Are you okay? It gets better. Trust me.
My kids started back to school weeks ago. I live in the deep South. Folks do things differently down here…like say “We need to get together!” when they really mean “I’d rather eat a bag of hair than invite you over.”
But enough about me and my Mother in Law. (Winky face!)
Hey, you know what? I haven’t shared any good blogging tips in a while.
And since it’s Back to School season, let’s celebrate in style with a series of tips! But unlike July which was accidentally themed “Bad Smells Month,” I’m going to devote all my Just the Tip Tuesdays in September to better blogging.
Not that I’m an expert or anything, but I have learned a few things over the years that might be useful to some of you.
And now that I’m a professional editor, I’m seeing first-hand that even some seasoned bloggers are unaware of a few tips that can make their blogs even better, IMHO.
Even if you’re not a blogger, you can benefit from some of the tips I’m going to share this month because they can apply to writing and desktop publishing in general, social media, and using photos on the Internet. So, really, this series is not only for bloggers; all are welcome here.
So let’s get started, class. (Who brought me an apple?)
This week, we’ll be discussing one of my biggest online pet peeves: S P A C I N G
The Internet is a fickle place, my friends. My research indicates that you only have about 10 seconds to convince a new visitor to stick around and read your stuff.
If your blog is attractive enough to draw someone in and they start to read your writing, you don’t want to turn them off with a cluttered layout or spacing that hurts their eyes.
This next part might come as a shock to some of you, so brace yourselves:
In the world of computer-based word processing, you only need to put one space between sentences.
I know, I know…that is totally not what you learned in your 10th grade typing class. But that’s because typewriter characters are monospaced and most computer typefaces use proportional characters. Chances are, whoever taught you how to type was trained on an old-fashioned monospaced typewriter. And back then, two spaces after a period was the standard.
Well not anymore.
If you put two spaces after a period when you are typing with a proportional-width computer font, you are going to have big old gaps in between your sentences and it is going to be visually distracting to your readers.
You want your readers to be focused on nothing but your amazing writing, yes?
You put a lot of time and effort into things like word choice, grammar, and spelling, right? (Again, please say yes.)
So don’t sabotage all your hard work with a text layout that makes your beautiful writing difficult to read.
Don’t believe me?
Well here’s an example:
This is a well-spaced example paragraph. This is a well-spaced example paragraph. This is a well-spaced example paragraph. This is a well-spaced example paragraph. This is a well-spaced example paragraph. This is a well-spaced example paragraph.
This isn’t a well-spaced example paragraph. This isn’t a well-spaced example paragraph. This isn’t a well-spaced example paragraph. This isn’t a well-spaced example paragraph. This isn’t a well-spaced example paragraph. This isn’t a well-spaced example paragraph.
Good God! MY EYES! Make it stop!
See how herky-jerky that second paragraph is? See how a “river” of interrupting white space is formed down the middle of the three lines? Yuck!
Don’t do that to your readers, m’kay? You love them! You need them! Treat them and their tender eyeballs with some respect, for crying out loud.
But it’s not just your readers you need to worry about, oh no. There are editors, sponsors, and potential investors and decision makers out there who are going to judge some of your worth based on your mastery of the technical side of blogging.
Let’s say you’ve been asked to write a guest post somewhere fabulous like, oh I don’t know, I’ll just randomly pick a site like In The Powder Room, for example. If you turn in your guest post with two spaces after each period, your poor editor is going to have to go through and manually delete one of those extra spaces after each and every mother-loving period. And if she has to do that when she is in a shitty mood because her 5-year-old just came home from school with Enterovirus and is puking and crapping all over the house? She might not really want to promote you from guest blogger to staff writer the next time there’s an opening. Maybe it will be easier for her to just hire someone a little more low-maintenance. Hypothetically speaking, of course!
I know this is a hard habit to break, but trust me, it’s worth it. Your posts will be easier to read and you will look like a more professional writer if you can retrain yourself to put just one space after every period.
For more great desktop publishing tips, I highly recommend the book The PC is Not a Typewriter by Robin Williams. (No, not that Robin Williams, although I’m sure his version would be a lot funnier.) There’s also a Mac version. I’ve had this book for years and it has taught me so much about professional typesetting and desktop publishing in general. It’s very easy to read and not too techie.
I hope this is helpful to you. You have my blessing to Pin it and share it with other bloggers who might benefit from making their work look more professional. Next week I’m going to share some of my favorite Twitter tips. If you’re on Twitter, you won’t want to miss it! See you then.
Sincerely and with appropriate spacing,