Writing so people will not scan but read!

CopywritingCopyblogger Brian Clark has recently wrote an excellent piece on writing exquisite subheads. I think this is a must learn skill if you are thinking of doing any form or writing on the Internet, may it be sales letters, or blogs or articles.

People don’t READ, they SCAN

I suspect its because of my own exposure to reading blogs and articles that I tend to scan through everything. Nowadays, I realise that I am starting to get impatient to read the daily newspaper. I mean – its one big headline and so many teeny weeny words. How can one bother to read every single word?

On that thought, too much Internet reading exposure might be detrimental for school students who need to read between the lines. Maybe that is why I never pull off reading a full research paper in school in detail. I’d rather scan 10 papers in 30 minutes, than to read one in detail. Unfortunately, research papers need to read in detail because its the numbers that make sense, but I simply skip the numbers and look for the conclusion. :mrgreen:

The trend of scanning is of course brought in because of the fact that the Internet is overloaded with information… and its sad to say that at least 80% is pure junk. Its no wonder why people like myself have started to have less patience in reading bulk of text – they provide no value.

So you need to turn scanners back to readers

The thing is, people WILL start by scanning your site, and your goal is to get them to read the text again, because I think there is nothing that can be done to get them to start reading on the first time – not even by saying something like “Read this text carefully, because this may be the most important letter you are going to read” – simply because too many people are doing it, and many readers are already sick of these stuff.

The best way to do it is using subheadings

Yes, so the best way is really what Brian mentioned – to use really useful subheadings to provide a general picture and a reason for them to read the copy.

He says:

So, don’t think in terms of subheads, think sub-benefits.

Simply identify all of your main points, and at the transition point between each, write a headline highlighting the benefit of reading the next section. Apply the same methodology as you would to any headline, while realizing that it’s easier to keep an existing reader than it is to hook a new one, so don’t go overboard.

The subheadings must highlight the benefits – the gist of the whole story.

Brian also provides three very useful techniques to create subheads for better results:

  1. Express a clear and complete benefit.
  2. Use Parallelism That Advocates Action
  3. Try Writing Your Subheads First

I’m so inspired. :mrgreen: Brian Rocks! Check out his post.


  1. That was a brilliant post, i must admit I’m guilty of scanning the pages but it all depends on if i can be bothered.

    The subheadings part i think should be like a clif hanger here you put “The best way to do it is using subheadings” that tells me everything and i actually skipped that part because you pritty much told me all i needed to know in the subtitle.

    “So you need to turn scanners back to readers” i liked that title its aimed at you saying that you need to turn them into readers so read this! 😀

  2. A nice post Kian. I remember reading the original post by Brian a few days ago, and even then too I thought something like, “Why so much impatience that we have to device ways to make people read?”

    I agree there is lots of junk on the Internet, but the other fact is, there is lots of FREE junk available on the Internet and that’s what makes us impatient. The moment we start paying, we start taking things seriously. There is no directly impact — financially ,socially, politically and such right now. I read newspaper patiently because the news published there directly or indirectly affect me and my family.

  3. Haha.. good point Mike! Now that you brought it up, I think there are two ways to do it, one is the cliff hanger way you mentioned – using subheadings to entice people to read the paragraph, and the other using subheadings to tell the whole story!

  4. Hi Kian…just checking. Yesterday I left a comment here and it didn’t appear. I’m testing with Opera (if it is is FireFox issue) because I’ve noticed similar problem at other websites too. Or is there something the your spam catcher does like? 🙂

  5. Hey Amrit, yeah, it was getting caught as spam… for some weird reason (Akismet problem). I will do my best to check my spam box more regularly from now. Thanks Amrit for your comments and feedback… I really appreciate it.