Of course, the biggest mistake of all is not using subheadings. Readers need subheadings so they can quickly find what they are looking for. Subheadings and space breaks give them the scannability and simplicity they crave.
But when it comes to pleasing writers, it’s about more than just using subheadings. It’s using them well.
Provide the Most Important Information First and Last
Readers land on a page and make a split-second decision if they want to stay or not. So don’t hide all of your best information toward the bottom. Give readers a juicy piece of information right off the bat so they immediately feel satisfied and interested.
Sprinkle in other important points throughout the rest of the article, but remember to save something really good for the end. Ending strong will reward the reader for making it to the end. It also establishes trust with the reader, making them far more likely to read your content to the end the next time.
Editor’s note: A great way to ensure that your beginning and end are strong is to use the Bookend Blog-Writing Technique.
Avoid Puns Even If It’s Fun
Playful titles and play-on-words might work for other mediums (like books, movies, and essays), but when it comes to online content, it’s better to say exactly what you mean.
Being clear in your subheadings helps impatient readers find what they are looking for and also helps keyword-hungry search engines label the content. Avoid titling a subheading something you think will make your reader laugh, unless you can do so while being clear. Instead, deliver a useful subheading that will make your reader understand.
Refer Back to the Title
The title of this article is 6 Subheading Strategies You Need to Know, so each of the subheadings in this article are strategies. Make sure that whatever you offer in the title, you deliver in the body.
It would be confusing to readers if the subheadings in this article were “Subheadings Are Important” or “Why You Should Use Subheadings”, as those phrases don’t refer back to what the reader is looking for — a list of strategies.
Separate Similar Sized Sections
Use subheadings to separate sections into roughly the same size of text. Notice how I use a subheading to separate the text every two or three paragraphs.
Keeping information under subheadings to roughly the same size keeps the depth of the information evenly dispersed. It shows if you have elaborated too heavily on one topic and not enough on another.
It doesn’t have to be exact, but you get the point.
Don’t Be Vague: Use the Subheading to Tell Your Reader Something
Even if you are writing a blog post where the subheadings sound like they should be short and simple, find a way to add extra useful information to the subheading.
If you are writing The Best Apps for Watching your Weight, don’t only put the app name in the subheading: “Workout Trainer” and “MyNetDiary”. Add bonus information that tells the reader more: “Workout Trainer: For Planning Work Outs” and “MyNetDiary: For Counting Calories”.
Count Down and Number Steps
Add numbers to your subheadings when they add context to the information. This happens most frequently in count downs or steps of instructions.
Numbers next to an element in a countdown are useful because they represent the value of an item. For example, #2 in a subheading in the article Countdown of the Best Beaches tells the reader the beach is pretty great. Numbers in steps of instructions are helpful because it tells the reader which step of the process they are on.
Numbers are great in subheadings, but only if they add value. Don’t add them if they have no point or context.
When it comes to subheadings, it is all about making things easier on the reader. So help the reader by clearly and simply offering them the information that they want.