Tips for Writing for the Web

Writing for the Web is different than writing for Print!

There are three basic guidelines for writing for the web:
  1. Be succinct
  2. Write for scanability
  3. Use keywords in your content

Be Succinct

  1. Concise
    • “Wasted words, wasted space’
    • Limit a page to one topic
    • Put information – carrying content within the first few words of the headline and paragraph text
  2. Concrete
    • Avoid words that do not have a specific, concrete meaning. (a historical offender: Facility)
    • Concentrate on keywords that your audience will be using to conduct searches
    • Opt for real-world examples that readers can relate to, instead of theory, when possible
  3. Clear writing

    • Focus on the reader’s experience and needs. As you write, put yourself in the reader’s frame of reference.
    • Make content actionable. The web surfer’s purpose is to find information, not be told a story.
    • Usually, the active voice is clearer than the passive voice; but not always.
    • Favor clear over clever.

Make it Scannable

  • Two or three levels of headlines (page header, subhead, sub-subhead)
  • Highlight keywords (boldface, colored, or hypertext links)
    • Use hypertext links to split up long information into multiple pages.
  • Bulleted lists
  • Short paragraphs – one idea per page
  • Inverted pyramid style of writing (Bottom Line Up Front)
  • Half the words (or less) of conventional

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