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Writing for the web

How people read web content

  • Web users are task oriented. In a hurry.
  • They scan rather than read.
  • Therefore, the best strategy for writing web content is to make it scanable.
  • Most of what follows is based on this premise.

Cut your content by half

  • A good rule of thumb — Web content should only be half as much as print counterparts.
  • Start by eliminating hype, spin, marketing jargon.

Use the inverted pyramid approach

  • Think newspaper article. Think press release.
  • Put the most important information at the beginning, leave the least important for last.
  • Nobody's going to to read the last part anyway. (How often do you finish a newspaper article?)

One idea per paragraph

  • Readers typically only read the first or second sentence in a paragraph. Second or third ideas will be missed.
  • Keep paragraphs short.
  • Use simple sentence structures.

Use headings

  • Headings make your content easy to scan
  • Readers can quickly get the gist of the content
  • Readers can quickly find the information that is most useful to them

Use bulleted lists

  • Sentences containing lists should be rendered as bulleted lists
  • Use numbered lists when instructions are being given in sequential order

Use intuitive link text

  • Readers' eyes are drawn to links when scanning
  • Link text should be intuitive, describing what information the reader will get if the link is followed
  • Never use "click here" as link text

Additional Resources