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

2. Plan the structure

Structure your writing so that your audience can quickly understand the purpose of your content. Put the most important information first and make it easy to scan the main points. 

Prepare an outline

Photo by William Iven on Unsplash

Your outline can be a simple overview or very detailed. 

  1. List all the content you want to cover
  2. Group related content together
  3. Put the content into a logical order
  4. Move the most important content to the top

4Syllables has a planning guide and template for web writing.

Structure your content

Use these techniques to structure your content for easy scanning.

Emphasise important information

Use an inverted pyramid or "front-loading" technique:

  • Use headings and subheadings to divide your content into smaller chunks that are easier to scan
  • Put your key message in the first paragraph
  • Cover the essential content first and then follow up with additional information
  • Start sentences with key words

Useful headings and subheadings

Use heading styles in the correct order. Heading titles should be concise and accurately describe the page, section or paragraph. Don't skip heading levels, as this will affect the accessibility of your content. Read more about web accessibility in section 4.

Paragraphs

Large blocks of text will put off online users. Paragraphs should be short and cover a single topic. 

Lists

Lists are easy to scan and often require fewer words. Use:

  • numbered lists for steps
  • bulleted lists for important series of information or items.

Try not to repeat words at the start of each list item. This makes the list harder to scan. Consider this example:


Too repetitive —

At the beach:

  • you should swim between the flags
  • you should use sunscreen
  • you should  wear a hat
  • don't forget to drink water.

Better format —

At the beach you should:

  • swim between the flags
  • use sunscreen
  • wear a hat
  • remember to drink water.

Emphasise important words

Bold key words and phrases in sentences but don't overdo it as this makes it harder to read. 

You should italicise any quotes.

Links

Use descriptive links. Click here is not a descriptive link. Let your user know what will happen when they click on the link so they understand why it's worth clicking on e.g. Templates, checklists and tips for web writing.

If you link to a video, PDF, document or some other format, describe what it is in the link text. It is also good to indicate the length of the video or the file size e.g.

Keep to the generally accepted web standard blue font colour that users expect for unvisited links. Don't make your audience work hard to find the link.

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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