Writing for the Web

Writing for the Web (e.g. people scan rather than reading word for word)

Writing Style for Print vs. Web

We should accept that the Web is too fast-paced for big-picture learning. No problem; we have other media, and each has its strengths. At the same time, the Web is perfect for narrow, just-in-time learning of information nuggets — so long as the learner already has the conceptual framework in place to make sense of the facts.

Be Succinct! (Writing for the Web)

The three main guidelines for writing for the Web are:

Be succinct: write no more than 50% of the text you would have used in a hardcopy publication
Write for scannability: don’t require users to read long continuous blocks of text
Use hypertext to split up long information into multiple pages

Inverted Pyramids in Cyberspace

One of the occupational hazards of getting a Ph.D. is a distinct predilection for the traditional pyramid style of exposition. I normally write the way I was trained to write: starting with the foundation and gradually building to the conclusion.

Journalists have long adhered to the inverse approach: start the article by telling the reader the conclusion … follow by the most important supporting information, and end by giving the background.

Therefore, we would expect Web writers to split their writing into smaller, coherent pieces to avoid long scrolling pages. Each page would be structured as an inverted pyramid, but the entire work would seem more like a set of pyramids floating in cyberspace than as a traditional “article”. Unfortunately, it is hard to learn this new writing style. I am certainly not there yet myself, as you can see.