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Darlene Fichter

Phone: 306-966-7209
Fax: 306-966-6040
Email:darlene.fichter@usask.ca

Main Library
University of Saskatchewan
3 Campus Drive
Saskatoon, Saskatchewan
S7N 5A4

Writing for the Web Environment

Intranets 2002 - October 30, 2002

Often intranet Web teams focus all their time and effort on the main page and navigation. These are important without a doubt, but so is microcontent and the thousands of subpages.

What does the research show about how users view Web pages and how they use microcontent? As intranet Webmasters, how can we encourage better Web writing and microcontent development? This session addresses some solid strategies for writing in a Web environment.

View Writing for the Web Environment - PowerPoint Slides

Some resources, checklists, and tips on improving web writing are provided below.

Interested in a presentation or a workshop on this topic? For more information, email darlene.fichter@usask.ca.

Five Ways to Improve Your Writing


1. Strike out useless words.

Before:
  • This section describes the types of identification that would satisfy the application requirements for a library card.
 After:
  • What identification is needed when applying for a library card?

2. Avoid noun sandwiches.

Before:
  • Remote patron authenticated licensed database access.
After:
  • Connect to databases from home

3. Use you.

You personalizes your text and adds directness and clarity. For example:

Before:
  • Faculty, staff and students must return books by the end of the loan period.
If books are returned after the due date, fines will accrue.

After:

  • You must return books by the due date. You will be fined if books are returned late.

4. Cut out redundancies.

Examples:
  • Use ask instead of ask the question.
  • Use essential instead of absolutely essential.

Garbl's Fat-Free-Writing Links has a good list of redundancies.


5. Avoid jargon.

  • CINAHL, FELIX, collections, reference, circulation and so on.

Word Substitutions


There are many sites that offer word dictionaries and plain language examples. Two sites with a good selection of word substitutions are:

Reference Web Sites: Writing


Word Substitutions


There are many sites that offer word dictionaries and plain language examples.
Two sites with a good selection of word substitutions are:

Articles and Reference Sites


Zooming In: Writing Content for Intranets, Darlene Fichter, Online, Nov-Dec. 2001

Ten Web writing tips to gain your Web visitors' trust and keep them coming back for more, Constance Petersen (constance@smartisans.com), IBM DeveloperWorks, May 2001

Create User-Friendly Copy

Good Documents: How to write for the INTRAnet

Usable Web - Writing Styles

Writing for the Web - Jakob Nielsen

Writing for the Web - Sun Microsystems

Yale's Web Style Guide

Reference Web Sites: Plain Language


Better Writing. Plain English

Writing User Friendly Documents
 

Reference Web Sites: Usability


Jakob Nielsen.s Alertbox

The Top Ten New Mistakes of Web Design
Jakob Nielsen's Alertbox, May 30, 1999

Top Ten Mistakes Revisited Three Years Later
Jakob Nielsen's Alertbox, May 2, 1999

Keith Instone's Site Usable Web

Jared Spool's User Interface Engineering Site

Software Usability Research Laboratory Newsletter

Usability.gov - National Cancer Institute

Other Resources

Definitely Not Your Father's Newspaper

Stanford Poynter Project

Pre-Publication Checklists - Gerry Gaffney, Infodesign.com