When you are writing for the Web, keep in mind that most users do not read text word-for-word, but scan it quickly to locate the information they are looking for or a link to that information. Web pages can be made more scannable by using the following techniques:

  • highlighted keywords (hypertext links serve as one form of highlighting; typeface variations and color are others) meaningful sub-headings (not “clever” ones)
  • bulleted lists
  • one idea per paragraph (users will skip over any additional ideas if they are not caught by the first few words in the paragraph)
  • the inverted pyramid style, starting with the conclusion
  • half the word count (or less) than conventional writing

Once you have the information for each of your web pages, you must plan how to present it. Since most people begin scanning or reading at the top of a page, put your summary at the top. This type of writing is called inverted pyramid, because it presents the summary followed by more specific details rather than building toward a conclusion by laying a foundation of many facts and details.

Be considerate of your viewers. Present the information in a way that doesn’t require them to read long sentences. Divide large blocks of information into smaller ones where natural.

If you have a number of items to discuss, consider using a list instead of a sentence. Using lists allows people to scan the information quickly and sort through it for what they are looking for, without reading extraneous words.

Wordy Example:

Our electives include dance, drama, musical theater, costume design, and 3-D art. Students can pick two electives each semester. Scroll down this page for more information about each elective.

Concise Example:

Electives (Choose 2 each semester):

  • dance
  • drama
  • musical theater
  • costume design
  • 3-D art

Use the clearest and simplest language appropriate for the content. Site accessibility will be broadened for users who may have limited English proficiency.

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