Longer stories lose readers faster
Size does matter.
Everything else being equal, your readers would rather read a short piece than a long piece.
Of course, all things are never really equal. Given more space, you can do a better job of making your copy more valuable and entertaining, which encourages readership.
But everything else being equal, your readers prefer a short piece to a long piece.
Here’s evidence that readers want less:
The shorter the story, the more they read.
The longer the story, the more quickly readers stop reading.
That was one of the findings the “father of communication studies,” Wilbur Schramm, made in this 1947 study of newspaper readers.
For the study, he interviewed 1,050 readers about what they read, how much and why they stopped.
He found that:
- A nine-paragraph-long story lost three out of 10 readers by the fifth paragraph.
- A shorter story lost only two.
Bottom line: Length itself affects readability.
Source: William H. DuBay, Readers, Readability, and the Grading of Text (PDF), Impact Information (Costa Mesa, California), 2007