Writing is effective only if it connects with the reader. To make that connection you need more than good, clean prose—you need smart presentation, too.

The presentation of a piece of content includes everything from length to formatting to design. It can help your message connect—or it can get in the way. Smart presentation is especially critical on the web, where readers are quick to abandon content that makes them do extra work.

Ask the following questions to help yourself find the right presentation for your content:

  • Does the length serve the subject and the reader? For example, does the reader really want a 1,200-word article, or would she more easily digest a series of shorter pieces?
  • How will it feel to scroll through the text? Would shorter paragraphs feel more inviting? Would breaking up sections with subheads help keep readers interested and oriented? Would bullets deliver key messages in a more concise and scannable way?
  • Where could visuals replace words? You may be able to make your points faster, more clearly and more powerfully using images rather than copy.

Try asking these questions during your next writing project.