How to make your content readable
By Matilda Ekström and Freja Nilsson
You may have heard of something called readability. For anyone with a website, it's crucial to know about. In short, readability is a measure of how easy it is for a person to read and understand a text. But how can you ensure your content is readable? That's what we're here to explain!
Readability comes down to mainly two things: the content and the presentation of it. These two areas are dependent on one another, for better or worse. If the content has high readability, but the presentation of it does not, the overall readability will go down. All that work you put into creating the content will be (at least partly) wasted.
Let's break it down:
In the context of readability, content refers to the kind of words and sentences you use as well as how you structure your text. In short, it's about ensuring your audience easily understands what you're saying.
Use words your reader would use
We've all probably done it at some point — used a word like inconsequential instead of trivial to sound smarter. The truth, however, is that doing so has the exact opposite effect. Why? Because using long, complicated words make your text hard for the reader to process. This makes the reader view you negatively.1
So, the first rule of thumb when writing is to use simple, common words wherever possible. Avoid jargon, and always explain acronyms. Using words and terms that your audience searches for will also improve SEO.
Write simple sentences
Just as you should strive to use simple words, you should aim to write easy-to-digest sentences. This means making sure your sentence isn't too long and, of course, that it's grammatically correct. For instance, instead of writing "This article explains readability, which is an important topic to many businesses whose website is a vital part of their communication" you could write "This article explains readability. It's an important topic to many businesses with a corporate website". In other words, keep it short and sweet!
There are also several tools that you can use to test how readable your texts are, for example, WebFX's Readability Test. The test will give your text a readability score of 0-100 based on sentence length and the complexity of word choices.
Make your text scannable
Did you know that the majority of people scan rather than read digital content? As fellow copywriters, we really do feel the pain in this!
In addition to using simple words and sentences, it's vital to structure your text — whether it's an article, an investors page or a job listing.
The best way of doing so is to:
- Make use of informative headings and subheadings
- Provide a summary at the top of the page, especially on a text-heavy page
- List content into bullet-points
- Highlight numbers and keywords
- Ensure the page isn't too crowded (more on that below!)
Just as the word indicates, presentation is all about showcasing your content in a way that makes it easy to scan and understand. Let's dive in!
Use an appropriate font
Choosing the right font for your content is essential for the perceived readability of a text. The right font can make it easier for readers to comprehend the text and engage with it.
When selecting a font, you should consider factors such as size, line spacing, colour, and contrast. It's important to choose a font that is easy to read and has good legibility. Additionally, it should also be aesthetically pleasing so that readers don't get bored or confused when reading your content. Avoid using thin font weights and small font sizes.
Ensure sufficient colour contrast
Colour contrast is an important factor in increasing readability. It helps to make the text easier to read and understand, especially for people with visual impairments. The right combination of font, colour and contrast can help create a more accessible website for all users.
The colour contrast should be taken into consideration when selecting fonts and colours for a website. It's important to ensure that there is enough contrast between the text and the background so that the text can be easily read by everyone. Additionally, you should keep in mind that certain colours may impact people with different types of vision impairments (such as colour blindness) differently. Therefore, it's important to select a colour palette that works well with all types of vision impairments.
The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) recommend a minimum of four levels for colour contrast between text and background. It's also important to ensure that text placed over images or gradient backgrounds still has sufficient contrast.
Leave enough space
Another important aspect when ensuring readability is line spacing. It helps to make text easier to read and understand, especially for those with accessibility needs. Line spacing can also help to break up dense blocks of text, making it easier for readers to scan and find the information they're looking for. Proper line spacing can also make a text look more professional and aesthetically pleasing.
WCAG recommends using a line height/spacing that is at least 1.5 times the font size and the space between paragraphs to be at least two times the font size.
- Ensure your readers can easily understand and digest what you're saying. Use simple words and sentences.
- Make your text easy to scan by using informative headings and bullet points and by highlighting important numbers and keywords.
- Use a readable font with sufficient line spacing, colour, and contrast.
- Test the readability of your text before publishing.
- Try to sound smart by making your text overly complicated. Doing so will have the opposite effect!
- Make your pages too text heavy — keep your texts short and sweet.
- Use a small font with low contrast to the background. For example, white text shouldn't be placed on light image backgrounds.
How can we help?
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