Think of them as mini headlines – lyrical ensembles – the eye candy of prose. They’re called bullets. And these handy weapons, which are available in the arsenal of every writer, not only give a logical order to your thoughts, they also work to make your physical content easy on the eyes and much less intimidating for your readers. Unfortunately, their benefits are often underestimated – even overlooked – in an era where instantaneous connections are being forged and the need for speed has never been greater.
Web writing has, with few exceptions, put an end to the days of long-winded, verbose content, and has ushered in an era of quick, concise pieces you can read on the fly, while still reaping the benefits of the information gathered. So, how can these little black dots help transform your copy from good to great and help you draw readers in? Here are some easy-to-follow bullet point basics that can help make your content pop from the page:
Treat them like mini-headlines
Bulleted content should be introduced with short, catchy phrasing that draws the eye of the reader quickly. They not only tell the reader what each section is about, they’re like bookmarks that make it easy for them to scan the entire piece and return later for more information. For example, if you’re writing about the “Best Exercises for Toning your Abs,” a bullet may look something like this:
- The sneaky side crunch: A deceptively difficult move that not only tests your balance, it also torments your oblique muscles in a cruel-to-be-kind manner that will leave you bikini-ready in no time.
Be consistent. Don’t make one bullet point three sentences in length and then make others six or eight sentences long. Keeping the look similar across each section will visually enhance your blog, article, or on-page content while making it more inviting to the reader.
Avoid a barrage of bullets
The idea here is to make your content easier to navigate, not more complicated. Using too many bulleted lists within one article (more than two, as a general rule) or using sub-bullets (or sub-sub bullets) will make your content look confusing, which will only turn off your reader.
Keep the flow
Use a parallel structure when creating your bullet points. In other words, stay consistent grammatically with the wording you use to introduce your bulleted list. Here’s an example of what not to do:
How can you stop snoring, improve your health, and get a better night’s rest? Begin by:
- Sleeping on your side
- Get rid of allergens
- Improving your sleep habits
Begin by “get rid of allergens”? That’s just not right. The middle bullet should read, “Getting rid of allergens.” Keeping it consistent will help improve your writing style and readability, and will keep you from looking like you don’t understand basic English grammar.
Slip in keywords
Bulleted content is the perfect place to add high-value keyword phrases to your piece. Search engines tend to give bulleted lists a little more clout, because they think the content has higher importance. Throw some targeted keywords in there and you may help improve your visibility.
One important parting note: bullets cannot save bad content. A bulleted list is only as good as the subject matter you’re writing about (and the writer who’s constructing them). So, as always, be sure to entice your readers with compelling and relatable content that portrays you as an authority on your respective topic and drives your readers to take action. Do that, and bullets may be just the weapon you need to keep your content from biting the dust.
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