4 ways to optimize long stories for phone reading
How long is too long for the mobile screen?
“Only the biggest/most complex stories should go above 600 words,” counsels the BBC in its guide to writing news for the mobile screen. “But it is worth remembering that even a 500-word story looks long on mobile.”
“Even a 500-word story looks long on mobile.”
That’s because the small screen makes columns narrower, so the story carries on for screen after screen after screen.
That doesn’t mean that people won’t read a longer piece on their phones.
“I might read a 24,000-word article that really interests me” on my phone.
— BBC mobile editor Nathalie Malinarich
“I might read a 24,000-word article that really interests me,” says BBC mobile editor Nathalie Malinarich, who reads most of her news on her phone.
- Divide and conquer. Defer secondary content to secondary mobile screens.
- Show what’s below the fold. Add a menu to let readers know what they can’t see on the first screen.
- Excise the blah-blah text. Readers have no patience for filler on the phone.
- Be concise and precise. When in doubt, leave it out.