5 Rules for Writing Online

The way one writes for print is different from the way one writes for online reading.

Here are some tips to help your online writing be more accessible to readers, based on the way people read online.

1. Write succinctly.

Forget flowery prose. Web readers want to find what they came to the webpage for. Give them the facts.

Sure, make it creative and interesting but don't get bogged down in minutia or too much description or the reader will just move on.

2. Write in easily understood language.

Don't write like an erudite college professor. Save your twenty dollar words for your thesis. Use the words everyone uses. In other words, keep the tone casual as if you were having a conversation with someone.

3. Write short paragraphs.

Don't create huge long blocks of text. When you come across a post online that is margin to margin text of long sentences and paragraphs, do you stop and read? If you're like me, the answer is no. 

My eyes glaze over and I go to another site with easier to grasp text. The eye travels down a block of text to grab the sense of the post or article. (If you ever took speed-reading training, that is the way one is taught to read fast.)

4. Break up the flow of text with sub-headings and images.

Use whatever works in the context of your post to break up the text passages, i.e., sub-headings, bold words or phrases, the aforementioned short paragraphs, and images. 

5. When possible, give bullet points or numbered lists.

Don't get carried away in making lists, etc. They should be short too.

Takeaway Truth

If what you're writing can only be done with a long post, break the post into parts. Better to post on the same topic again than to post something so long that no one will take the time to read it.

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  1. One of my editors reminds me to use the twenty-five cent words and save the ten dollar ones. In our family, we use the ten dollar words so I have to be reminded occasionally. I used to have that grade level evaluator attached to my spell check but when I got a new computer, that disappeared. I need to find it and install it on my current PC. Good post as usual.

    1. I was shocked many years ago when I was told newspapers were written for a 6th grader's education level.