Writing for the Web

  • Be concise. Keep word counts low, especially on landing pages that should be telling the story rather than conveying lots of detailed information. Most basic informational pages ought to be no longer than 400–500 words.
  • Use an opening paragraph to summarize content. When a web page is constructed with concise, thoughtful opening paragraphs, a visitor can quickly browse to get an accurate sense of the whole institution’s character. This helps increase visitor interest and attachment.
  • Use plain language. Reading through a web page, any visitor should be able to quickly understand what you are communicating to them. One of the best ways to check the style of web writing is to read it to yourself out loud. If it sounds natural, it’s likely to be good.
  • Use text formatting, like bulleted lists, pull quotes, callout boxes, and paragraph breaks to quickly convey information. Most basic content pages shouldn’t have more than one or two bulleted or numbered lists. If you have a page that is burdened with lots of lists, you may want to consider alternative ways of presenting that content (contact our office if you need advice or assistance).
  • Keep paragraphs short and use subheadings. Along with short paragraphs, breaking up a page with subheadings helps a reader quickly determine what information matches their needs. “Overuse white space” is a good rule of thumb for web writing. Reading from computer screens is on average 25 percent slower than from paper. Short paragraphs and frequent subheadings give users more room to read.