Keep it short: Web writing 101
Though I write every day, there’s always more to learn—especially in the web realm, where everything constantly changes, morphs, evolves and gets a silly new name. With this in mind, I signed up for a seminar at Emerson College: Web Writing and Social Media, taught by Trent Bagley, adjunct professor of marketing and the director of marketing for Emerson’s Department of Professional Studies and Special Programs.
The seminar was entertaining and informative; it confirmed some of what I already knew and taught me a few new tricks. Below are some of the highlights.
A web writer’s responsibilities:
- keep it short and to the point
- make it clear, relevant and interesting
- short sentences and words
- short paragraphs (5–6 lines)
- use headlines and subtitles
- link but don’t over-link
- use bulleted lists
- write in a conversational style
- avoid connectors like however, therefore, moreover (these make sentences longer)
- use active verbs
- use numerals (as opposed to spelling numbers)
- front-load your text and your links (important info at the beginning)
- be precise in your word choice
Though you may not be responsible for updating your institution’s website, everyone writes for the web in some capacity—e-mails, blogs, etc.—and can benefit from web writing skills. At least until the next big thing comes along.