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Six Tips for Writing for the Web

By June Campbell

Knowing how to write for the web or for email is a valuable target in your Internet Marketing arsenal. It is also a challenge for many people. The good news is that with a little practice and by observing a few simple rules, you can greatly improve your web writing skills. You may not become the worlds best copywriter or you may not win a Pulitzer, but you can learn to write in terms that your web audience will understand.

Try these Six Tips for Writing for the Web:

1. Write in simple terms, unless you are writing specifically for a particular group of people that you know has highly developed language and comprehension skills. For example, if you are writing to physicians, lawyers or university professors, your writing style will naturally reflect that audience's level of sophistication. If you are writing for a general audience, however, you will do well to write at a grade eight level. Newspapers do this all the time - and it works well for them. If you are using MS Word to compose your writing, you can use that program's Spelling and Grammar check to identify the grade level.

2. Write in active voice, not passive voice. For example:

  1. Passive: The man was bit by the dog.
    Active: The dog bit the man
  2. Passive: This article was written by me.
    Active: I wrote this article
  3. Passive: The car that belongs to my brother was driven by Peter.
    Active: Peter drove my brother's car
  4. .

Active writing is clearer, flows better and is easier to understand.

3. Write short paragraphs and format for readability. When we are reading material on a computer screen, we understand it better when we see it in short blocks of text, perhaps three or four sentences to a paragraph. It's also a good idea to break your article up with headlines, sub-headlines, lists and bullet points. Again, this makes it easier to read.

4. Run a Spell Check and Grammar Check. Grammatical errors and misspelled words will discredit your whole message in some people's eyes. You may argue that your information is the important thing and that people should overlook a few errors for the sake of hearing your message. You may be correct-but unfortunately you will still lose potential customers or subscribers if you have misspellings and grammatical errors. It is sometimes acceptable to use bad grammar as a deliberate writing style - but only if you are certain your audience understands that this is a style and not lack of knowledge on your part.

5. Write with first and second person pronouns. In other words, use "I" (first person pronoun) and "you" (second person pronoun). This writing style is both casual and personal - good qualities when writing for the Web or email.

For example, you might write: "You will discover that this product meets your needs perfectly. I have developed it based on feedback from people just like you."

This style, using first and second person pronouns, is preferable to: "People find this product meets your needs perfectly. It was developed based on feedback from people from the XYZ industry."

6. Avoid using slang or jargon. Always remember that the web is international. Unless you are writing specifically for people in your own particular region, when writing for the Web, you will be reaching people from different cultures and different countries of the world. Although they may understand written English, they are unlikely to understand the slang and jargon. For example, a person from China may understand "The ebook costs twenty dollars", but do they understand, "The book costs twenty greenbacks" or "The book costs twenty bucks"?

Remember these few simple tips and your writing for the Web will reach wider audiences. That's what you want, isn't it?

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