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Lansing Community College Library Services

Writing for the Web: Writing Content

Learn how to create content for the Library website.

Print vs. Web Writing

Writing for print is different than writing for the web because of how readers interact with content in each setting.

Print   Web
  • tells a story
  • has a beginning, middle, and end
  • uses complete sentences
  • uses serif fonts for body text
 
  • should be easy to scan
  • is topical
  • has a conversational tone
  • uses san-serif fonts for body text

Write for the Reader

Use words that resonate with the reader or they may not find what they're looking for.

Brevity

  • Use half of the word count of conventional writing.
  • Focus on content; does the content help the user achieve their goal?
  • Minimize the number of words in a sentence and sentences in a paragraph.
  • Use pronouns, avoid redundancy and wordiness.

Avoid Jargon

Avoid acronyms and library jargon, for example, instead of ILL, use Borrowing from other Libraries. If you use acronyms, define them the first time you use them, for example, Interlibrary Loan (ILL).

Eliminate Redundancies

Redundancies are words or phrases you don’t need because you already said the same thing:

  • At a later time > later
  • Level of coverage > coverage
  • At least 12 years of age or older > at least 12
  • Absolutely necessary > necessary
  • Completely finished > finished

Simple Words

From Ted-Ed - a video sharing site for educators

Tone/Voice

Focus on the user, not on the library. Talk to your site visitors. Use “I” and “you” for site visitors, “we” for the library and use an affirmative, active voice.

Link Language

Use Meaningful Language

  • Avoid using "click here" or "here" as link text.  Instead, use a brief but meaningful text link.
  • Link text should be descriptive, but clear and concise. For example, “Renew library materials” instead of “To renew, click here.”
  • Don’t make new program or product names into links by themselves, e.g. MultiSearch, instead – Search for articles and books – MultiSearch
  • Match links and page titles.
  • Use action phrases for action links, e.g. Reserve a group study room. Add a short description if people need it – or rewrite the link.
  • Use single nouns sparingly as links; longer, more descriptive links often work better.

Don't Repeat Headings in Links

  • Coordinate when you have multiple, similar links, The first word or phrase in a link should not be repeated in other links, e.g. Introduction to Library Resources for Business, Introduction to Library Resources for Mathematics – put common words as a heading.
  • Multiple links that point to the same page are an exception, in which case they should use the same link text

Don't Underline Text That is Not a Link

  • In print, headings are often underlined. Online, if text is underlined, people assume it is a link. So, do not underline text that is not a link.

Don't Use All Caps for Emphasis

  • Using all caps actually de-emphasises text by reducing shape contrast. Only use all caps for acronyms.