We already know some of our friends and family members are not interested in what we write, but in the lesson Bloggers Flunk The Reading Assignments, many who commented admitted they’re not reading every word of our blog posts, either.

Yes, it’s true, our visitors may be skimming/scanning our content.

As disheartening as this is, it appears to be an inevitable part of blogging.

Today’s Lesson

Knowing our posts are not being read in their entirety can make some bloggers angry, but we have to ask ourselves, “is getting upset the best solution?”.

Probably not.

So, what can we do?

  1. Break a long article into shorter posts and create a series – to decrease reading time and then hope our readers come back for each installment
  2. Hide the key points in the text and make our readers WORK for it – and then ask “trick” questions at the end to (try to) force our readers to go back and read our content
  3. Show bold bullet points – so our readers CAN easily scan our work?
  4. Only post short, concise posts – to avoid scanning
  5. Accept the fact readers will skim our work – and continue doing what we’re doing
  6. Ask questions at the end of our posts that pertain to the article – but word them in a way the visitor doesn’t have to read every word in order to “get the answer right”.
  7. Get angry, decide not to share our knowledge – and quit blogging.

Knowing scanning/skimming of posts happens quite frequently, my solution has been to use strong bullet points and then word my questions (assignments) in a way that it’s not always necessary for a visitor to have read my posts in order to answer the questions.

What about you?

Today’s Assignment

Did you know your visitors may be scanning your posts?

If so, how does that make you feel?

What method do you use to allow for scanning of your work?  Or do you?

Raise your hand and share your answer.

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Look Who's Talking
  1. Did you know your visitors may be scanning your posts?


    If so, how does that make you feel?


    What method do you use to allow for scanning of your work? Or do you?

    I don’t really worry too much about it

  2. I’m aware that readers may be scanning my content. For the most part, I’m ok with it (I mean, I do it too ya know so expect others might do the same).

    What I do to try and help people who scan through my content is focus on writing shorter, more concise posts. I have a thought, I make a point, or I make a list to ensure ease of readability.

    Ricardo Bueno´s last blog post..Selective Twitter Status Now Works for Facebook Pages!

  3. I don’t really have many comments to deal with but from reading comments on popular blogs I can see quite a lot of readers are skimming (barely). I suppose there will be a day here and there when readers are too busy to read thoroughly and that’s okay. But to only skim all the time is perhaps disrespectful to the writer (isn’t blogging supposed to be all about relationship?). I must point out I’m learning there’s a certain ruthlessness in blogging that I’ll have to get used to (over time) (make that over a long time) (actually maybe never?).

    I don’t have a method but keeping it simple, clear and not too long would be sensible.

    I enjoyed reading this post.

    Paisley (Paisley Thoughts)´s last blog post..I Started Out In Web Writing Sweatshops

  4. I do short and sweet blogs for the most part, with pictures in almost every post except market reports. And I spend a good bit of time on Twitter!

    Susie Blackmon´s last blog post..Happy Mother’s Day.

  5. SamarNo Gravatar says:

    Did you know your visitors may be scanning your posts?

    Yes I know and I’m ok with it. I do the same. The easier we make it for our readers to scan our post, the better. We have to respect that they’re overloaded with information and can only spare a few seconds.

    My advice? Make your first paragraph irresistable. Then either break your post in series, or put up sub headings. Readers will read the sub heading of their interest and respond to that.

    The only blog I read word by word are Men With Pens. They know how to mix information with fun to hook the reader to read every word. If you take a look at their comments section, you’ll realize that other visitors read the whole post too – and James/Harry/Taylor reads and responds to every word his readers post in the comment.

    If so, how does that make you feel?

    I’ll be honest. It made me feel insignificant. Lately, it has made me feel creative. I’m challenging myself to come up with killer openings to my blog posts and in my unknown blog, I’ve seen an increase in participation.

    What method do you use to allow for scanning of your work? Or do you?

    I’ve started using two above mentioned methods.

    Opening paragraph (keep it short) and sub heading. Headines would work too but I’m not too good with them so that’s an area I have kinda ignored.

    Samar´s last blog post..6 Occupational health hazards of freelancing

  6. Kelvin KaoNo Gravatar says:

    I usually don’t think about whether a reader will be scanning a post or not. The only exception is when a post is really really long. In that case, I make it more scan-able… so it’s easier for me to write and proofread.

    I don’t care if people scan my posts. I scan many blog posts too, and I think it’s quite natural. These are kind of blogs that I scan:
    1. Some blogs updates so many times a day (such as LifeHacker) and I don’t care about every topic they have, so I scan them until I find one I care for reading word for word.
    2. Some blogs I have already been reading for a long time (such as ProBlogger), and most of what they discuss I either already know or I don’t care enough to know. There are many sites that I read word-for-word when I first started reading, but only scan after a while.

    But for some blogs that I really like, I will read word for word even if it’s not a topic I am interested in. One thing though: If I am going to comment on a post, I make sure that I read every word. Sometimes what I want to say might have already been covered, and sometimes a post is not what it seems during scanning, so I won’t comment unless I actually took time to read every word.

    Kelvin Kao´s last blog post..1000 Tweets!

  7. Chase MarchNo Gravatar says:

    Build relationships and trust. That’s key. I don’t scan your blog Barbara because I know what you write is worthwhile. You’ve built that trust with me, as I am sure you have with other readers.

    I think all bloggers need to write concise and succinct entries so people won’t feel they need to scan it.

    I think bold sections actually encourage skimming, so I don’t use bold unless I really want to make a point.

    Readers will always skim until they get to know you and the type of content you produce. That’s a given. So I think we just need to write from our hearts, keep it concise, and develop a style that is all our own.

    That’s my two cents.

    Chase March´s last blog post..I Can’t Watch (Again!)

  8. Yes I’m aware of scanning and that’s a good thing. At least they care enough to scan. Sometime when I’m faced with a very long post I decided not even to scan it.

    I love brevity. Just make your point please and you have me as a reader. I don’t need to hear the same thing put in three different ways.

    Also I think that list posts deserve to be scanned. They are begging for us to select one of the ten points and comment on it.

    Scanning is no big deal. Good writing can still hook a reader.

    Tom Volkar / Delightful Work´s last blog post..Your Best Career Is Beyond Your Comfort Zone

  9. Mike GoadNo Gravatar says:

    I don’t mind people scanning my posts. I often do that myself, stopping to read when I see something that interests me.

    The lesson for me is that I need to continue to try making my posts diverse, fairly brief and, hopefully interesting to others.

    Naturally, as we are traveling, my time to scan and read posts is much more limited than normal since our internet access is quite limited.

    I plan to make another short trip before we hit the road in about an hour.

    Mike Goad´s last blog post..Traveling in Tennessee, Virginia and Wednesday Weigh In

  10. Writer DadNo Gravatar says:

    I had a hard time with this at first. Not anymore. I understand it and it’s par for the course. My solution has been to write more scannable content for all my sites except Writer Dad. A large percentage of the Writer Dad audience are not bloggers. They read every word and so it is easy enough to write for them.

    Writer Dad´s last blog post..Serial and Milk: Available Darkness – Chapter 3

  11. A visit is a visit. Visitors to my home walk right past the tiny blossoms nestled in the garden steps. Some may stop to look and remark, and I enjoy them. But all are welcome. If what I do is worthy, they’ll linger and notice more. I just don’t worry about it and plant anyway.

    Betsy Wuebker´s last blog post..MORNING IN PHILADELPHIA

  12. LindaNo Gravatar says:

    Yes our visitors scan our blogs. You can tell by some of the comments that they did not read the whole post or missed a certain part. Try not to embarass them with the answer and press on. It is not an issue for me. 🙂

    Linda´s last blog post..A Green Friendly Innovative Dwelling

  13. I recognize this is reality. My tactic is to write short posts and to use bullets.

    Stacey / Create a Balance´s last blog post..Authentic Happiness Series – Part Four (Career)

  14. Chania GirlNo Gravatar says:

    I’ve realized this because I’m guilty of it. Not all the time. But if it is a long read (and especially if it is not bulleted) I follow a trick I teach my EFL students, to read the opening and closing paragraphs and then the first and last lines of each paragraph in between. This usually gives me a good idea of what the post is about and tells me if I want to read the blog in-depth (every word) or can comment meaningfully without betraying the spirit of the post.

    For my own blog, I try to avoid overly long posts. And if they must be done, I do try to break things down, use short paragraphs, bullet points, photos, etc. One of the things I learned in my years of the business world is when people just see text, text, text – they’re not going to read it.

    If I can, I also try to read back through each post I do before I post it to remove any extraneous detail. No redundancy. Say it once. Say it well. Sometimes I succeed. Sometimes I don’t. (Like in this comment). 🙂

    Chania Girl´s last blog post..Happiness 101

  15. I’ll admit it. I scanned this post. I don’t know if it’s right or wrong to scan posts, but I want to “read” a lot of different blogs in a day and I have a million things to do (my blog, my novel, my job, my volunteer work, etc…) so it’s great when I can easily read a blog quickly. That being said, if I find a post that I really like (like this one!) I will come back to it later and read it in more detail. As for my own blog, I don’t mind if people aren’t reading every single word. I realize that’s just how it is with blogging, but this post made me realize that I do need to work on making it easier for my readers. I love to write long, wordy paragraphs that may not be ideal for a blog setting. Something to think about!

    Positively Present´s last blog post..the power of adversity: a book review

  16. CarolineNo Gravatar says:

    Shhhhhh….don’t tell anyone, but sometimes I scan!

    Here’s the thing…I read so many blogs! If the post is super long, I go for the key points. Actually, I do that with a lot of books I read…lol.

    I figured most people scan and that is why I keep my posts fairly short and to the point. I try to keep my posts to 4 paragraphs or less (occasionally they are longer, like my post today). Honestly, I think my readers appreciate that too. Think about all the blogs you read daily…

    Caroline´s last blog post..Going back to our roots

  17. How can I get upset about others skimming my posts when I do the same?


    Vered – MomGrind´s last blog post..Happy Mother’s Day To The Moms Who Blog

  18. kgirlNo Gravatar says:

    I sometimes skim a post for a point/anecdote that occured in the middle, so that when I comment, it looks like I must have read the entire thing. I figure others are doing it to me as well. I like to stay on top of my favourite blogs, but you know, don’t always have the time to give every post the attention it deserves.

    kgirl´s last blog post..Four for Four

  19. This is an important reminder for me, because I tend to write longer-than-average posts, and expect people to read them like they would a book chapter.

    I’ve come to terms with the skimming reality, though, and I’ve decided my storytelling approach and writing style just aren’t conducive to really short posts. I just need to keep trimming as much as possible, highlighting important points, and trying some of the other techniques you mention. Thanks, Barbara!

    Kristin T. (@kt_writes)´s last blog post..Is social media stifling & self-absorbed?

  20. As a mom blogger, I’m okay with being scanned, since my writing is for me – my online journal, to some degree.

    To make my posts an easy scan, I frequently bold main points and bullet when I’m able to do so – especially since I go back to find details on my blog and don’t want to read through all of my old posts, either.

    Since most of us scan book/magazine/newspaper pages when we read them (at least I do, as do many of my friends), I never expected someone would read every word of my posts. Except my grandma and mom. Because they love me and that is what they do. 😉

    RC – Rambling Along…´s last blog post..Mommy’s Day 2009

  21. CarlaNo Gravatar says:

    This is one reason why I started working on shortening my posts. That is a win-win situation because not only do my readers have less to read, but that drives me to post more often.

    Carla´s last blog post..Giveaway: Twist cleaning products

  22. DotNo Gravatar says:

    Skimming is a reading skill. We all use it when we’re not interested in the level of detail the writer has included. I don’t worry about that any more than I worry about readers who move their lips. 😉

    Dot´s last blog post..April Showers and May Flowers

  23. Given that I scan posts all the time – I don’t have time to thoroughly read every blog – I’m certain people do the same for my blog.

    And that’s why I tend to write short articles that focus on one major point and usually include a Someday Lesson at the top to give people an idea of what the post is about.

    Alex Fayle | Someday Syndrome´s last blog post..Creativity & Paying the Bills: Dave Rhodes Interview

  24. I have a bit of a hard time with this – if I comment, then I have read the entire post. If I don’t have time to read the entire thing, I don’t comment.

    I also know that I ramble on sometimes on my own posts – I have a habit of describing the thought process that got me to the solution I’m writing about. Someone complained about it recently so I’ve made the concession of adding headers. And I write lists.

    But, I don’t expect people to read the entire thing …

    Kim Woodbridge´s last blog post..10 Things I Learned My First Week Freelancing

  25. JoshNo Gravatar says:

    That’s one of the big lessons I’m learning, make your content scannable with headings, bold words and list or else it won’t get read/scanned.

    It’s not really disheartening, as blogging is not about sharing a book with your readers but sharing quick updates.

    Josh´s last blog post..Mother’s Day Marathon

  26. PatriciaNo Gravatar says:

    I have always known about scanning material and on one blog I know that my readers never comment, but the stats show that a fair number of people are dropping by – especially when it is mostly pictures or referrals.

    On my writing blog I have a very hard time to get to below 500 words and share what I am hoping will inspire? From my writing contests rules…I see that the vast majority of folks have not seen that there are 5 writing contests with 5 prizes and that is does not have to be their personal story – it is about writing…so I try to bullet and list to make more clarity.

    I find myself laughing a great deal…I need the laughter!

    Patricia´s last blog post..I Love Flowers

  27. I think everyone scans. If we didn’t we’d read a lot fewer posts.
    I agree with 3, 4, 5 and 6.

    There are blogs that I read and soak up every word, like Liara Coverts and Julie Riddle.

    I’m for making them short, concise and unforgettable!

    Tess The Bold Life´s last blog post..Monday Magic Freebie Cheryl Richardson’s New Book

  28. RibbonNo Gravatar says:

    When I first entered the blogging world and began to view and comment on other blogs I quickly became aware that people were scanning posts by the comments they were leaving.
    Sometimes I wondered if we were reading the same post.

    This is the nature of blogging and very early in the piece I recognised that viewing blogs is like flicking through magazines.

    Does this bother?….. absolutely not………. I enjoy the challenges.

    best wishes always

  29. Evelyn LimNo Gravatar says:

    I laughed when I read your post….oh yes…I scanned it through as well! That’s why I am moving towards shorter than my previously long posts. Readers are all having time crunches. They don’t just read one blog. Also, I’ve found out that my target audience has hardly have the time to read posts that are published more than twice a week. I also don’t believe that I’d have any reader who would hang on to every word that I say. To believe that, I’d be saying that I am some kind of guru. Which I am not.

    However, I think what helps is to give a general theme or flavor to who is behind the blog. If the reader is looking to hire a blog consultant or life coach, the style and personality of the blogger can be a good indication if he or she is suitable or not.

    Then again, I’d say that there can be one or two articles that really speak to a group of readers. It happens when the articles match their search and at the right time. For those type of articles, the readers hang on to every word.

    Evelyn Lim´s last blog post..What Do You See if You Are Standing Next to God?

  30. Dennis EdellNo Gravatar says:

    Scan my posts all ya like…ask a question that was clearly answered in a part you missed and I’m gonna let ya know it. Depending on my mood, you may REALLY wish you didn’t skim so loosely. 😉

    Seriously, I write the way I write short or longf and wok hard to provide. 🙂

    Dennis Edell´s last blog post..How Do YOU Define Success?

  31. LanceNo Gravatar says:

    Hmm….good question Barbara. I “try” to write shorter posts, to keep the reader hopefully interested. And use white space, bolding, italics, bullets as necessary to highlight key points. I’m fine with scanning, and on the other, I also want to make it as user-friendly for the reader as possible.

    All that said, what do I do? It depends. It depends on the author I’m reading, the length, time, am I tired, and is the topic deeply interesting. For instance, there are some writers in which I’ll always read their every word – because I respect them deeply for what they do. On the other hand, others I’ll skim because of time typically….

    Lance´s last blog post..As Close To Eden As You’ll Get

  32. […] places on the web, Blogging Without a Blog.  The post today was about how readers of your blog don’t really read it.  They scan, comment (hopefully) and move on.  I think there is quite a bit of truth to this. […]

  33. TracyNo Gravatar says:

    I’m pretty sure my visitors either scan my posts or in the case of the very long ones don’t read them at all. That’s fine, I know a lot of times the internet is the equivalent of flipping channels on the tv. I don’t expect even my most loyal readers to read every post, either.

    I deal with it by having a variety of post types. Some are full of pictures with little more than captions. Some are short, humorous pieces. Others are long and require attentive reading – these get fewer views and comments, but I enjoy doing them. As my blog is strictly for entertainment, I feel less obligated to deliver my material in easy to digest bullet points every time.

    Heh – here’s my high school memoirs series in bullet points:
    1. In high school I had a friend and a boyfriend
    2. We had hijinks!
    3. I was that weird girl that wrote all the time and had depression issues.
    4. It all worked out okay!

    Doesn’t really work, does it?

    Like I said, it doesn’t really hurt my feelings, but I do feel it’s a challenge to find an audience that is looking for these sorts of longer pieces, a lot of the traditional ways to publicize a blog don’t work as well. One of my projects in the next month is to gather them into collections or series and have them showcased where somebody with a bit of time and the inclination can dive in and see what I have to offer. They are not time-sensitive, so my hope is that’s a good way to introduce new readers to the various facets of my blogging personality.

    And if they’d rather just come for pictures of canned chicken, well I’m more than happy for them to come just for that!

    Tracy´s last blog post..Where do all the millions of dead birds go?

  34. TracyNo Gravatar says:

    Wow, I should have made my comment easier to scan!

    Tracy´s last blog post..A couple of announcements and requests

  35. Did I know readers are “scanning?”

    Sure, because that is what I do myself. Too many blogs I love; not enough time to read them word-for-word.

    How do I feel about it?

    Perfectly ok.

    What am I doing about it?

    Writing shorter posts!

  36. TumblemooseNo Gravatar says:


    Hehe. I love this post. Really, I do. The comments tell me that folks are resonating with this issue. I read all the comments, too. Well, except for Tracy’s – I just scanned hers… Hehe. Jes kiddin’ T-dawg. You know I love ya!



    Tumblemoose´s last blog post..Grab your reader right away

  37. I scan sometimes… But the blogs I really love and feel I get a great deal out of, I do not scan.

    So, we have to be so good that we garner a lot of those kinds of readers (that don’t scan). But garnering those who do scan sometimes, is also good.

    Bamboo Forest – PunIntended´s last blog post..3 Awesome Ways to Spread Kindness to the World

  38. DavidNo Gravatar says:

    The first few times I got a post “Dugg”, I saw a huge spike in page hits, but no follow through. One article in particular was a brief summary of anothers blog post, yet less than 1% clicked through to read the article I was recommending. After that I decided the skimmers market was not my target. I wanted readers, not numbers.

    I’ve since found that commenting on related blogs draws people more inclined to read and subscribe. Slower numbers growth, but very solid. Serve a niche and you’ll get readers.

    I get skimmers still and thats fine. I skim a little myself looking for things sometimes. But I mostly focus on a few good ones.

    David´s last blog post..RoboScooter

  39. I scan… I was taught to. But often I back up and read for the story or the way language is used or for information I want. Bold lists make it easy to see if I want (or need) to read more.

    I scan blog comments as well. Today Becky’s stands out for me. She painted a picture I can see that relates to your post very well.

    I use bold or italics (and indent) to change things up a bit.

    I keep paragraphs short because that’s what I can scan most easily.

    I also use graphics — mostly my own — for visual interest. (Again because I like seeing them in other blogs.)

    I just want people to come over for coffee and enjoy a thought or two as they share their own. I don’t mind if they don’t devour…… I can often tell by comments when they haven’t. And that’s okay. I’ll eventually answer or restate it in my own comment back.

    Barb Hartsook´s last blog post..Why Does an Artist Paint? Or a Writer Write?

  40. I think every blogger at some point or another has skimmed. I think the root of the problem (if you call it that) is that many of the articles we read aren’t really what we’re looking for at that moment.

    We read, or skim, our community blogs because we’re a community. We don’t necessarily read our community blogs because that’s what we were researching.

    But in the end, you can’t really get into everyone’s head and everyone probably has their own reasons for skimming.

  41. Mike NicholsNo Gravatar says:

    My blog is a little different, in that it mostly consists of longer pieces on mental health issues that are fully researched and footnoted. Most of my traffic — over 70% — comes from people searching for an answer to a question. They may tend to read the posts a little more thoroughly than a “regular” blog post.

    Does it bother me that people may scan my blog posts? Definitely. I put a lot of effort into fully researching and clearly writing the posts, and I want people to be fully informed about the subject rather than just hitting the high points.

    That said, I have made many concessions to the scanners, such as:
    1. Writing very inviting leads that pull people into the article.
    2. Listing the headers of the post in that lead.
    3. Having as many bulleted and numbered lists as are consistent with the content.
    4. Breaking up the information into short sections, each with its own header.
    5. Using pullquotes for each section with the essential information in that header.
    6. Asking questions at the end and inviting comments.
    7. Breaking long posts up into shorter segments that I make into a series. But I find that people will read just the first segment and not the rest!

    I’m always looking for ways to get people to read the post fully, If anyone has a suggestion, I’m very open to it!

    Mike Nichols´s last blog post..5 Interesting Articles for You: Your Occasional Reader

  42. KramerNo Gravatar says:

    I am one of those people guilty in terms of scanning (but not all the time) it really depends on the article I am reading besides I don’t think we really need to read word by word.

    Kramer´s last blog post..Houston Rockets vs LA Lakers Game 5 Online Live Free Streaming

  43. Hmm, that’s interesting — I don’t feel particularly bothered by that possibility, unless people are reading what I say so fast that they’re taking it to mean the opposite of what it says or something like that.

  44. J.D. MeierNo Gravatar says:

    I’m a fan of always making information scannable.

    I think the dominant consumption pattern is scan and drill … scan and drill … and that’s a good thing.

    If, on the other hand, your storytelling, then I think it’s important to make each sentence make you want to read the next, leverage a careful tension and release pattern, and follow the recipes of great stories. Success leaves clues.

    Bottom line — there’s a difference between info sharing and reading for fun and I think it helps to use scenario-driven information engineering practices to get the best results.

    J.D. Meier´s last blog post..3 Stories Leaders Need to Tell

  45. PalabuzzNo Gravatar says:

    Sometimes it is better to create a short post because some people don’t like to read long articles.

    Palabuzz´s last blog post..Christian Bautista in on a hospital

  46. Great suggestions. I like to have a short teaser on my home page that compels people to click to read more to get the real meat of the post.

    jasonbartholme´s last blog post..A PHP Link Directory Reciprocal Link Exploit Revealed

  47. NaturalNo Gravatar says:

    hi barbara

    sure people scan my posts…well when i was posting. hehehe. that’s okay i guess. i don’t know that they are doing it or what words they are skipping over. i wouldn’t bother with a quiz at the end to see if they;ve read it. it’s probably best to write what’s most important or what you want your readers to come away with and even then, they might scan that. attention spans are getting shorter and shorter. i wonder how many people could keep their posts to 140 characters or less.

    Natural´s last blog post..Mirror, Mirror on the Blog….

  48. That is a problem for me. I need to learn how to scan. I find myself not getting around to all of the blogs that I would like to because those that I visit…I read. On the other hand, if it is my first visit I do either like it after the first paragraph or I just move on.

    My other problem is my reading the comment section. I like to read all comments before I comment.

    I am not bothered by those that scan my blog. Each blog offers something different. We have to respect that fact that we are each entitled to our own likes and dislikes.

    Cricket-Tammy´s last blog post..Open a Jar of Noxzema

  49. MarkNo Gravatar says:

    I think one of the issues is many blog posts is that like all other mediums you’re fighting for the attention span of the reader. I’ve heard that “new” visitors tend to be more captive than daily/weekly readers. They are usually more likely to skim versus those that found your blog in search of particular information. Good tips on how to maximize reading of actual posts.

  50. RobinNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Barbara – I’m so grateful when people leave a comment that it would never worry me if they didn’t read the post properly! Scanning is the nature of reading on a computer screen, and part of the art of writing for the screen is to cater for that. My heart sinks when I land on a friend’s blog, intending to leave a comment, and the post is extremely long – it can put me off commenting.

    Robin´s last blog post..Wanting To Look Young

  51. Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Miguel – It sounds like scanning isn’t even an issue for you. Great attitude!

    Hi Ricardo – That’s right. Those short, concise posts do help our readers get the facts fast.

    Hi Paisley – I agree. Scanning everything on every blog we visit does show disrespect for the authors – especially if it’s only done to gain recognition for ourselves in the comment section. *smiles* – yes, there is a bit of ruthlessness in blogging.

    Hi Susie – Short and sweet, with pictures can often get our messages across in a hurry.

    Hi Samar – That’s true. Good headlines and opening paragraphs can get our readers attention fast. Adding subheadings completes the picture and our readers can quickly move on.

    P.S. Yes, Men With Pens is a superb blog.

    Hi Kelvin – Good point. Often the blog post is not what it appears to be at first glance. When commenting, it’s best to know we’re on the same page as the author, otherwise we can make ourselves look pretty silly.

    Hi Chase – Thank you. I agree. We do need to develop our own style. Although scanning of blog posts will always happen, what you said about trust for what the author posts raises a great point. Having credibility will often help to avoid some degree of scanning.

    Hi Tom – I know what you mean about the extremely long posts. With time being of the essence, they often don’t get read.

    Hi Mike – I’m guessing your limited time to post and/or read blogs is working to your advantage. Short posts are (sometimes) easier to write.

    Hi Writer Dad – I never thought of that. If our audience isn’t other bloggers, less scanning may be going on.

    Hi Betsy – That’s true. A visit is a visit. And we appreciate each and every one, don’t we?

    Hi Linda – Haha! I hear you about comments that don’t match the post content. That’s a dead giveaway.

    Hi Stacey – The bullet points work great, don’t they?

    Hi Chania Girl – Thank you for the EFL lesson. I like how you worded that, “…remove any extraneous detail. No redundancy. Say it once. Say it well”.

    Hi Positively Present – Rereading a post we’ve scanned does help us to gain a better perspective…and, leave a meaningful comment.

    I hear you about long paragraphs. They don’t do well in blogs.

    Hi Caroline – Shhhhh! I scan too. 🙂 What you said is so true. We all love to cover as much ground as we can when we’re visiting other blogs so in order to visit as many as possible, scanning will happen.

    Hi Vered – That’s very true.

    Hi Kgirl – I hear you. We don’t always have to the time to give posts/blogs the time they deserve.

    Hi Kristin – You’re welcome. Like you said, when we become aware of our writing style, we see what’s working and what’s not. That’s when editing becomes very important.

    Hi RC – **smiles** “I never expected someone would read every word of my posts. Except my grandma and mom. Because they love me and that is what they do.” How true. 🙂

    Hi Carla – That’s a great idea. Publish shorter posts. Publish more often. I hear Google likes that, too.

    Hi Dot – LOL. Yes, skimming is a reading skill.

    Hi Alex – I like that idea. Put the lesson at the top and if the reader is interested, they can read the rest.

    Hi Kim – It’s hard NOT to include our whole thought process, isn’t it? Unfortunately most of our visitors don’t care how we got from point A to point B.

    Hi Josh – True. Blog posts are often more like updates than sharing a chapter of a book.

    Hi Patricia – Those bullet points do make it easier for readers who are scanning. With you having a contest and offering 5 prizes, bullet points are even more important.

    And yes, we often have readers who are not commenting, but still visiting. It’s nice to know they’re there.

    Hi Tess – Yes. Making posts unforgettable is a great technique. Mastering that takes work, doesn’t it?

    Hi Ribbon – Haha! “Sometimes I wondered if we were reading the same post.” I know what you’re saying.

    Hi Evelyn – You’ve raised a good point. When we post something someone is looking for, they may hang on every word. Although bloggers may be scanning, that doesn’t necessarily mean our other readers are.

    Hi Dennis – Your comment makes me wonder. How often have you called a commenter on their response?

    Hi Lance – I hear you about “moods/time, etc. When we’re tired and are trying to get to as many blogs as possible, it’s hard to read every word, but yet we want our blogger friends to know we were there.

    Hi Tracy – You’re funny. Don’t tell me we now have to make our comments more scan-able, too.

    I agree. Some styles of writing are not conducive to bullet points, lists, etc. I like your idea of compiling all of your longer pieces into a collection. Like you said, when someone does have time, they can read to their heart’s content. Canned chickens, and all. 🙂

    Hi Karen – You got it. Those shorter posts work wonders, don’t they?

    Hi George – LOL. I thought you were going to say you scanned the post AND the comments.

    Hi Bamboo – Yes. All of our readers are grand – scanners or not.

    Hi David – Thank you for sharing your Digg story. That’s a great observation of how they came to your blog, but the click through was poor. Aiming for readers, not numbers is a smart way to go.

    Hi Barb – I hear you. We all love to have people come and visit us. Whether they scan or read doesn’t really matter. Them just taking the time out of their day to visit us is what’s truly important.

    Hi John – That’s true. When we land on a blog post, the content may not even interest us (at that time), but because of community, we want to let the author(s) know we care.

    Hi Mike – Well put. Your blog is different than most and your articles are more like reference pieces than a personal blog. In fact, I almost don’t see your blog as a blog. When I come by, I see it more as reading a chapter in a well researched book.

    Good point about series posts. Often people do not read all of the posts included.

    Hi Kramer – Yes. It does depend on the article. If it’s not something we’re truly interested in, there’s no reason to read it word by word.

    Hi Chris – Your comment reminds me of how when someone scans their comment may take our words out of context.

    Hi J.D. – I agree with what you said about storytelling. We do need to keep the readers engaged by carefully wording each sentence.

    Hi Palabuzz – Yes. Short posts are often the answer.

    Hi Jason – Thank you. The short teasers can work well. That’s where wording them enticing becomes key.

    Hi Natural – LOL. You’ve nailed it. Attention spams are getting shorter, which I’m guessing is due to information overload. 140 characters or less? Twitter sure gives us practice in brevity, doesn’t it?

    Hi Tammy – Yes. When we do read the complete post plus all of the comments, we can end up spending a considerable amount of time on one blog. So many blogs, so little time. 🙂

    Hi Mark – Thank you. That’s true. When a visit to our blog resulted from a search, chances are we are providing the information the visitor is looking for, hence they may not be scanning the content.

    Hi Robin – *smile* Comments are special, aren’t they? Like you said, no worries if our blog post is read or not. It’s just great seeing a comment.

  52. It’s the nature of the beast. I scan the posts in my reader. If, within the first paragraph, my attention has been grabbed, I start again and read it word for word. Then, if I have something of value to add, I write a comment. I assume, therefore, that my readers do the same.

    Knowing this, we need to write to this. The opening line or two need to be real attention grabbers. Paragraphs should never be more than 3 sentences in length (learned this from the James at Men With Pens). Throw in some bulleted lists. Don’t be afraid of white space.

    It’s my job as the author to grab the attention of my audience. If I haven’t done my job well, then I have no right to get angry.

  53. I try to make short posts when I can.

    I’m okay with folks scanning my posts once in a while, I guess it’s to be expected in the real world.

    And are you aware of your brilliant typo in your comment to Natural “Attention spams are getting shorter…”

    Can I please lift that for my next Bord-on-a-wire??

    Jannie Funster´s last blog post..Ordering The Funsterment

  54. Dennis EdellNo Gravatar says:

    A lot actually. I’ve always been nice thus far with something like, “As I said in the post…..”

    Dennis Edell´s last blog post..How Do YOU Define Success?

  55. DavidNo Gravatar says:

    Interesting reading the comments. I agree with the points of the post for the most part. But I rarely post short posts unless I’m just quoting someone. If it gets too long, I split it up into a several parter. One even went 6 parts. I’m working on one now that is over 2,000 words.

    But I serve a niche. The approach I take is to cover the topic. That may take a paragraph and it may take 20. If the reader is interested, great . Its not typically material you can skim so I simply don’t write to that audience. It’s not news bytes but rather an exploration of deeper ideas about life.

    Sometimes, I do challenge even my regulars though, with several longer articles a day for a bit. (laughs)

  56. DavinaNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Barbara. I’m way late to this party, and yes, I have scanned the comments. When I first started blogging I didn’t scan. As I came to subscribe to more posts I found myself in more of a time crunch. Now I do scan… more with longer posts. I don’t have a problem with the idea of someone scanning my posts. I figure they’ll get out of it what they need.

    Davina´s last blog post..Positively Breathing — Not According to Plan

  57. I accept this reality.

    After all, I’m a technical writer – and we know that people don’t read the manual, even when it falls out of the box and hits them on the foot. I write for those who do, and I figure the rest will know how to find me, if ever they need or want to.

    I like to use a variety of these tips. To me, it’s about making the post more usable or accessible, easier to read, less likely to waste someone’s time. But there are also some posts that are meant to be savored, or read slowly – stories, humor, personal anecdotes. Headings and bullet lists don’t work as well in fiction, but serialization might – if you’re careful to always end on a cliff-hanger. Some techniques for grabbing and holding a reader’s attention are more suited to certain types of posts than to others.

    I like to use colored, bolded inline headings and white space as well as numbered or bulleted lists, where appropriate. If scanning a post doesn’t pique the reader’s interest sufficiently, slogging through a lot of text isn’t going to endear you to him. He is not going to work HARDER at reading; he is just going to be annoyed that you expect him to. Rightfully so – with all the reading material out there, yours had better be entertaining, unique, extraordinarily clear, useful, essential, etc.

    Holly Jahangiri´s last blog post..Champagne and Strawberries = Vindication!

  58. Hi
    I have to get out to new blogs more often. Just when you think the blogging world has gone stale. I come across an awesome site that makes me stop and say awesome job. I really like the welcome up top;)
    I seen way to many bloggers that aren’t very welcoming and apparently don’t know the word thank you. I will have to go read Blogging Happily next I know:) Anyway I see you have an awesome following. Comments can be taken for granted and they are definitely a sign the of the blogger’s skill.
    I did read every word of the post but I’m definitely a scanner.
    I see thousands of blogs and I don’t often stop and say excellent work 🙂
    Good to see your do follow I have always been and always will be 😉
    To your success best wishes

    John Sullivan´s last blog post..How facebook and twitter killed blogging

  59. Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Panther – That’s true. We only have a short amount of time to capture our readers attention. Those first few sentences are important. I also agree, we shouldn’t be afraid of white space.

    Hi Jannie – Yes, scanning is to be expected as we do it when we read the newspaper, books, magazines, etc., too.

    I wasn’t aware of the typo. Yes, you can lift it. :), but I’m still trying to figure out what it is.

    Hi again Dennis – You’re handling that very diplomatically. I would do the same.

    Hi David – You’ve raised a good point. There are some topics that are not conducive to bullet points or shorter posts. If our audience is expecting an article to be complete, then that’s what we should give them.

    Hi Davina – I hear you. When we first start blogging and the list of blogs we follow is short, we do have time to read word for word. But as that list grows, we’ve either got to scan or not be able to visit everyone we’d like to in the time we have.

    Hi Holly – What a fascinating job you have.

    What you said is true. We can annoy our visitors if we expect them to work harder at reading. Based on our content, too many of those types of posts and soon our stats will decline.

    Hi John – Thank you for your kind words, for the Stumble and for the wonderful Tweet. I hope to see you here again soon.

  60. Barbara,

    Doesn’t everyone scan? With so much information out there (and bloggers wanting to gain the most by reading many blogs and learning about other bloggers) – who doesn’t scan? When I see a really long blog post, I admire the writer for putting so much into a blog but I also sigh and think to myself how sad it is that they wrote a novel and so many may not even read the whole thing, including me!

    And yet, if it is a day when I have a little extra time, a good long post that has a lot of juice to it is a wonderful treat!

    Personally, I write what I want to write and figure that whoever reads it is reading it for their own reasons. I love comments and visitors but if I relied on them to fuel my fire, I wouldn’t do it very long.

    I must thank Lance for sending me this way. I came here to find out what the Blog of the Week is all about! What a wonderful resource you offer here, Barbara!

    Amy Jewell / Cirklagirl´s last blog post..The House on the Rock

  61. […] just finished reading a post by Barbara on Blogging Without a Blog about how our long blog posts are often not being read.  I am not surprised! There is just too […]

  62. KikolaniNo Gravatar says:

    I know that sometimes, my posts can get really lengthy, and I can tell sometimes in the comments that people haven’t read the post fully, either because they ask a question that has already been covered in the post, or they do not answer any of the reader questions that I have posed. I think that, considering how many other blogs people read, it is kinda obvious that people just skim over things, find the most important parts, and move on. At least they do take the time to visit my post at all, and maybe bookmark it for later if they find the parts they skimmed through useful.

    ~ Kristi

    Kikolani´s last blog post..25 Social Bookmarking & Link Sharing Browser Bookmarklets

  63. Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Amy – Thank you for your kind words. I’m guessing everyone scans from time to time. Like you said, with blogging we have so much we want to read and more bloggers to meet, scanning is about the only way we can do it all. In a way it’s sad, but until we find a better way, it’s bound to continue.

    HI Kristi – Yes, we do need to be thankful others are visiting us and leaving comments. Being bloggers ourselves, we quickly develop empathy for what’s probably happening in their lives.

  64. DaisyNo Gravatar says:

    Acck. Guilty as charged. Even worse, I tend to Power Read through a whole bunch of posts for the blogs that I follow, but not necessarily follow daily.

    I get it, and there’s no benefit to getting mad at others who skim. I think you should just do what you’re comfortable with and remember to control the controllables. Stopping others from skimming is like controlling the weather.


    Daisy´s last blog post..Daisy needs her space

  65. I’m with the “Subheadings are Good” crowd. Time is a precious commodity for all of us. Breaking up our blog posts and making them easy on the eyes helps make them more readable.

    Orlando Mortgage´s last blog post..Things Every Orlando First Time Home Buyer Should Know

  66. […] from a blog oddly called Blogging Without A Blog, we have this post titled The Secret Is Out – Our Blog Posts Are Not Being Read, and it’s pretty much self explanatory, though she also talks about people who only skim a […]

  67. […] we’re aware our visitors may not be stopping long enough to read our posts, finding a way to capture their attention should be of utmost […]

  68. […] face it, receiving comments means we know “for sure” our blog posts are be read (or maybe skimmed), and in some cases, comments are what keeps us motivated to keep […]

  69. ARQUIGRAFICONo Gravatar says:

    Hi Barbara, i am agree with you especially in Breaking a long article into shorter posts. In the past i use to post very very large post. Some one told me that was not correct. People could get tired reading it. Now i try to Post shorts and medium articles.

  70. Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:


    That’s true. Some of our readers will just leave and not comment if our articles are long and overwhelming looking. Breaking them into short posts or a series is a great way to give readers what they want, plus keep the discussion going.