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When I write answers to questions on the stack exchange network my end result is often quite lengthy. While length itself isn't a problem for me, sometimes my answers end up like this. This happens significantly more frequently than I'd like, and I'm never sure what to do when it does happen.

Sometimes the long-answers work out fine, especially when I fall into a pattern that I'm comfortable with, such as an essay. However, when I don't naturally fall into a familiar structured writing format by feel as I write the post, it seems almost impossible for me to fix the problems through editing.

Usually I just leave a comment to the first person to point it out asking them for help breaking up the text walls, and usually they are willing to do so and that works out okay. However, I'd like to be able to fix these problems myself, though I'm not entirely sure why I struggle to do so.

How does one go about breaking up a text wall into a more easily digested format?

  • 1
    the answer you linked is not a text wall per se. It uses paragraphs and headings. It could use some more paragraphs, though. Your question here is a text wall. Its all one block of text with no paragraphs, and if it wasn#t for the bolding of the actual question one would have a hard time finding it. – Polygnome Feb 24 '17 at 10:51
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Organize your copy into thoughts. Break when you have a new one.

Paragraphs separate lengthy copy into smaller conceptual chunks. Each paragraph is supposed to be a new thought, more or less. When we were taught essay-writing in school, the format was:

  • First paragraph: introduction (and thesis statement), where you "tell 'em what you're gonna tell 'em." Sometimes the teacher was strict and insisted on three sentences which solely contained the points you wanted to make in each of the following three paragraphs of your essay.
  • Second, third, fourth etc. paragraphs: the body of your essay. Each paragraph is one major point. Anything in that paragraph must support your point and only that point.
  • Last paragraph: conclusion, where you reiterate your major points.

In your question, you have a several thoughts packed into a single paragraph. It looks like everything supports your opening sentence, so the reader has to read everything to understand your point. I would break it up something like this:

When I write answers to questions on the stack exchange network my end result is often quite lengthy. While length itself isn't a problem for me, sometimes my answers end up like this. This happens significantly more frequently than I'd like, and I'm never sure what to do when it does happen.

Sometimes the long-answers work out fine, especially when I fall into a pattern that I'm comfortable with, such as an essay. However, when I don't naturally fall into a familiar structured writing format by feel as I write the post, it seems almost impossible for me to fix the problems through editing.

Usually I just leave a comment to the first person to point it out asking them for help breaking up the text walls, and usually they are willing to do so and that works out okay. However, I'd like to be able to fix these problems myself, though I'm not entirely sure why I struggle to do so.

How does one go about breaking up a text wall into a more easily digested format?

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    I totally just stole your question formatting btw ^^; – the dark wanderer Feb 24 '17 at 20:35
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Writing answers is heavily dependent on your writing style, however, a good method to use is to write a general introduction and soft answer to tell people glancing at answers if your answer is right for them.

Here are some tips:

  • Summarize your answer briefly in a very short introduction sentence or paragraph.
  • Simplify your introduction as much as possible.
  • Continue your detailed answer in the following paragraphs.
  • If you're listing something, use bullet points.
  • If it's a long answer, designate sections with headers.

In long essays, wrap up with a conclusion summarizing your key points.

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