Writing for the Internetby Vivian C.
Writing for the internet is in some ways very similar to print writing and nothing like it in others for the mere reason that reading on a screen is nothing like reading print.
According to studies:
- Nearly 80% of web readers scan the text
- Screen reading is at least 25% slower than reading print
- Less is more, that is readers understand more when you write less
- Optimum reading line length - 10-12 words
- Planning, logical structuring, a narrative voice, point of view, knowing your audience and tailoring your writing style accordingly
- Internet writing caters to readers who scan
Capturing readers' eyesHow do you capture the readers' eyes and attention? How do you help the scanning process? Here are ten pointers to help write a web friendly article.
1. Use headlines, sub-headers and captions
- Headlines and sub-headers are the first to be scanned so use catchy, punchy and poignant headers (remember the subheader tags H2 and H3 were created for a reason). And since studies have shown that readers focus on the text more than the graphics, write good captions.
- Indents can identify subpoints easily while lists and bullet points are scanner friendly. Lists and bullets also help in emphasizing key concepts. Use the numbered or ordered list when relevant (the OL tag).
Write effective bullet points:
Bullets aren't sentences, they're the key idea. Be consistent in the use of caps and tenses.
- One idea per paragraph is the motto of most web writers. Break down your ideas into topics and subtopics that can fit into short paragraphs (3-4 sentences).
- Because of slower screen reading, an article on the web should be 40%-50% shorter than a print article. Delete all unnecessary words and allow topic expansions with the use of links into secondary level pages (multilevel writing).
- Always give the most important facts and information first - at the beginning of the article, the subtopic or the paragraph.
- Don't be afraid to be you and to sound authoritative, it is the only way to gain the readers' trust. However, be accurate and credible - the only way to maintain that trust.
- A link, while providing additional information and resources, can also take the readers away from your site and they may never come back. Choose wisely.
- Try to imagine how your text would look on the screen.
Use pictures, tables and charts to help with concepts and explain, show data.
Bold text, or color it to emphasize ideas inside a sentence.
- The common advice is to use transition words, shorter words and active voice whenever possible as well as a less formal tone. I disagree with that last bit and prefer to adjust the tone (and some times the style) to the market in question. Writing a personal blog post is different from writing a financial article for a financial ezine. Use your judgment.
- When writing for the web, most times you don't have an editor or a second pair of eyes, therefore you must be your own. It is important that your site/article is consistent. Well-written, grammatically correct, fresh content is crucial to gaining and maintaining the readers as are frequent updates.
And most important - good content attracts good traffic.
Categories: guest, writing, freelance, articles, blogging