Writing for the Web

Write to meet your audiences' key goals and answer their questions

  • Understand what's important in the copy you are creating.
  • Take away choices and extraneous copy where it's not necessary.
  • Make choices clear and distinct.

Keep it short: Short sentences, short paragraphs

  • A paragraph should not be more than 50 words.
  • A one-sentence paragraph is okay. So are fragments.
  • Don't feel you have to write an introductory paragraph when you can just use a header.
  • Whenever possible, show don't tell.

Write Visually

Users don’t read from left to right, top to bottom.  They jump around looking for the best choice and pick the first one that looks like it might answer their question or might be interesting.

  • Use heading and subheads for scanning.
  • Use headers and subheaders when you change subjects or introduce a different idea  within the text.
  • Use bullets for items or choices.
  • Use numbered lists for instructions.

Pictures, Infographs, Charts and Tables

Sometimes the best way to say something isn’t to say it - but to draw it.

  • Think about whether an illustration, infograph or photograph can help to convey a complex idea.
  • Use tables or simple graphs to compare things.

Link to Other Pages with Purpose

A link should represent a question the user is asking:  Where are the ___?  Where Can I ___?

  • Each link leads to more specific information.  Content on the next screen answers questions.
  • When users click on words, they expect to see those words on the next page.
  • 5-7 word links are optimal.
  • Link within copy judiciously.  Don’t rely on a maze of links to convey your message.