Google+ | How to structure and format your lengthy posts

» A blogging platform
One of the appealing features of google+ is the ability to write lengthy posts. Combine that with the excellent commenting system and we get ourselves a very functional blogging platform. However, there is also another mis-used feature which all g+ content curators stand to benefit from if used properly: rich text formatting

Often times I see very long posts that are a giant block of text with no formatting or structure applied to them. They might contain top quality content but because they're not presented in an appealing way, mosts users do not bother to read through them. The lack of engagement then surprises the original author. This is even true for some of our power users.

Google+ offers us the chance to get rid of the ridiculous TL;DR (too long; didn't read) culture on the internet. That will only happen if we make our posts easier and simpler to read. Our readers should be able to take one look at the post and see exactly what it is about. The structure of the post should draw them in and encourage them to read all of it.


» The need for a template
It is always good to give examples when it comes to such things so I've created a sample template of a formatted post on g+. Hopefully fellow content publishers will be able to mold their posts into this template and consequently see an improvement in engagement.

That being said I've always maintained that no-one-size-fits-all. Everyone has their own tried and tested method that they rely on. Consistency is as important as structure and formatting. As such this template is only a guideline and should be used as you deem fit.


» Google+ formatting options
Before we look at the sample template, let's quickly recap the three different formatting options that are available to us on google+:
Bold: Any text between two asterisks (*) becomes bold when you post.
Italic: To make a piece of text italic, put it between two underscores (_).
Strikethrough: Text between two hyphens (-) gets the strike-through effect.


» The Template

—— [START] ——


Title of Post
optional tagline

» Introduction (paragraph heading) Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Praesent lacus magna, rutrum vel posuere et, sodales in orci. Nulla vel est ipsum, quis pharetra metus. Etiam interdum purus in sapien porttitor quis porttitor ipsum suscipit.


» Further introductory discussion
Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Praesent lacus magna, rutrum vel posuere et, sodales in orci. Nulla vel est ipsum, quis pharetra metus. Etiam interdum purus in sapien porttitor quis porttitor ipsum suscipit.


» Main Body
The article/post/blog will be divided into sections as follows:
Section 1 | Section 2 | Section 3 | ...

1. Section 1 (section heading)
Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Praesent lacus magna, rutrum vel posuere et, sodales in orci. Nulla vel est ipsum, quis pharetra metus. Etiam interdum purus in sapien porttitor quis porttitor ipsum suscipit. Cras fringilla, felis a pharetra fermentum, diam est feugiat turpis, sit amet convallis quam lorem eget dui:
• bullet 1
• bullet 2

2. Section 2
Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Praesent lacus magna, rutrum vel posuere et, sodales in orci. Nulla vel est ipsum, quis pharetra metus. Etiam interdum purus in sapien porttitor quis porttitor ipsum suscipit. Cras fringilla, felis a pharetra fermentum, diam est feugiat turpis, sit amet convallis quam lorem eget dui.

3. Section 3
Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Praesent lacus magna, rutrum vel posuere et, sodales in orci. Nulla vel est ipsum, quis pharetra metus. Etiam interdum purus in sapien porttitor quis porttitor ipsum suscipit. Cras fringilla, felis a pharetra fermentum, diam est feugiat turpis, sit amet convallis quam lorem eget dui.


» Conclusions
A brief summary of what was said together with closing remarks. Thank your readers and request them for feedback, etc.


Cheers/sincerely/regards,
+YourName (as a +tag)

****************************************
Permanlink to post: (use a URL shortner like bit.ly)
Relevant hash tags: #hashtag


—— [END] ——


» Download the template
I've created a Google Document as a Raw Template with text that you can paste directly into your Share box to format your posts exactly like above. You can grab it at bit.ly/gp_template_doc and then edit it accordingly to add your content. To see what a proper long post based on this template can look like please check out: bit.ly/gp_netiquettes


» Some more examples of formatting
As I mentioned at the beginning, everyone has their own method and style of formatting they use to publish their posts. If you're looking for more ideas and inspiration please scroll through the posts from these users: +Denis Labelle +M Sinclair Stevens +Alida Brandenburg +Mike Elgan +Robert Scoble +Jaana Nyström +Ryan Crowe +Gabriel Vasile +Johnathan Chung +Mike Alwill +Trey Ratcliff +Natalie Villalobos +Alireza Yavari +Cadbury UK


» Concluding remarks
The idea behind the template is simple: make your posts attractive and more readable for your readers. A well-formatted post stands out. This is why I almost always use a Title for my posts. If the articles are lengthy, I divide them into Sections and list the section headings as a table of contents at the beginning of the post so that users know exactly what's to come. A good Conclusion is always necessary in any form of writing so that readers can recap what they've read. Additionally it goes a long way to thank your audience for reading your post.

Finally, after publishing your post, try using a URL shortener like bit.ly to add a Permalink at the end. Not only will this give your readers a convenient and short URL for sharing your post but it'll also allow you to sign up for bit.ly to get detailed analytics on the number of clicks your post will receive.

Thank you for reading through. I hope the template will help users achieve effective and quality content publishing. As always your feedback is most welcome. If you know of any other users who have good formatting methods please mention them in the comments so I can add them to this post.

Cheers,
+Ahmed Zeeshan

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Permalink to post: bit.ly/gp_formatting
Raw template file: bit.ly/gp_template_doc

Hash tags: #googleplustips #googleplustutorials #plustips
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