It may be hard to fully accept for writers and readers alike, but it’s the truth. People read things in print differently than how they read things online.
That’s why it’s important for you to know where your audience will be reading information. Online readers are more likely to scan a document for information than actually read it. Therefore, the writing for the web is different than writing for print.
One thing that I’ve found so far in my education career is that web writing won’t be taught in your high school, or even in college level writing courses, even though the web is something that is now a part of daily life on both a personal and professional level.
To help you learn the style of writing for the web, here are some key tips:
1. Use easy to understand language
Keeping the language simple will help the reader understand the content. Write content close to a fifth grade reading level. Complicated language and phrases using jargon can confuse and bore readers unfamiliar with the topic.
Helpful Hint: You can use a readability checker, to help test what reading level your writing is at. Microsoft Office has one built in, and others are available online.
2. Make it easy to scan
Keep paragraphs short, use headings, numbered lists, and bullet points. These things make scanning a document easier by designing information in logical ways that can keep online readers engaged.
Helpful Hint: It is completely fine to use one sentence as a paragraph in online writing, especially if that sentence has a lot of information.
3. Be concise
Using lengthy words and phrases can take away from the main message of your content. Condensing information down to the main points will help make the information manageable.
Helpful Hint: Being concise may take some effort. Make sure to proofread content for simplicity.
4. Talk directly to the reader
Sometimes it can be scary to talk directly to readers within writing, but it is a powerful tool. This is called writing in second person point of view and can add a conversational tone to your writing. You are writing information for your readers, so why not write to them.
Helpful Hint: Try writing the information as if you were writing it in a letter to a friend.
5. Use active voice
Writing in active voice is more engaging than passive voice, and gives your message more energy. It is more interesting to read about people doing things than it is to read about people having things done to them.
Helpful Hint: Using active voice helps to make your message clearer.