Text-Decorations and Eyeballs

by phil on Saturday Aug 23, 2003 7:29 PM

I'm experimenting with usages of text-decorations, such as Bold, to improve readers' experiences with online text.

My surfing habits are such that now I just scan instead of read websites. My eyes moves up and down between 100+ pages a day, and stumbles upon some keywords I like. I then continue to read, usually skipping around, until I get the juice that I'm looking for, and then I close or move on.

Unfortunately, a lot of the web, esp. blogs, are still written like stuff offline. News articles are still long columns of text, and blogs are like pages out of a diary.

I'd like to suggest using text-decorations and other font stuff to make scanning easier for people.

Here are the basic text decorations:
- Bold
- Italics
- Underline
- Normal
- HyperLink

Here are all the feasible combinations:
Normal, Bold, Italics, Underline, Bold-Italics, Bold-Underline, Bold-Italics-Underline, Hyperlink, Italics-Hyperlink

So there's 7 non-hyperlink classes of text that you can use. Various parts of your text should be classified with text-decorations to allow readers to scan for what they need.

I haven't figured out what the classes are, but tentatively, I'm thinking, make everything italics that is mere opinion, anything bold that are key facts that should be read, anything bold-underline being like the main punch-line fact, and anything bold-italics being a summary statement that captures the gist of what I'm saying. Normal is just filler, story, details, etc. And italicized-hyperlinks are links that are secondary. BlockQuote should be used for quotes. I haven't found a usage for bold-underline-italics, but we'll see.

People who posts essays and long posts online should keep in mind ADD-web-surfers like me and mark the "goods" properly so that we can all save time.

Coming Soon in other blogging experiments:
- My deal with the blogrolls at the top
- Using IE Histories to tell more about what you do
- Using google search terms into your blogs

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