Writing for the web

DoIT Communications suggested guidelines on writing for the web

Web copy is different from written copy. Some people will read every word we write. Most will just skim.

Be user focused

We frame our content in a fashion to best meet user needs.

Use plain language

Important info first

Create a hierarchy of information. Lead with the main point or the most important content, in sentences, paragraphs, sections, and pages.

Be concise

Use short words and sentences. Avoid unnecessary modifiers.

Be specific

Avoid vague language. Cut out fluff.

TL;DR (too long, didn’t read)

Do not underline text

Underline = link. Giving a sentence an underline for emphasis is misleading.

Chunk content

First sentence

Engage the reader by teasing what they will get out of the article.

First paragraph is also important

We aim to encourage the user to read more. We aim to be brief, clear, and cover broader concepts. Place the most important information at the top, extra info toward the bottom.

Use short paragraphs

In most cases, it’s best to use subheadings to clarify the subject of various sections on a page. Users want to skim and scan for information. Headings help this process exponentially.

People read in an “F” shape pattern.

Web content is read in a F-Shaped pattern
Nielson Norman Group. F-Shaped Pattern for Reading,  2006

This tells us:

Type your edited article out completely. Then, look again to cut your text until it is reduced to the most essential info.