WebRef Update: Featured Article: Webnotes: Writing for the Web | 2 | WebReference

WebRef Update: Featured Article: Webnotes: Writing for the Web | 2

Webnotes: Writing for the Web

The Great Pyramids

Because readers on the Web demand instant gratification, Web writers would do well to borrow the inverted pyramid custom for written material, from the news industry. With the inverted pyramid, the most important information is offered first, trailed by detail in a descending order of importance. Headings and captions should convey a crystal clear and concise understanding of its supporting text, and be capable of standing on its own. This 'micro-content' should be no longer than five to eight words and offer conclusions and summaries that help the reader/browser quickly understand the nature of the text. Avoid teasers or cleverness like the above heading, "The Great Pyramids", for example, which was written originally for a print publication. Online such wit (If I may be so bold) is more of a detriment than an aid. Because of the Web's reduced capacity for visible written content, the lead - the first two or three sentences of written material - should then engage the reader with the most important facts to be communicated.

An Historical Aside

During the American Civil War, an entire news story took too long to transmit across wire via Morse code. So, field reporters wired their stories starting with primary information first, a more efficient way to get important facts to press. The story was supported with as many lesser important fact as was possible during one telegraph transmission. In written form, this evolved into a news style referred to as the Inverted Pyramid, which stands as a standardized method for writing news stories.

A few suggestions for effective Web content:

* Use bulleted items: Short, high-impact sentences that attract attention.

* Use hyperlinks at the beginning of the writing that are book marked to specific points of interest within the text, allowing readers to dive directly into their desired information.

* Use a series of inverted pyramids in presenting information. The inverted pyramid style of writing presents important information first, and supports that information thereafter with detail.

* Use headings wisely. Make sure that headings are used often and are short and concise.

* Use hyperlinks to add credibility and support your material. Web readers like hyperlinks to outside sources that are reliable and trustworthy. A caveat: use them sparingly or you risk losing your reader to another site entirely!

* Use objective language. Readers do not respond favorably to writings with an overt or obvious agenda. Web writings should be generously supported with evidence and remain objective.

About the author:

Robert Anthony has been a freelance author, marketing consultant and technical writer for more than 20 years. He has been a Web content specialist since 1994 and is the co-founder of Online Content Development Theory (OCDT). Check out the content of his Web site at www.profilesonline.com. Comments, questions or suggestions for future columns are welcome at editor@profilesonline.com.

Writing for the Web

This article originally appeared in the October 5, 2000 edition of the WebReference Update Newsletter.


Comments are welcome
Written by Robert Anthony and

Revised: Oct 5, 2000

URL: http://webreference.com/new/webnotes2.html