How To Write Articles – The Importance of Layout

What’s layout?

Layout in writing is how you set out your text.

Why is layout important?

We’re a very visual society and are influenced by the way things look more deeply than we realise. Image is all in many contexts. Whether that’s good or bad can be argued but in writing anything, it has to be taken into account. How you arrange your words will affect the way people read it.

What are the fundamental elements of effective layout?

1. Clarity.

Just as the words you choose should be clear in meaning so should the way you arrange them. Simple sentences, short paragraphs and important points emphasised in the text.

2. White space.

If you look at much business writing, particularly book, the trend in recent years has to break down sections, have short chapters and a lot of white space.

The purpose of white space is to encourage people to read the words. If text is crammed together then it becomes a struggle for many readers. Remember that the average ability to read is low and online this is make more difficult by text being on screen.

The move towards reading on smaller screens such as mobiles or iPads can only increase the difficulty of reading.. long passages are unlikely to work via such delivery methods.

A way of check if you have enough white space in your text is to go to Preview in Word and take it down to 75% view. That shows you where the text is crowded without you worrying at that stage about what you’ve written.

3. Progression

The logic of what you write is important. Making readers go back and check what they’ve read previously because you refer to it again doesn’t help them read naturally.

Whatever you write, they should be able to go from beginning to end without being stopped in their tracks. Imagine you’re travelling on a straight road. You’re making smooth progress then suddenly an obstacle is dropped in front of you.

That’s how badly arranged text can seem to the reader.

, Eileen Parr ,