Writing for the web

Aims and objectives

This module will:

  • explain how to write for online audiences
  • explore different ways to produce online content

After completing this module, you will be able to:

  • write effectively for online platforms
  • implement techniques to make online content accessible to all
  • select appropriate online platforms to publish web content

3. Write web content

Use techniques that make it easier for your audience to quickly find and read your content.

Plain language

Use plain language when you write online content. Plain language is concise, well structured and easy to understand. If you use common terms and simple sentences it will be quicker for your audience to read your content.

Tips for writing in plain language

Simple words and phrases

Use common, everyday words so that your audience doesn't have to work hard to understand your content. Use terms consistently. Explain technical terms and avoid jargon. Jargon is words and phrases used by particular groups that others may find difficult to understand.

Examples of simple words: 

  • get rather than "obtain"
  • because rather than "as a consequence of"

See a list of simple word alternatives.

Short sentences

Keep sentences short (15 to 20 words). Add another sentence, rather than using additional punctuation or words to make a longer sentence.


Use pronouns (you, we, our) to refer to your users and your organisation. Your users will feel like you are talking to them and it helps keep sentences simple.

Example: You can... rather than "customers can..." 

Active voice

Use active voice rather than passive voice, whenever possible. Active voice makes it clear who has to do the action and usually allows you to say the same thing with fewer words.

Example: You must submit the form to apply rather than "The application must be submitted using the form."


Minimise your use of abbreviations. Define the abbreviation the first time you use it, unless it is in common usage.

Example format: Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 


Using plain language will improve the readability of your content. Readability is a measure of how easy it is to read and understand written content. The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) recommends that content can be understood by a person with a reading ability of lower secondary education. In Australia this would be grade 7 or 8 or about 12 to 14 years old. 

Think about the reading level of your target audience to decide the appropriate readability. If you are writing about a complex or technical topic, you may think that you need to use complicated sentences and terminology. In fact, research shows that even those with specialist knowledge prefer plain English

Tools for checking readability

There are tools available to check the readability of your text. The results can give you a rough indication that you are writing at a level to suit your audience. Find out how the readability score is calculated in these tools:

Try the Hemingway Editor. It's easy to use and gives helpful hints on how to improve the readability of your writing.

  1. Paste your content onto the page
  2. Click Edit to see your results

Duration:   Approximately 20 minutes

Graduate attributes

Knowledge and skills you can gain to contribute to your Graduate attributes:

Effective communication Effective communication

 Independence and creativity

 Ethical and social understanding

Check your knowledge

Check what you know about this topic:

Take the quiz

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