08 Sep 09 J O U R3340 Writing For The Web


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Professor Neil Foote's lecture on writing for the web.

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08 Sep 09 J O U R3340 Writing For The Web

  1. 1. Writing for the Web<br />Sept. 8, 2009<br />JOUR 3340 – Online Journalism <br />
  2. 2. Style Tips<br />Here’s some advise from Jakob Nielsen, the guru of web design and usability:<br />Users do not read on the Web; instead they scan the pages, trying to pick out a few sentences or even parts of sentences to get the information they want<br />Users spend 4.4 seconds for every extra 100 words on a page <br />Users do not like long, scrolling pages: they prefer the text to be short and to the point <br />Users detest anything that seems like marketing fluff or overly hyped language (&quot;marketese&quot;) and prefer factual information. <br />
  3. 3. Writing Style – ‘Chunking’<br />Information broken into ‘chunks’ of information.<br />Web users prefer to print out long documents or save them on their hard drives. <br />Long stories on the web are hard to read. The more a reader needs to scroll, the less likely they are to read the story.<br />Source: Webstyle Guide: http://webstyleguide.com/site/chunk.html<br />
  4. 4. Style tips from Poynter<br />Make it tight and bright<br />Explain<br />“Banish gray” – long blocks of text<br />Link, link, link<br />http://www.poynter.org/content/content_view.asp?id=35378<br />
  5. 5. Writing Style – ‘Chunking’<br />Organizing information into relevant ‘chunks’ helps keep the reader interested. Facilitates adding links to enhance interactivity. Be careful: Don’t divide content into too many parts or readers will lose interest. <br />Chunking is a method to create consistency of web style, and helps readers understand the content flow on your site.<br />Source: Webstyle Guide: http://webstyleguide.com/site/chunk.html<br />
  6. 6. Writing Style<br />Headlines – Compelling – <br />On the web, headlines sell the story<br />Six to 10 words <br />Strong verbs <br />Most important items first<br />Question headlines workable<br />Blurbs<br />Summaries of story, often on home page and linked to full length story<br />Briefs<br />A complete story in just a few sentences.<br />
  7. 7. Writing Style<br />Conversational style<br />Cross between broadcast writing and print<br />Lively verbs, colorful adjectives and distinct nouns.<br />Active voice always!<br />Short paragraphs<br />Be aware of references to your sources<br />Consider using full name on second reference because you don’t know how story may link<br />
  8. 8. Additional Style Tips<br />Consider one idea per paragraph – even if it’s just one sentence.<br />Write in easily understood sentences.<br />Include links as part of your copy<br />E.g. Bill Gates [link to his bio] created Microsoft [link to microsoft.com] at a time when PCs were just beginning to become commonplace.<br />Think Globally. Avoid regional/local terms that may be misunderstood by the broader audience.<br />Develop a voice, a style, a flow.<br />
  9. 9. Web Story Structure<br />Get to the point<br />Story must be told in 50 words ... Then your reader MIGHT read the rest<br />REMEMBER: only about 100-150 lines per screen… and less if a reader is looking at story on a PDA.<br />Make everything you write relevant.<br />Constantly ask yourself: <br />Why should the reader care about this? <br />What elements of interactivity can be used to engage the reader to make the content more compelling?<br />