8 Writing for the web

Writing for the web – KCL advice (This is a PDF; the full link is – http://issuu.com/kingscollegelondon/docs/writing_for_the_web/1 )

Naturally, we need to produce writing that attracts readers. You may be familiar with some of the tricks: for example, to start with a ‘hook’ that makes the reader want to read; this may be a controversial, or simply intriguing statement. But to keep the attention of the online reader, your text also needs to …. ? What?

To answer this, let’s approach from the opposite angle: what do we want to avoid? One common problem to avoid is writing the type of article that gets the response, “tl;dr”, which some have christened, “teal dear” – if you are curious, simply Google it….

One antidote to ‘tl;dr’ is:

  • Structure the text: Use headings.
  • Subheadings, subheadings, subheadings! Like bullet points, these provide clarity; indeed, they go well together.
  • Make the structure still more clear from the start: if the page is long, use a table of contents; if it is short, your headings & subheadings will do the job.
  • Summarise the “takeaway” message; again, you’re already doing this, when you write an abstract for a published article.

Further ideas for breaking up the text could be:

  • “writing with icons”, as seen in the ‘For Dummies’ series of books.
  • images, of course, but make sure they tell the story; if instead they look like ads, they are blanked out by readers – this is called ‘banner blindness’, perhaps you do it?
  • embedded objects: just like YouTube videos, but also from other sites; we’ll look at this in-depth, on another blog post.

The whole point is to get people reading. Then hopefully you will get them responding; here’s an example of a conversation taking place in the blog comments:


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