Writing Content for Web Readers
Follow these guidelines if you want your Web pages to:
- be easier for your human readers to understand and use
- show up better in search results.
Choose content that helps your readers do tasks that matter to them.
Your history, mission, or organizational structure are unlikely to help your readers do what they want to do. Don't make them read through that to get to the information they want.
Use standard English.
"Standard" doesn't have to mean "formal." It does mean:
- Follow the The Associated Press (AP) Stylebook, with the modifications noted in the college's styleguide.
- Use the Mirriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary as a spelling reference, in accordance with the college's styleguide.
- Avoid slang and colloquialisms.
- Use contractions in appropriate contexts.
- Use personal pronouns such as "you" or "we" in appropriate contexts; avoid using "I."
Write to an eighth-grade reading level.
Make your motto: "Write to express, not to impress."
- Use simple, common words. Only use jargon, big or less-familiar words when you really need them.
- Use concrete, specific words.
- Avoid using different words to mean the same thing. If you mention a "shovel" in one place on your site, don't call it a "tool for delving" somewhere else.
- Use simple sentence structures and make most sentences short.
- Use the active voice.
- Be concise.
Put key information words at the start of:
- opening sentences of pages and paragraphs
Phrase links with words that describe where the link goes.
Avoid "click here," "follow this link" and similar phrasing. Instead, phrase links so that they make sense to a person reading a printed version of the page. For example:
- Instead of "click here" for term dates," try "see term dates."
- Instead of, "follow this link to see a list of all general education courses," try, "see a list of all general education courses."