With classic tact, Markus introduced new Performancing member David Lind to the concept of the text desert (not “dessert”, like cake…”desert” like sand and camels). David, in an appropriate manner, responded with a “what the hell are you talking about Markus”? (Just as I would have had I not known what a text desert was).
Let me explain. A text desert is an article that consists of long, unbroken patches of textual content. Even if it’s got great content, a text dessert often has negative psychological effects which cause many people to ignore, scoff, or have their eyes glaze over:
Some Negative (Health) Effects of of the Text Desert
- Text deserts are not easily scannable, making them unhealthy for the video gaming generation
- Text deserts overwhelm the reader and cannot be easily digested
- Text deserts don’t have any interesting eye candy like children’s books (or the NY Times)
- Text deserts make lazy people like me work harder
- Text deserts can cause the human eye to get watery…and itchy.
Five Tips for Avoiding the Text Desert
- Use scannable headlines to describe and break-up sections of your article
- Use bullet points (ordered or unordered depending on context) to make your points as quickly as possible
- Write shorter paragraphs to make the reader feel less overwhelmed, and more accomplished (woohoo! I’ve finished 3 paragraphs already)
- Emphasize important phrases with bold and italicized text
- Emphasize your point with a picture
There you have it. Now if Markus tells me that this is a text desert, I’m going to shoot him;-)