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Writing for the Web

Websites require a unique style of writing. Novelists paint a picture with words. Reporters report the news with dramatic flair. Academics explain complex ideas in context with citations. Web content writers share information as succinctly as possible.

People consume websites differently than other forms of media: they don’t read; they skim. They will read only about 20 percent of the words on the average page. 

How do you make your website easy for users to digest?

Be concise

Do not say in 150 words what could be said in 75. Do not say in 75 words what could be said in 30.

Write simply

Long sentences with complex structures that endeavor to explain in complicated terms a topic that could otherwise be described in a more straightforward manner are best avoided. Use simple sentences.

Avoid “marketingese”

Neutral language is easier to read and understand than subjective and boastful text. Be clear and direct.

Use the “Inverted Pyramid” style of writing

Put the essential and most interesting information at the beginning. Include additional information in order of diminishing importance.

Use keywords

Use terms that are commonly used to describe your topic. Avoid using proprietary terms and abbreviations as much as is possible.

Use headings

Break up your text with brief but descriptive headings and subheadings so users can find information faster.

Break up different ideas into different paragraphs

Long, dense blocks of text are intimidating to readers. Several short paragraphs are preferable to a single long paragraph.

Make your text skim-friendly

Use bulleted lists in place of long series or text lists.

Highlight only as necessary

Use bold very sparingly to draw attention to an important point.

Use the proper case

Sentence case is much easier to read than uppercase. To emphasize an important point, use bold.

Make links easy to identify

Links should be a consistent color and style. Do not change the color of a link to make it stand out. Do not underline any text since it may be confused for a link.


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