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March 03, 2008
Blog Entry

SherpaBlog: Copywriting - The Glory of the Ellipsis

SUMMARY: No summary available.
By Anne Holland, Content Director

OK, so you’re working on a landing page, and you’ve got a lot of information to get across but you know people online just don’t read paragraph text. They skim, they scan, they skip around.

That’s why after a quick line or two of intro, you dive straight to bullet-point list.

But that only lasts 3-5 lines. And you can’t follow a bullet-point list with another bullet-point list. You have to go to paragraph format again, which won’t be read nearly as much. In fact, according to eyetracking tests, the way most people read paragraphs online is a bit like this ("word" means they read it; "blah" means it’s unnoticed.)

WORD WORD WORD word blah blah
WORD Word blah blah blah blah blah
blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah
blah blah blah blah blah blah blah word

How can you get more words read? Enter the ellipsis.

The art of getting a paragraph -- or a long sentence -- read is all about catching the eye. An ellipsis gives you five glorious letter-free spaces in the middle of the paragraph to grab the eye with. An example:

Acme’s widget helps you make more money ... lower your costs ... impress your boss ... and keep your career going strong.

Can you see how using a series of ellipses is a bit like using a bullet point list?

You can make a series of points in a row and catch the eye for each of them. Depending on the situation, you can use this trick several times in one piece of copy. I’ve actually seen direct mail letters and long-copy landing pages where ellipses are scattered with a liberal hand throughout, keeping that eye entertained.

Got a copywriting tip of your own? Share it with Sherpa readers by posting a comment below...

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