Kirsop Labs

Skills development for science students everywhere

Writing for the web – top tips

Watch Out For Those Speed Bumps

If you’re thinking about writing for the web, here are some points to bear in mind. Great advice for students starting out on a writing career. Use this as a guide when you proof-read and edit your own work.

1. Use Easy to Understand Language

People use the web to dip in and out quickly, to find an answer to a question. They don’t use it to practise their search skills. Use plain English to simplify your language and keep the sentences short.

2. Keep it Short and Focused

If you write about too many things at once, 2 things will  happen.

  • Your readers’ attention starts to wander – they miss the bits you’re trying to get across as they scan through the page.
  • Your readers will become confused about your message – they’ll go elsewhere for their quick answer.

Short, focused content =  more chance of your article being found by search engines. When you’re writing for the web, try to get your important/key words to appear at the beginning of sentences, headings and bullets.

 3. Make it Informal and Chatty

Get to the point. Use everyday, real words and phrases. When you read your article back, does it flow smoothly or do you stumble in places? Yes, probably. Have a read of the article link at the end on “speed bumps”. It’s great advice on “what not to do” when writing for the web. Your content should sound as if you’re talking to your reader. Use I’m instead of I am, use don’t instead of do not – this is how we talk in real life. It’s not always going to be appropriate though, so be selective.

4. Headings, Headings, Headings

These are crucial to let people know where to go and what to expect next. They’re your direction signs. Everyone’s time is precious and we’re all looking for quick answers to queries. Short descriptive headings and sub-headings throughout your content let people know if they’re in the right place.

Follow up your headings with a couple of sentences or paragraphs.

If you have more than two paragraphs, read it through again and see if you can break it up.

Which leads nicely on to……

5. Structure your Page

Writing for the web needs to be structured. If you stick to these guidelines the structure will take care of itself. Short sentences, focused content, descriptive headings – all help to break up the copy. It makes it easier to follow, and if your readers like it they’ll read your stuff again.

I hope this is helpful to anyone thinking about writing for KirsopLabs, and if you want to know a bit more about speedbumps, take a look at this article by Michael LaRocca. It’s a great piece of advice on good scientific writing, either for the web or if you’re writing your first academic paper.

Posted under: Communication Skills

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About Dr Allison Kirsop

Co-founder of the KirsopLabs project, and Editorial Manager of Neuroendocrinology, a peer-review Medical Sciences journal. Writing for a science blog is a great way for students to get published early in their career and great for a CV. Drop me a line if you'd like to discuss how to get involved with the KLabs project.

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