Monday, January 25, 2010

Writing for the Internet - Discussing and Debunking Myths

Over the next few weeks, I want to talk about writing for the Internet. There is a mountain of misconceptions about writing for the web. Let’s spend some time, debunking and discussing them.


People read the same way, no matter the medium

One of the great things about the Internet is the ease with which people can find information. Readers are often looking for information fast. They want to be able to read or scan the content quickly to find what they want. That means the author must make organization and readability of primary importance.

The writer must also take into consideration the delivery system of their medium. Studies show that people generally read up to 25% slower on computer screens. The reasons are complex, but here are a few:

  • Computer monitors are harder on the eye than paper.
  • They generally have fairly low resolution, so the words aren’t as sharp.
  • Also, while the contrast between ink and paper is usually strong and fairly consistent, monitor settings can vary widely depending on type and settings.

Because of these factors, most people find it tiring and even frustrating to read long articles online.

The Solution

Capitalize on the medium

People want information, so give it to them—up front. This is called Frontloading the paragraphs. Writers are taught to work up to the information, building a case for its validity. Instead, state the information as succinctly as possible, then begin the case building.

  • Think of writing articles for print medium as building a pyramid.
  • Writing for the web turns the pyramid upside down.

Learn how to format

  • Don’t indent paragraphs, instead skip a line between them. This gives the reader’s eyes a chance to rest.
  • Utilize headings, lists and bullet points. This makes scanning for information much simpler than digging it out of a paragraph.
  • Keep the paragraphs short, no more than 100 words.

Now it’s your turn. Share some tips you’ve found for writing on the web.

Keep the Conversation Going,


  1. Good article, Edie. Thanks for sharing it.

  2. Hi Edie: I found your Post to be very helpful! Not only did I learn some do's and don’ts when writing on the Medium of the Web; I also learned the reason behind the recommendations. Thanks.