The 10 Second Rule: How to Write for Diagonal Readers

The 10 Second Rule: How to Write for Diagonal Readers

Reader Comments (60)

  1. I agree wholeheartedly that the amount of information we have is overwhelming. So much so that I advise clients of a “2-second rule.” Maybe I just scan more than the average person.

  2. Andrea, I think the topic/headline itself is subjected to the 2 second rule, and sadly most content doesn’t even make it past that point.

  3. Good stuff. I am diagonal reader. I scan titles in my rss reader, and if it catches my eye then i give a try for the openning line, if it is of some interest, i try picking the bullets and bold types to try to absorb the essence, then i might be reading the whole artice.
    That is why i likce concise posts, with empasized punch lines and good titles.

  4. Very nice tips, and it is great to emphasize the need to spend some time in formatting the style of the post, it helps readers (and writers a great deal).

  5. It’s almost like what Syd Field says about screenplays. If you don’t get the reader’s interest in the first 10 pages — which makes up the first 10 mins of the movie, it’s not going to do well.

  6. This article trigger me to reconsider writing an excerpt for every post. If I can’t write a good excerpt for it, it probably doesn’t follow the 10-second-rule.
    Thanks for the inspiration!

  7. Hey Muhammad.
    Great post – I myself am a very Diagonal Reader and quickly flash through my feedreader to see what headlines and especially graphics grab my eye.
    Subtitles for me are also very important with the use of the H3 tag, something which you’ve demonstrated nicely in this post!

  8. Love the post – hate the css – I know many other readers who do what I do when they surf – that is, continually select and de-select piles of text.
    Your css makes it appear as if the text I select is not selected, which makes me want to chew my arm off.

  9. Hmmm, thanks for the info Matthew… I had never considered that because I’ve never heard of anyone reading that way.

    You take care of that arm now, you hear?

  10. IMO, this post could have been condensed and allowed me to scan even faster.
    My #1 rule and recommendation: Get to the point. If it’s filler, cut it out. Don’t write words just to take up space. Don’t reiterate anything. Don’t state the obvious. Dense writing is good writing.

  11. Arm is fine – by the way, the Comments show highlighting very nicely…

  12. How true it is. Information overload is how we live now a days. I’ll stop writing now because you stopped reading at the first line.

  13. Brian,

    I actually highlight sentences as I read, like Matthew does. And I noticed the same thing when I first visited CopyBlogger.

    But I actually never found anybody else doing what I do! 🙂

  14. Hey, great post! Thanks! My blog posts are usually longer and more in-depth than most. My goal is to provide a quality post every time so my readers don’t feel “slighted” by shoddy content.

    But I never considered the “diagonal reader” I think adding subtitles to my posts, as a way of breaking the information down might go a long way in helping my readers digest my lengthy posts!

    Thanks again for the tips!

  15. I definitely agree that people are feeling information overload these days. I try to keep my blog posts and business communications as succinct and clear as possible. I even read an article recently that suggested people stop sending emails for the sole purpose of saying thank you for something the recipient did. I think we might be going too far though when we omit common courtesy to reduce the amount of words we see each day.

  16. Great points, with the advent of RSS good headlines and concise opening summaries are VERY important. I keep the articles in my reader pretty darn short and open the ones with interesting headlines and summaries in tabs to read fully.

  17. Very good point about the headline. So many sites get viewed daily, its easy to not think of the different reading styles.

    Goods tips, thanks

  18. Wow, This is something that I have overlooked for the past years. Amazingly overlooked. Thanks for this very comprehensive information. Now I can start implementing the 10 second rule.

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