Blogging Style: The Basic Posting Formats (Series Index)

After reading blogs for awhile, I’ve come to see some patterns in the ways postings in text-based blogs are formatted. As I see it, there are seven basic formats for blog postings. Each serves a different purpose for bloggers and their readers.

The format of a blog posting, if chosen consciously and carefully, enhance communication – particularly the delivery of certain types of content. Consequently, some formats work best for commentary or explanation, others for alerts and references, etc.

Here are the seven basic blog posting formats:

  1. Link-only
  2. Link blurb
  3. Brief remark
  4. List
  5. Short article
  6. Long article
  7. Series postings

Keep in mind that these types represent points along a spectrum. A specific posting might blend aspects of two or more formats.

Why should bloggers understand and care about posting format?…

Bloggers who clearly understand posting formats and consider them consciously are more likely to choose the best format for each posting they publish – one that suits the content as well as the audience and the blogger’s own resources.

Before you start blogging, it helps to envision what your final posting will look like. Remember: your ultimate goal is communication, so it helps to publish in ways that effectively support communication. For text-based blogs, selecting the right format for each posting is a big part of achieving that goal.

Most blogs offer a mix of posting formats. That’s fine – even desirable. With a few exceptions, most blogs that I’ve seen which offer only a single format of posting end up feeling rather monotonous. Format variety enhances most blogs. John Battelle’s Searchblog does an excellent job of mixing posting formats (mostly link blurbs and short articles, with the occasional long article thrown in).

If you’re not sure which posting formats your readers prefer, ask them! It’s easy to conduct a simple reader survey with a free tool like SurveyMonkey. Of course, you also have to consider the time and energy you have available to post to your blog. If your readers say they want long articles from you daily, and you have about a half hour a day at most to blog, obviously you’ll have to find another option. (Maybe a weekly long article, supplemented with daily link blurbs or brief remarks.)

Selecting a posting format is always a tradeoff. As this series describes, each format has unique advantages and disadvantages.

NEXT: The link-only posting

32 thoughts on Blogging Style: The Basic Posting Formats (Series Index)

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    Amy at Contentious is writing a series on different types of blog posts which might be of interest to some readers. She’s broken blog posts down into 7 formats and is working through each post (only 3 completed so…

  3. Amy,

    I know you are talking about “text-based” blogs, but I think one pattern that may be missing is the one I use – a combination of a photograph/illustration and text above or below it.

  4. Yep, I’ll be covering formats for non-text blog content later. Right now, I needed to start with text content, since that is the core content of most blogs.

    – Amy Gahran
    Editor, CONTENTIOUS

  5. Blogging Formats
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  6. Blogging style: The basic posting formats
    Amy Gahran has written an excellent series of articles exploring common blogging styles. She identifies seven basic blog posting formats: Link-only Link blurb Brief remark List Short article Long article Series postings [Thanks to Bill Ives.]…

  7. Blogging style: The basic posting formats
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  8. With all due respect, Amy, this infatuation with presentation is absurd. Achieving “communication,” as you put it, is relatively straightforward: have something to say, which 80+% of all blogs out there do not. Compelling content will engage regardless of the format; hopeless, introspective drivel cannot be salvaged by any presentation format.

  9. Sorry, Scott. While your last point about “hopeless, instrospective drivel” is true, your main argument is utterly wrong. No matter how brilliant the idea inside your head, it can be diminished, obscured, or completely lost, if poorly presented.

    I’d argue that a significant part of what makes “compelling content” compelling is in its “formatting.”

    Looking forward to more in this series, Amy.

  10. Are you BUSY too? Posting styles for everyone
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  11. Scott wrote:

    >this infatuation with presentation is absurd. ,,,Compelling content will engage regardless of the format; hopeless, introspective drivel cannot be salvaged by any presentation format.< I disagree. In my experience, strong, compelling content can be (and often is) undermined or even completely ruined through presentation in an inappropriate format. But I agree that drivel cannot be salvaged regardless of format choice or editorial skill. However, bear in mind that this involves some major value judgements. It all depends on the taste of the target audience. One person's drivel is another person's epiphany. - Amy Gahran

  12. How do you choose your feeds?
    This is a good question and I made it to myself when I was trying to read my Bloglines feeds today. There were something like 6500 entries to read, but the problem was that there were many feeds with more than 200 entries and when I open to read then d…

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  14. Here’s my example, albeit from a non-blog world. So, I am a game designer on the side – if you’re unfamiliar with that hooby, that that’s even better for my example! Compare, at just a glance:

    (1) http://mythpunk.forgreatjustice.net/ExitMusic.txt
    (2) http://mythpunk.forgreatjustice.net/ExitMusic.pdf

    I was really shocked when I saw what my partner did to my text in terms of layout and design. Suddenly, an amateur text looked like Professional Material.

    I see it all the time: interface and formatting have a geometric effect on the value of that content. (Of course, that doesn’t help 0-value content, as has been said.)

  15. I can’t say I would ever pin myself down to one presentation style – some days I have a URL to comment on, some days I don’t; some days I feel like telling my life story, other days I have one smartass remark to make. I don’t think any kind of format consistency is required to develop an audience – but perhaps it takes time to develop a voice.

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    Michael Feldman, aka the Dowbrigade, writes his thoughts on the style of blog posts, based on what Christina Pikas talked about at Thursday’s blog meeting .

  17. Blog Posting Styles
    Amy Gharan over at Contentious has some posts up about Blogging Style: The Basic Posting Formats (Series Index) which are worth a read for some people out there. I know I got at least one good idea from them. via…

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