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Use Subheads

One proven device for keeping a reader moving forward through an article is to insert subheads (subheadings) every few paragraphs. Just as a well-written heading can draw a reader into a story that they might otherwise skip over, subheads provide a visual road-sign, alerting readers that something different and potentially interesting is coming up.

The job of the subhead is to pick out a word, phrase, or idea from the following few paragraphs that will make the reader want to keep reading. The cleverest newspaper editors use a similar device when they have an article that is so long it must “jump” from one page to the next. Just before the article jumps, make sure there’s an intriguing phrase. One feature-article editor for The Wall Street Journal used to say that the ultimate sentence that could appear before a “jump” was “... and then the shit hit the fan.”


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