How long is too long for content?

There is no such thing as content that is too long. There is, though, content that is too boring. After all, the chances are you have read a book of 70,000 words from cover to cover in one sitting because it gripped you. But I suspect you have also started reading Tweets of just 140 characters and became disinterested after the first dozen or so. The length of content has little to do with actual engagement; far more important is the interest and relevance of that content.

However, for most people in business there is not the time to read a novel’s worth of information every day of the week. No matter how interesting the content, the practicalities of day-to-work mean there must be some limits.

Thankfully some new research gives us a clear guide.


The study showed that most people in the business to business world want documents that are less than five pages long. In other words, your white papers or special reports only need to be four pages or fewer to satisfy the vast majority of people. Only 2% of people want more than five pages.

But that fails to take into account the “thud factor” – the impressive nature of a big document. Human beings “weigh things by the pound”, as it were. If your report is fat and weighty it is automatically deemed likely to be better than a report on the same subject that is thin and weedy.

So, how can you manage to have a “thud” and also satisfy people’s demand for documents under five pages?

That’s easy; instead of writing one big report, write lots and lots of short ones. In other words, if your website has a handful of lengthy white papers or special reports you’ll do better if you break them down into dozens of smaller ones. You still have the same “thud factor” due to the weight of material, but each one is more manageable for your visitors.

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