How long-form and short-form can work together to benefit everyone

A war is raging on in the publishing world for readership in a densely populated market. A seemingly never-ending battle pits long-form and short-form advocates against one another. Should publishers stick to shorter, more frequent posts? Or should they go back to their roots in longer, in-depth pieces? Well, forget the in-fighting and raise a white flag because one is not greater than the other. In fact, short-form and long-form should (and most definitely can) work together in articles of all types.

To really understand, consider each form’s strengths. Short-form is incredibly valuable in enhancing awareness and converting browsers to readers. Often found in the forms of blogging, lists, and social media curation, it offers a vague understanding of the material. But only a basic understanding.

Meanwhile, long-form can delve deeper and examine said material at greater length, providing detail and careful discussion in longer journalistic pieces and books. The problem with long-form, sadly, is that people aren’t scrolling down the page to read: 80% of readers spend their time above the fold—the visible part of a web page before one has to scroll—and only 20% scroll beyond the fold. People are too “busy” for long-form commitments.

How can publishers expect anyone to read below the fold then? Top publishers like BBC, the Daily Mail, and Bloomberg are increasingly using short-form at the top of long-form to captivate readers and pull them into the long-form. It works like this:

long form/short form example

Bullet points, a slideshow list, and aphorisms can take the key points of the long-form article. If a reader feels compelled by the information, the reader will scroll on to find greater credibility and authority in the piece. Quietly lists, for example, can act as a summary for an article, as seen at the top of this piece.

The best way to implement this into your own writing is to think of how you can use short-form for your long-form. Can you listify it? Should you just use bullet points? Then think about social media: can you use social media creatively? What about more visual content, like infographics? How you use short-form for your long-form should reflect your brand. If you use it correctly, you can get all kinds of readers to come to your site.

4 Simple Things About Longform & Shortform Content

By Emily E. Steck

Longform or shortform, that is the question for publishers these days. Why choose though? Let’s look at how they can work together for the better.

  • Battle Bound

    By Emily E. Steck

    Longform vs. shortform are battling for reader’s attention. Each has their advantages and disadvantages.

  • Short & Snackable Content

    By Emily E. Steck

    Shortform is known for its digestible, snackable content, but lacks the detail and depth of longform.

  • Long, Lengthy & Deep

    By Emily E. Steck

    Longform offers in-depth analysis and detail that shortform does not, but 80% of readers spend their time above the fold and only 20% scroll beyond the fold. Few read the whole article.

  • How They Work Together

    By Emily E. Steck

    To combat this, many publishers are employing shortform above the longform, summarizing the key points of the longform article. This encourages readers to read the rest.

Image credit: Hoira Varlan via Flickr

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