Writing for the Web vs. Print

Writing for the Web vs. Print
“If you don’t have a skilled Web content writer or editor already, get one. Online content and printed
material require different writing styles, and not all writers can successfully move between the two.”
(Nielsen & Loranger, PWU, 258)
Nielsen on reading and writing Web pages
Nielsen, Jacob. 1 October 1997. Reading on the web. Useit.com
<http://www.useit.com/alertbox/9710a.html> 26 October 2006.
Nielsen claims that web pages should be scannable, which means we should
 highlight keywords
 provide meaningful sub-headings
 bullet or number lists
 limit ourselves to one idea per paragraph
 use an the inverted pyramid style, that is begin with the conclusion
 reduce the word count to less than ½ the word count we might use in a print document
He suggests reducing word count by
 being concise (but avoiding acronyms)
 using objective language (and not jargon)
The information from this 1997 column is repeated almost word for word in PWU (275).
Criticisms of Nielsen
Plain language: Improving communication from the federal government to the public. n.d.
U.S. Government <http://www.plainlanguage.gov/> 26 October 2006.
Gregory, Judy. 2004. Writing for the Web versus writing for print: Are they really so different? Technical
Communication 51 (2): 276-285.
Gregory argues that 7 basic guidelines that are often argued as unique to Web writing also apply to print:
 Structure and design (architecture and navigation) are concerns for Web writers
 Write no more than 50% of what you would write for print
 Write for scannability (skipping and skimming)
 The Web encourages restless reading
 Split information into coherent chunks
 Web writers can’t predict where their readers will start
 Readers “pull” the information they need from the Web
Writing for the Web vs. Print
Page 2
Using Nielsen’s list of techniques for creating scannable (and readable) Web pages, suggest revisions to
one page from each of the following three groups of MSU pages.
Write your notes below the appropriate link using annotation style, or you may want to copy and paste the
text to (a new section of) this document, and then quickly revise the text.
As you complete this assignment, consider how the Web pages might—or might not—be formatted in a
print document (such as the University Bulletin).
College and department pages
Colleges: http://www.mnsu.edu/supersite/academics/colleges.html
Communication Disorders: http://ahn.mnsu.edu/cd/
About or message pages
ROTC: http://ed.mnsu.edu/armyrotc/prospective/
College of Business: http://cob.mnsu.edu/dean/deanmessage.html
Content pages
Graduate Studies—thesis: http://grad.mnsu.edu/capstone/thesis.html
Graduate Studies—APP: http://grad.mnsu.edu/capstone/alternate.html