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Resources for Online Writing

Whether it's an article in the weekly bulletin, a post on Facebook, or writing for this very website, a lot of communication both at UUCV and in the wider world happens online. But how do you write for an internet audience? Here are some resources for effective online writing. 

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For general writing tips, The Writer's style guide  is an easy-to-read general use manual for questions like: how do apostrophes work, again? Should I write 8 or eight? Do I want to use affect or effect?

If you want a more light-hearted look at casual grammar and usage, check out Grammar Girls's Quick and Dirty Tips, a podcast and blog about common mistakes we all make. For example, did you know it's okay to end a sentence with a preposition, or that one space after a period is standard when writing online?

To learn how to make your content more readable, Hubspot's The Art of Scannable Content offers a thorough guide on how to "write for scanners"; in other words, making your content quick and easy to digest even if people are just skimming through:

"Nielsen's research found that 79% of people scan web pages. That begs the question: If the majority of readers already prefer skimming, why wouldn't you want to make it an easy, enjoyable, and efficient process for them?

Ultimately, if you want people to read your writing, you have to adjust to your audience. You have to be empathetic and courteous. It's not about you, it's about them. Don't forget that."

The University of Maryland also offers some tips on best practices in regards to tone, length, formatting, and more:

"Link, link, and link to relevant information. If you mention the UM shuttle, link to it. If you want to include someone's email address, link their name. If you mention a faculty member, link to their bio page. Don't make people go and search for something you mention if it already has a page somewhere."

Finally, if you want to make sure what you write is accessible to people with disabilities, The Web Accessibility Initiative has several tips on how to write accessibly. For more information, also check out their article on why web accessibility is important:

"The Web is fundamentally designed to work for all people, whatever their hardware, software, language, location, or ability. When the Web meets this goal, it is accessible to people with a diverse range of hearing, movement, sight, and cognitive ability.

Thus the impact of disability is radically changed on the Web because the Web removes barriers to communication and interaction that many people face in the physical world. However, when web sites, applications, technologies, or tools are badly designed, they can create barriers that exclude people from using the Web.

Accessibility is essential for developers and organizations that want to create high quality websites and web tools, and not exclude people from using their products and services."

This is just a quick sample of advice on how to write online. Like all things, creating clear, well-written, and accessible internet content is a skill that must be practiced and can always be improved. Hopefully these resources can provide a helping hand when navigating the world of writing for online readers.

 

Danielle Ebert
Office Assistant