When blogging, it pays dividends to lay out the structure of your piece before you begin writing. The structure is the skeleton of your text: it will help the reader grasp the core message of your article. And that enhances the readability of your article. This post gives you practical tips to help you set up a nice, clear text structure.
How to set up your text structure
Think before you start writing. Get a pen and paper and write down what you want to write about. That could include a bit of keyword research, but ideally, you’ll already have done that. Check out our ultimate guide to keyword research for more on this. Next, set up a text structure and keep it close to hand while writing your blog post. One way of setting up a structure for your text is by following these three steps:
Step 1: Create a list of topics
Once you have gathered all the information you want to use in your post or article, you can begin structuring, so make a list of everything you want your article to cover.
Step 2: Bundle topics together
When you have a clear overview of all the topics you want to discuss in your article, you can start bundling topics. Similar topics should, of course, be discussed together.
Step 3: Order your topics
When you are done bundling, you should decide on the order you want to present the topics in your article. In most cases you will decide to order thematically, for instance if you want to discuss various aspects or angles of the main topic of your blog. You should then discuss each aspect in a new paragraph.
Next, you need to arrange the order of topics according to theme, you could also order them chronologically or by explaining the basics first and going on to more difficult aspects – known as a didactic order. This is a good idea when you are trying to explain a complicated subject.
Table 1: Order type
|Thematic||ordered on theme, aspect, topic|
|Chronological||old to new|
|Didactic||easy to hard|
|Problem – solution(s)||introduce the problem first and then possible solutions|
After you have ordered the topics you want to address in your article, you should make a new list. This list is essentially a summary of the article you are about to write. Write a short sentence or a few words for every paragraph you plan to write. This list serves as the skeleton of your article, and you should keep it handy to refer to during the rest of the writing process.
You have bundled topics together in the text structure you have set up, so now you can start to write your paragraphs. But what makes a good paragraph? A paragraph can be defined by three things. Remember these things while writing!
- A paragraph should form a thematic unit.
- A paragraph contains one core sentence and an elaboration of this core sentence.
- Info should be made more visible by using whitespace.
Lots of people make mistakes while creating paragraphs. Some writers just put whitespace in their text in random places for aesthetic purposes but don’t think about the coherence and structure of the text. I also see a lot of paragraphs containing only one sentence. In many cases, the coherence within paragraphs and between paragraphs remains unclear. These kinds of mistakes can mess up the structure of your articles.
Paragraphs can be short or long. The length of a paragraph is decided by the theme you are discussing, so it could be anywhere between two and fifteen sentences. However, for writing on websites, we would advise creating short paragraphs (keep it to less than 6 or 7 sentences).
For text on websites, we would advise you to start your paragraph with the most important sentence, then explain or elaborate on it. A reader will be able to grasp the most important concepts from your article, just by reading the first sentences of your paragraphs. You can conclude longer paragraphs with a summarizing sentence to clarify your point.
Using transition words
To guide your reader, you should use plenty of transition words. Transition words (also known as signal words) give direction to your readers. These words show the reader that you are summarizing (e.g. and, too), comparing (e.g. less than, rather) or concluding something (e.g. thus, consequently, hence).
Table 2: examples of transition words
|Type of relation||Examples of transition words|
|enumerate||and, first of all, also, another, furthermore, finally, in addition|
|cause||because, so, due to, while, since, therefore|
|compare/contrast||same, less, rather, while, yet, opposite, much as, either|
|conclude||as a result, hence, consequently, therefore, in conclusion|
|ambiguity||seems like, maybe, probably, almost|
|emphasise||most of all, most noteworthy, especially relevant|
Using transition words is like putting cement between your sentences – they show your readers the connection between sentences and paragraphs.
If you are not used to using transition words, it can be hard to correct content you have already written. Be sure to use transition words whenever you are summarizing or enumerating. Also, using signal words in your conclusion helps people to grasp your core message.
Use headings to help your reader – and Google
Headings are crucial for good SEO. Google uses your headings to determine the topic of the content on your website, therefore your headings should be used to optimize your post. However, headings are of great importance to your readers as well. Headings allow your readers to quickly scan through your text and decide whether or not (or which parts of) they want to read your article. Therefore headings should be attractive and should cover the content of the paragraphs below.
You should put a heading above each paragraph, or above a series of paragraphs which contain similar topics. The headings should reflect the structure of your text. We advise you to put a heading above very long paragraphs, or above several shorter paragraphs which are thematically similar.
Setting up a coherent structure for your blog post will result in a better understanding of the message of your blog posts. If people understand your message, they will be much more likely to share your post on social media or buy what you are selling.
Taking the time to think about a clear text structure before you start writing is a very important first step. While writing, think about the structure of your paragraphs, your use of signal words and the headings in your post. If you follow these ‘rules’ your blog post will be far more understandable and readable to your audience, even if your writing style is lacking.
If you want to dive even deeper into the subject of copywriting, be sure to get our SEO copywriting course for more writing tips!