Engaging readers is getting more and more difficult, especially online. People want the information they’re looking for, they want it now, and they want it easy to digest.
While there is likely some more leeway in the legal field than in others – readers doing legal research tend to have an important issue that they are willing to devote some time and effort towards solving – you still need to structure your legal blog or other online written content for the impatient and demanding reader who skims material rather than giving it their full attention.
Lists (whether bulleted or numbered) are an integral part of that structure. In this post, we’ll provide 4 reasons why you should use them. In our next post, we’ll differentiate between the 2 kinds of lists we see in online legal content.
4 Reasons to Use Bullet Points or Numbered Lists in a Legal Blog Post
We see bullet point and numbered lists everywhere in online content, but just because they’re out there does not necessarily mean they’re the best practice. Here are 4 reasons why they are so ubiquitous:
- They make posts less intimidating. When readers encounter walls of text, they can get intimidated by the thought of pulling out the details they want to read about. Unless the title of your post is directly on point to their topic of research, they are going to consider looking somewhere else.
- They provide a visual break. Most readers are not as disciplined as lawyers are. They need visual breaks as they read to give themselves a kind of “mental breather.” Bulleted lists can do this by changing the format a bit and providing some extra white space, all while continuing to provide information.
- They highlight important information. That change in format allows bulleted lists to highlight certain pieces of information. Because the list looks different from most of the content in a blog post, it will stick out in the reader’s mind.
- They let readers skim material. Precisely because bulleted lists highlight important information, readers use them when they skim a post. Information that is in a bulleted list is far more likely to catch a scanning reader’s eye than if it were in the regular, unformatted text.
Lists are All About Convenience
In the end, bulleted or numbered lists are all about the convenience of the reader. Like it or not, when you write online content for your law firm’s website, you need to cater to that convenience. If you don’t, you risk alienating your reader by making your content more difficult to read than your competitors.