Writing Well for the Web

Apr 19 18:41 2006 Francis Dower Print This Article

If you expect your potential clients to read the texts on your site, be especially particular about the content. Writing for the web has its own peculiarities in comparison with common publications.

Most of the information we get from World Wide Web is presented in the form of the text. However the users do not read the sites in the same way as they read newspapers,Guest Posting magazines, books and other printed materials. Text written for the web should contribute to fast, convenient and easy perception of the material presented on the screen. Text consists of words, phrases, sentences, paragraphs etc. So, it is obvious that the quality of the text directly depends on the quality of its components. That is why I decided to highlight the requirements to the integral elements of the text to ensure high usability of the whole text you are going to write. Write in a plain language, prefer commonly-used words. Avoid jargon and colloquial phrases.

Do not apply specific terms where you can do without them.  However there is an exception. If your site is targeted at a specific audience, you can use special terms if it helps the visitors to understand the information better. Web writers are not writers, in fact.  They are deprived of the right to use any stylistic devices such as metaphors, allegories and similes that only confuse the reader. They are to make the idea clear from the very first phrase.  They can’t afford themselves to be humorous whenever they want. Sometimes copywriters are carried away with stylistic decorations of the texts, thinking that it will make the text elegant and original.  But graceful stylistic devices good for fiction and poetry look alien on the informational site. Be specific and stick to the point: less generalities and more facts and useful information. Don’t write commonly- known things. Divide long subordinate clauses into several short ones. Once you have written your text, try to shorten it cutting back secondary minor fragments. A competent author does not need to use complex sentence constructions. Paragraphs should not be too big: not more than six- seven sentences. Headlines should be informative and clear.  They should present the idea of the text that follows (e.g. headline custom research paper clearly tells what information follows it).

First, it saves the reader from going through a lot of unnecessary material and he just gets to the point.  Second, they are often used individually: seeing a headline, a user should decide whether he needs to download the complete text. When you enumerate something, use bulleted or marked lists. Hyperlinks are the basic advantage of the Web, but if used excessively, they may turn into the main disadvantage.  A correct usage of the hyperlinks is also an art. Provide links to information sources or to explain specific terms.  Think of the visitors’ routes across the hyperlink content, avoid complicated and confusing constructions. A helpful warning of using links is given at http://www.dartmouth.edu/~webteach/articles/text.html: “Links are useful, but only within the context of a narrative. Use links to support your presentation – to provide information that is not critical toy our argument but may be of use. And remember that links break – Web pages change, move, or are removed, - so the coherence of your presentation should not rely on content from linked sites”.

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Francis Dower
Francis Dower

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