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This chapter is from the book

Writing Shorter Paragraphs

When it comes to chunkifying your text, nothing works better than writing shorter paragraphs. Online, you just don’t want a paragraph to stretch from the top of the screen to the bottom; you want to be able to gently graze from one short paragraph to the next.

Let’s also be honest: shorter paragraphs are effective in most types of writing. An overly long paragraph looks dense on the page and might discourage readers from tackling the whole thing. A shorter paragraph is more inviting and promises a quicker payoff. Readers are more likely to read a paragraph where the end is in sight than one that trails off somewhere down the page.

You can use several techniques to write shorter paragraphs. One is simply self-control; limit yourself, while writing, to no more than two or three sentences per paragraph. Another approach is to take longer existing paragraphs and chop them into two (or three or four). If you go the latter route, a little rewriting might be in order, to make sure that each new paragraph has appropriate first and last sentences, and that they flow well from one to the next.

Take, for example, this single long paragraph:

  • We employ several stealth techniques when monitoring Darknet sites. First, we disperse our software agents through multiple secure servers located around the globe. In addition, software agents are programmed to mimic naturalistic human behavior, not the automated behavior typical of search spiders, thus concealing their presence. This non-intrusive process leaves little to no signature behind, so that monitoring can continue without detection or interruption. The data retrieved by our search engines are forwarded to the company’s human cyber intelligence analysts. These professionals can then enter the targeted site or channel manually if more information is required or filter through the retrieved data and forward their analysis to the company’s clients.

Pretty dense, isn’t it? You get better readability when you break this single long paragraph into multiple shorter ones, each of which are more easily scanned by the reader. The end result looks like this:

  • We employ several stealth techniques when monitoring Darknet sites.
  • First, we disperse our software agents through multiple secure servers located around the globe.
  • In addition, software agents are programmed to mimic naturalistic human behavior, not the automated behavior typical of search spiders, thus concealing their presence. This non-intrusive process leaves little to no signature behind, so that monitoring can continue without detection or interruption.
  • The data retrieved by our search engines are forwarded to the company’s human cyber intelligence analysts. These professionals can then enter the targeted site or channel manually if more information is required or filter through the retrieved data and forward their analysis to the company’s clients.

Still not ideal (I’d shorten some of those sentences—as I’ll discuss next), but it’s a lot more readable than the original single paragraph.

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