Finetuning – Question 3

I got sidetracked this week on a couple of projects. I am going to keep running the Finetuning questions into next week. I hope you’ll keep adding your thoughts.

Today I want to talk about the length of an entry. I can very quickly say there is no minimum. I have used only a couple words and a link make an entry. It doesn’t add a lot to the discussion, but sometimes that is OK.

The more interesting discussion is about the maximum. A year ago, I would have said that you don’t want an entry to run longer than four or five paragraphs. I think that has changed. Readers are more tolerant of longer posts with interesting ideas. When I say longer, I am thinking of 10 paragraphs.

I think there is still a maximum. I wouldn’t recommend writing 30 paragraphs in a single entry. I think the reader will leave you and click on to something else.


Today’s question is: How long is too long for a blog entry? Use paragraphs as your unit of measure.

5 thoughts on “Finetuning – Question 3

  1. I struggle with the length of the paragraph. Long blocks of text discourage readability more than long posts.

    Also, if a post gets long, I try to break it up with bullet points or bold text.

  2. As a general rule, I prefer shorter, pithier posts. Get to the main point, link to the inspiration (if there is one) and to Dave’s point above, use bullets to break things up.

    When I encounter longer posts, I find myself scanning the first line of each paragraph for the context of that paragraph and I make a split-second (almost subconscious) decision on how much more to read. With most of us monitoring so many blogs, I think that for the most part, shorter posts are better.

    To answer your specific question, I’d say keep it to three paragraphs (on average).

  3. Mine are way too long and serve as an excellent example of what not to do 😉

    “I made this letter longer than usual because I lack the time to make it short.” – Blaise Pascal

    “It usually takes me more than three weeks to prepare a good impromptu speech.” -Mark Twain

    It’s laziness – it takes me much longer to pare down. A writing friend says, “Every word must audition for the page.” Of course, she is speaking about professional writing – 5-10 rewrites and not journal-writing, blogs, etc. But it’s a good point to keep in mind.

    I will be cutting down because I know how much I myself ‘skim’ in my own online reading.

    Exception: If it’s a STORY. I don’t care how long a story is if it pulls me in. So with a hook and story format longer posts do work. There are topics I do want to have more “runway” for and I will probably crank out some thought-out (relative to blog entries) manifestos to balance out the shorter postings.

    Hate to say there is a specific X or Y length – partly matter of author’s style and voice. But gauge your own reading of other’s posts and notice when you get weary…

  4. To be honest this comes down to different types of content. There are “pointers” (look at this!), “thoughts” (I read this and …) and full blown “articles” or “concepts”.

    The first 2, yeah, 3 paragraphs and go. The next 2 though? Well, you could easily be within the 1000-5000 word range pretty quickly.

    Sure, break it up, make it readable, etc.

    But as far as length? In general I’d say no more than 1000 words for your “average” post, but on occasion you will have something longer to say. So say it.

  5. I tend to write longer posts, with about ten to twelve shorter paragraphs. It’s much easier for the reader to focus, and read a longer entry, if the paragraphs are short.

    I try not to exceed three sentences in each paragraph, to break up the copy as much as possible.

    Sometimes, I like to write almost feature length articles, of about 1000 words. They are read as frequently as my (relatively) shorter posts that point links to another blog.

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