Content formats: what are they and why do you need them?


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content formats

A content format is a template that authors can use to make copywriting easier, quicker and more consistent.

So who uses content formats?

Content formats have been around for decades in one form or another. Think of the classic recipe format – it’s got a list of ingredients at the start, then step by step instructions, usually along with a photo of the finished product to guide you.

Content formats make writing easier for you

Because you know the structure and what goes into it, it’s familiar and easy to write a recipe in the standard format – you don’t have to be an expert writer. You just put the recipe name at the top, along with the cooking time and the number of people served, ingredient list in the ingredient list place, your instructions in the instructions place, and it’s all ready to go.

Content formats help your readers

Because your reader is familiar with content written in your format, it’s easy for them to use too. They know exactly what they’ll find where, and they’ll naturally look for the information they need in the place it’s usually found – think about how easy it is to use a recipe book. As an added bonus, it’s also easy for them to compare pages written to the same format with another one to see which suits them best.

A content format is just like the recipe example, but instead of providing a skeleton template for cooking instructions, it gives you the structure of a web-page, article, how-to guide or other piece of content.

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What should be in a good content format?

A good content format will give you a clearly labelled template to write into, with sections for your heading, introduction, bullet points, links, calls to action and any other elements you plan to include. It will also provide guidance for writing each of these sections, covering considerations like word count, type of vocabulary, keyword inclusion and any common pitfalls to avoid. Finally, it will come with a best-practice example – something akin to the photo in a recipe book – to show you how the finished product might look.

Where can you get a content format?

A good copywriting agency will be able to work with you to develop a format for your writers, and will also help you to determine which pages on your website or other written assets  would be best suited to a content format.