Writing for the web has evolved throughout the years to accommodate readers' short attention spans. Web users rarely read entire pages and typically scan pages, pick out keywords and/or phrases, read in quick or short bursts, are action oriented, and search for bits of information that direct them toward a specific goal. Users will read longer pages if the content contains detailed information pertaining to their specific goal, which they are more likely to print out to read it.

Web Writing Tips

Good web writing follows the inverted pyramid style, borrowed from journalism.

  • Put the main idea or most important information first; start with the conclusion, follow with the details.
  • Chunk content: one idea/topic per paragraph, choose lists over paragraphs, and use half the word count of traditional writing.
  • Write clear, simple and effective content: easy to read for everyone, concise, and preferably in conversational style.
  • Use an active voice where the subject does the action: "The president released a statement." instead of "A statement was released by the president."
  • Shorten wordy phrases: "In the event that is snows, the parking hotline should be called prior to coming to campus." shortened to "It if snows, call the parking hotline before coming to campus."
  • Provide context: start with something the user already knows and then provide new information.

Good web writing requires good word choices. Jargon or academic speak may be confusing to some readers, so be sure to use simple word choices and sentence construction to maintain a clear message for all audiences.

Example: At the present time, Joe has acquired an abundance of credits in his course of study and should be eligible to graduate in May 2016.

Rewritten: Joe has earned enough credits in his major to graduate in May 2016.

  • Avoid the use of all caps in headlines, subheads or listings. Readability studies show that type in all caps is difficult to read. Use bold face for added emphasis.