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Key to Effective Web Writing

Effective online writing requires a new set of standards. The rules of english grammar haven’t changed, but their style and use have. The tenets of print and broadcast writing do not directly translate to web writing.

There is still hope. Journalists can easily translate their writing skills to effective web content by following these simple guidelines.

Headline

  • Quickly explain the story – cute headlines are fun, but readers prefer a straightforward account

Content

  • Remember your audience – determine your audience and write for them
  • Consider the most effective medium to tell the story (photo, video, audio, graphics, links, some combination)
  • Slow down – speed is important, but don’t sacrifice content for speed
  • Make meaning – Don’t just say what happened, tell why it matters.
  • Make it interactive – provide worthwhile links

Style

  • Keep sentences tight – one idea per sentence
  • Avoid long clauses
  • Write actively, not passively
  • Be creative – web readers are accepting of breezy conversational writing.
  • Don’t get sloppy – readers remember and won’t return
  • Keep it short – a good guideline is about 800 words
  • Use short blocks of text – 1 idea per paragraph
  • Make use of charts, graphs, information boxes and lists

 

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