You are here

Writing for the Web

Writing copy for the web is unlike writing copy for any other medium. Both brevity and relevance are critical to capture the attention of two key audiences: readers and search engines. Readers want quick information, and search engines value relevant keywords and proper page structure.

Perhaps the number one priority while writing for the web is to think like a reader. In this case, that reader will most likely be a student or parent. Aim to structure paragraphs and pages in such a way that would help the reader find what they need as quickly as possible.

Brevity is key.

Statistically, users read only 20% of words on a page. Less is more in holding a user’s attention. Write short sentences, break paragraphs into manageable sections, and use bullet lists whenever possible. With smart phones and mobile browsers, navigating a wall of text on a small screen can be intimidating.

Bells and whistles can do more harm than good.

Contrary to popular belief, additional images, decorations, and graphics may not always be the best choice. When used sparingly, images and graphs are a welcome break from text. However, anything that is not directly relevant to the understanding or enhancement of the information should be spared.

Stay relevant.

Anecdotes and footnotes don’t belong on site pages. Keep text brief and use relevant words frequently – search engines appreciate the number of times keywords are mentioned. Viewers will also appreciate being able to obtain what they need quickly.

Use proper grammar and abbreviations.

See the list of ACES standards for titles and abbreviations (pdf).