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The Section Break: Give Readers A Chance to Think

An online devotional for writers

A Word From The Word

Think about it overnight and remain silent. Interlude (Psalm 4:4, NLT)

A Word For Writers

The Section Break: a #devotional for writers based on Psalm 4:4 with Word Wise at Nonprofit Copywriter #WritingTips

A section break is an electronic marker that divides your text. You insert it into a document using your word processing software to indicate that a new bit of content is coming up. It’s a visual breather.

A section break also provides an opportunity for readers to think about the point you just made before they move on to the next. 

The term selah performs a similar role in scripture. It is used 74 times in the Hebrew Bible. The King James Version, the English Standard Version, and the New American Standard Version transliterate the Hebrew word phonetically. The New Living Translation uses the term “Interlude” instead.

Selah’s original meaning is not known. Various scholars have interpreted selah as a “division,” “pause,” or “break” – as a signal for a short time out.

The pause would have allowed musicians who performed the psalms to take a breath before moving on to the next section. Some scholars believe that the term is inserted to give worshippers a chance to stop and think more deeply about the preceding text.

While writers in ancient times had to use an actual word to indicate a section break, today we can use an invisible electronic marker. Your section break gives a signal to your readers to pause and process what they just finished reading before moving on.

A Wise Word

Use a section break to give readers a chance to think.

A Word To Pray

Gracious Father,

Thank you that you don’t expect me to process your principles all at one time. Even in scripture, you provide pauses so I have the chance to think things through. Help me to do the same for my readers. Show me where I should place section breaks.

In Jesus’s name, Amen.


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