Subheaders: More Important Than You Think

Subheadings are less important than headings. We can’t argue with that fact. After all, it’s literally right there in the name. But that doesn’t mean subheaders aren’t important at all. Subheadings are a standard feature in professional content writing, and they’re a lot more valuable than you may think.

 

What’s so great about subheaders?

 

There are all sorts of reasons why you definitely want to put some great subheadings into your content writing. Here are three of the biggest ways that a spot-on subheader can help make your blog great:

Subheaders - sleeping dog

1. Subheaders stop your readers nodding off

However thrillingly au courant your use of language is, every content writer knows that there are just some topics that don’t always keep readers excited from start to finish. Imagine you’ve been given content-writing titles about liability insurance policies, or provincial petrol prices. Informative? Sure. Necessary? Oh yes. A cultural white-knuckle ride for John Q. Citizen? No. Subheaders are like a roundabout on a straight, long road; they keep a reader’s interest and guide them along the route. Er, but without offering them the chance to turn left.

2. Subheaders break up big chunks of text

Imagine you’ve got two longform articles in front of you. Both are composed of exactly the same words… the only difference is that one is just a big continuous block of text, while the other is broken up into smaller, easier-to-digest sections. Which one are you going to choose to read? Exactly. Big blocks of text are visually off-putting; they appear more complex than they really need to be. And readers don’t like that. Experts say that web users ‘tend to choose the path of minimum effort’, and who can blame them? TL;DR is a comment to be avoided at all costs, and you can avoid it without actually shortening your content.

Subheaders make reading easy - dog reading a book

3. Subheaders make reading easy

Readers don’t read blogs or articles for nothing. They read because they believe the piece of content holds a piece of information that could be valuable to them. And the most efficient way for the brain to find this information isn’t to read through the whole thing… it’s to scan. Scanning text is normal, and it’s estimated that nearly 80% of us do it. And the natural scanning pattern sees attention fall on headings and subheadings first. It’s called a ‘Layer Cake Scanning Pattern’, with subheadings catching the eye.

How to create amazing subheadings

We’ve looked at why content is written with subheaders. The next question is: how can you write subheaders that achieve what they’re supposed to? Here are a few little tips for some inspiration:

  • Be playful
If you’re looking to keep your reader’s interest, then don’t be afraid to have a little fun with your subheadings. Don’t go too crazy – remember that not everyone may enjoy a cheesy pun as much as you do – but unlike headings that need to be succinct, you can be a bit more flexible with subs.

  • Be logical

There are no hard and fast rules about where subheaders should be placed, but it makes sense to group together linked bits of information and put them together under a single subheader. Some writers like to create their subheaders first, to organise themselves and decide what ideas they’re going to cover.

  • Be clear
  • If you want to make sure that your readers can easily find the bits and pieces of information they’re looking for in your text, then it helps to keep your subheadings at least partially related to whatever you’re discussing underneath. A good subheader will help to guide readers into the next topic.

    Not so ‘sub’ after all

    Subheadings will never rise above the mighty headline, but as we can see, they’re perhaps not quite as low in rank as the name would have us believe. We think subheadings are the understated hero of professional content writing, structuring text, gathering ideas, and making it easy for readers to read.

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