If I stop reading a blog post, below-the-line comment or book review online, the chances are it’s because the text has no paragraphs.
Using short, clear paragraphs is one of the simplest things you can do to make your writing more attractive and legible – especially if it’s likely to be read on a screen.
“Don’t be afraid to use ultra-short paragraphs”
Another benefit of using short paragraphs is that they make it easier to refine a narrative. If you stick to the rule of having one main topic in each paragraph, then it’s easy to spot when an idea’s in the wrong place (or perhaps doesn’t need to be there at all).
And don’t be afraid to use ultra-short paragraphs. They are a good way of emphasising key points in your text.
Beyond legibility and narrative clarity, paragraphs have expressive potential too – and much of that expressiveness lies in the white spaces between them.
“Physical gaps in the text give the reader mental space to absorb and reflect on the previous idea”
These physical gaps in the text give the reader mental space to absorb and reflect on the previous idea. They also allow writers to suggest things that they don’t want to write explicitly (just as a pause or total silence does in a conversation).
So whether you’re writing a quick email, a monthly report, a proposal or a press release, take care with your paragraphs. And if you are prone to using long ones, start to make friends with your return key.