Top 5 Tips: Writing for the Web

Photo: Matt Brown

Matt Brown

Writing for the Web can be a challenge. You may ask, “What tone should I take?” or, “How long should my post be?” However, you may be forgetting an important question.

“How should I format my article for the Web?”

Without proper formatting, readers may not finish your article—or even start.

Why formatting is important

We live in a digital world. Readers have become—or rather mutated into—scanners. No, it’s not science-fiction, it’s reality.

We’ve become Web page parsing machines that extract vital information and move on. According to Jakob Nielsen, users read 20 percent of text and spend less than four seconds on a given page. That’s a lot of content your readers aren’t reading.

What can you do?

Your best approach is to make your content scan-able. Here are five tips to make your content Web-friendly.

  1. Subheads: Break content into small chunks with subheads to allow readers to zero-in on what they’re looking for.
  2. Bullets: Bulleted lists are easier to scan than comma-separated lists. Use them to make concise and effective statements.
  3. Never indent: Indenting may be the status-quo in print, but the Web is different. Set paragraphs apart with a space between them.
  4. Keep content short: If you have 1,000 words to write on a particular subject, break the post into a series of smaller, more focused posts.
  5. Use hyperlinks: If you discuss a particular topic in two different posts, hyperlink them to help readers easily locate posts on similar topics. This draws attention to recurring themes on your site—and condenses your content.

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