Thursday, July 26, 2012

Write up my alley

OK, you have to excuse the lame pun as the post title, but it was what came to mind. I promised that I was going to talk more about writing on this blog, since it's one of my passions, so that's what today's post is about.

I don't consider myself an expert on blogging. If I were, I'd be one of those women who has thousands of followers and doesn't have a day job. But after four years of blogging and reading more blogs than I'd care to admit (let's just say that it takes me about an hour to get through all of the blogs I read every day), I feel like I can share the following tips with you if you're looking for ways to make your blog more readable and user-friendly. Take them with a grain of salt. Your blog should be personal and unique, like you are. These are just a few things I've found helpful.

Fonts need to be legible and can make or break your blog. This sounds like a no-brainer, but honestly, blogs that use a script font or cutesy scrapbooky font for their main body text are an instant turn-off for me. I love fun fonts just as much as the next girl, but if people can't read what you have to say, they're not going to keep reading your blog. Without getting too much into design principles, I will just recommend that you follow these guidelines with fonts:

1. Choose a sans serif font for your blog's body text. A little graphic design tutorial here: A serif is a stroke that extends from a letter. For example, Times New Roman is a serif font because the letters all have little platforms underneath them or above them. Arial is a sans serif font, as are Century Gothic (one of my personal favorites) and Helvetica. Why should you do this? Sans serif fonts are easier to read -- and if you plan on using a fun font as an accent, you need to have the contrast between the two for a pleasing design.

2. Use a maximum of three fonts on your blog. This sounds limiting, but honestly, it's not. You can take one font (Century Gothic, for example) and bold it, italicize it, enlarge it or shrink it and make it look different. When you have more than three fonts on your blog, it looks cluttered and distracts from the most important thing -- what you're writing. Also, only one of your fonts should be artsy. The trick is to use the bold font as an accent, not as the main font, so that it stands out.

3. Don't get too crazy with the colors. Pay attention to how the color of your text looks against your blog background. If you have a dark background, you need to have light text and vice versa. Neon-colored text is always hard to read, and white can look neon on a really bright blog background. When in doubt, stick with black and a lighter colored background. It's usually easier to read.

4. Strive for a happy medium in font size. Text that's too tiny is impossible to read, and paragraphs written in size 20 font are just obnoxious. The end.

5. Never use Comic Sans MS. This is just my rule. I absolutely detest that font -- and several others. But that is the main one. It just looks tacky and brings people back to 1994 in a bad way.

Break your text into bite-size paragraphs. When you're writing for the web, it's so important to keep your text in small chunks so that it's easy to read. A high school friend of mine (and aspiring writer) once wanted me to read his blog and give me his opinion on it, and I confess, I was only able to read one post of his. He didn't break his text into paragraphs at all, so it was impossible to keep your place. It felt like I was reading a stream of consciousness -- in the worst possible way. When in doubt, keep your paragraphs to no more than five sentences.

Always open links in a new tab. I cannot tell you how annoying it is when bloggers post a link but don't set it to open in a new tab or window. When you don't, it hurts you because a) it sends people away from your blog and makes it frustrating to try to navigate your way back and b) it doesn't allow people to finish reading your post.

Provide visual interest with pictures. This post is a bad example, since it doesn't have a picture, but your blog is always more appealing with at least one photo in it. Unless, of course, it's a crappy photo.

Just my two cents about blogging! What are your blog pet peeves?


  1. Thank you, thank you. I always wonder how I'm doing.
    Today I was re-reading my post and you couldn't see the period at the end of a sentence because of the font. Bugger.
    I'll try to step it up.

  2. Lindsay! You won the Taraphotographics giveaway on my blog! Send me an email for details!

  3. Totally agree. This brings me back to our newspaper/Visual Media days! :) I also hate it when I go to a blog and it has a million sidebars and pages and links. It's just plain overwhelming.

  4. Uh oh. As I read this I was frantically thinking about my own blog and hoping I didn't break any of your rules. All great things to keep in mind.

  5. Amen to the Comic Sans bashing, but now I've got to go check my blog and make sure I meet the requirements. Pretty sure I'm ok, but I may have a few links that don't open in new windows. :)


Thanks for sharing your beautiful thoughts! I love reading them.