By: Marilyn L. Davis
“We as authors sign a pact with our readers; they’ll go on reading because they trust us to play fair with them and deliver what we’ve promised.” ― Pamela Glass Kelly,
While I’m trying to play fair and deliver, I realize I have 15 seconds to get you to read this. Talk about pressure. Counting down, I imagine you scrolling, already, because you’re like the rest of us; we scroll to see if there is anything we can use, information we want, need or are interested in today. In order to get you to stay longer, I have to make sure that you’re interested as you’re scanning.
How can I do that? Subheadings
The Four Best Reasons to Use Subheadings
- We’re up there with goldfish when it comes to attention spans – about 8 seconds. Therefore, if we are not stimulating our readers with subheadings, we will lose them.
These are the alerts that let our readers know that the content that follows the subheading is about an aspect of the title, further definition of some component, or other new information that they might find helpful.
- Breaking up long text is essential for easier reading, as well as interesting those who are scanning a post to determine if it meets their needs.
Besides sub-headings, using lists to break up your content into manageable portions give readers shorter texts to digest, and it serves the same visual prompt as a subheading.
Your readers can quickly gauge if there are facts that they need or want by the way you write your subheading. Think of them as a kind of tour guide with the subheadings highlighting important places.
- What’s the point of your post? Sure, you’ve probably defined it in the title, but are you reinforcing it throughout your post? Subheadings do just that by emphasizing your message.
- Moving our readers from the first word to the last is the ultimate goal of any writer. When we give them a reason to keep reading, they will make it to the conclusion, and we can use subheadings to motivate them to reach the end of the post.
But don’t save your killer sentence and put it in the last paragraph. Make sure that you’ve added value, interest, and information in each section to get your readers to the conclusion.
SEO and Search Engines Like Subheadings, Too
Subheadings are also what search engines use to determine content. Rather than “keyword stuffing,” subheadings provide eye-relief as well as relevance to your readers. If these also notify a search engine of your topic and content, then your job is done without belaboring the point like too many do for SEO purposes.
If you’re using a WordPress site, you have the option of using headings 1-6 in your content. However, Heading 1’s should only be used for your title. There are also some visual considerations when using the formatted heading sizes.
I don’t like the obvious size difference in fonts when using Heading 2, so I tend to use Heading 3 and sometimes Heading 4 for my posts. Typically, Heading 3 is formatted to be a lighter shade of gray, and again, I don’t care for the aesthetics of that, so I have to change the font color to black. However, these are personal preferences. Some writers want the distinction, so leave the lighter color.
You can also define categories and subcategories using the formatted headings in WordPress:
State: Georgia – Heading 2
Capital: Atlanta – Heading 3
Suburbs – Heading 4
Cities – Heading 5
However you use subheadings, make sure they are consistent in formatting and color, so your post has a uniform look for your readers.
A Few Questions for our Readers
Two Drops of Ink is becoming the community of experts that we hoped it would be, and as such, I learn from readers, staff, and guest contributors’ posts and comments. So, I’d like to know:
- How do you use subheadings?
- Do you have a preference in style, font or color for your subheadings?
- Do you need to update your older post and use better subheadings?
- Are you ready to join an informative, engaged community of writers?
When you’re ready to contribute, please consider submitting.