Writing for the web is a specific skill as you have to consider the different way in which people read text on websites, and also the importance of making your pages accessible and easy for search engines to find. All the general style guidelines apply, but the following guidance will also be useful. Advice and training is available for those writing for the University's web pages on a regular basis.
- Reduce the length of your text compared to print copy (some sources suggest reducing it by as much as fifty per cent). Avoid long pages of text which require users to 'scroll'
- Aim to keep paragraphs short (around 3-5 lines of text), and each containing one main information point
- Keep your text objective, rather than overtly 'promotional'. Web users are generally looking for specific information
- Each web page should have information on what to do next (ie contact details, web link, postal/email address etc)
- Make sure the text on each page is understandable without reference to other web pages on your site
- The user can 'land' on any one of your web pages so they may not read them in the order you envisage
- Put important information and action words at the beginning of sentences where possible.
Layout and formatting
- Your most important message should appear at the top of the page
- Use bulleted lists to break up text and highlight key points
- Only use underlined text if it is a hyperlink
- Break up the text with clear, meaningful sub headings.
- Use meaningful words for navigation or text links (eg 'read more about scholarships' not 'click here'; if the information on the web page is simply a list of short courses, navigate to it through a link called 'short courses' not 'developing your team', so your users know what to expect on the page)
- Write descriptive image captions for all imagery (useful for people with screen readers)
- Where you have a large amount of information or supporting documents, provide these as downloadable files. Provide a sentence or two on screen to summarise the content of each downloadable file.
Spelling: the Oxford English Dictionary.