are "bigger."

That's a lame excuse!

All-cap words are _not_ bigger. The letters have uniform height, but the maximum height is unchanged. The use of all-caps online is unnecessary, unproductive and antisocial.

Even if the process somehow does help you to read your own words, it does nothing to help you to read the billions of words written by others.

There is a simple and no-cost solution. Your computer, phone, tablet, e-reader and web browser should allow you to easily increase text size. I normally use 125% or 133%.
Try it—even if you are merely "of a certain age" and don't have vision trouble.

If you find this useful, please share it.

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