blogging · writing

5 top tips for online writing

I have been busy getting ready for next semester and thought I would share my top 5 tips for online writing.  I think the fundamentals for good writing apply to online, just as they do for any other media, but there a few points worth reiterating and a few more worth considering.

  1. Short and direct: Reading online is typically 25% slower than print, so get to the point. Also, as with all writing,  simple, direct language communicates your thoughts more efficiently than a demonstration of  your knowledge of numerous adjectives.
  2. Linking: Allow the reader to branch off to other more detailed content by linking to your original sources. You spent all of that time finding the information so let your reader see it. As an online writer you have the unique ability to link readers directly to those supporting sources.
  3. Put the links in context: Carefully choose the words that you will use as the “anchor words” (those words that usually appear in blue underlined for you to click on) for that information. You should avoid URLs themselves written out and of course avoid like the plague  “click here”. Keep the number of anchor words short – two to three words work best.
  4. Start a conversation: It is part of the very fabric of the web – the circular conversation. By that I mean, that you can’t simply write something and send it off into the web universe and wipe your hands of it. To truly succeed in online writing you need to engage your audience in a conversation. But you cannot just ask for comment and not reply – this is where it must become circular – you must engage comments and then reply – especially to the negative ones.
  5. Keep your reader interested: Think about formatting and break up boring blocks of text using lists, bold sub headings and images.

These are my top 5 and have been heavily influenced by  Bill Dunphy’s Seven Tips to Writing like a Digital Native and the Knight Digital Media Center’s Online Journalism Wiki.

What tips would you add?

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