Writing for the internet – whether for an e-zine, an online news site or a blog – is very different from writing a feature for a newspaper or a magazine. There are a number of things you should consider when writing for the web. You don’t need to have an English degree to understand the basics – you just need to know how to write and enjoy doing so.
Keep it short and sweet
People tend to skim-read when reading content on the internet. Long-winded paragraphs and flowery language are best left to novels and poetry. Your sentences should be as concise and clear as you can make them – use only the words you need to get your message across. According to Kathy Henning, as a general rule, online text should have half as many words as print text, but often one-quarter or even one-tenth will do.
Use line breaks and lists
You should break up your content into bite-sized paragraphs and use lists to illustrate your article. Lists are easy to scan – especially if you keep them short.
It may be tempting to write about your particularly bad day at work, but if it doesn’t relate to your website, leave it out. You can assume, quite rightly, that your readers won’t care – even if you do.
Be factually accurate
You want to be a trusted authority on your chosen subject. If you’re trusted, readers will return to your site time and again. The one thing that can break that trust is if you post information that isn’t factually accurate. Double-check any facts and figures before you press publish.
Grammar and punctuation
It’s important to properly proofread your work. Bad spelling and grammatical errors will send people away from your website.
- How to write for the web – Jakob Nielsen
- Seven qualities of highly successful web writing – Kathy Henning