This handout provides techniques for web writing. Whether you are writing a blog, or
developing a web page, the strategies, techniques, and tips below help you adhere to
the genre’s conventions.
Know your readers/audience: As with most writing genres, knowing your audience is
essential. Be aware of whom your readers are, for what they are looking, and what their
behavioural pattern online looks like—consider your site’s analytics.
Know your task and your users’ needs: As you write, keep your purpose at the forefront
of your process—and text. Attend to the reasons for which your users are reading your
page, and consider what it is you are providing to them. You can explicitly articulate
your purpose early in your piece.
Structure and Formatting
The structure of a web piece helps your readers follow seamlessly; more importantly, a
solid structure is helpful for users who will be skimming the article/page for information.
Your content should be scannable and not crowded. Users need to find important
information quickly and efficiently, so paragraphs should be small and visually
As you format, avoid highlighting content unnecessarily. Adhere to the four basic design
principles: Contrast, Repetition, Alignment, and Proximity.
Make sure that your work includes:
When writing for the web, follow the “Inverted Pyramid” approach, where you present
the most important information first. In doing so, you ensure that your readers will not
leave the page before getting the important messages. As you develop the piece, make
sure that your writing style is:
- Accessible—avoid abbreviations and jargons, and use simple words
- Active—avoid the passive voice
- Concise—avoid redundancy and unnecessary qualifiers
- Skim-friendly—avoid dense or long sentences; focus on one idea per paragraph
Linking your content is one of the many benefits of writing for the web. As you do so,
make sure that your links are semantically meaningful and integrate them as part of
your text. The links should be actionable; ideally, they would include an imperative verb
and invite action from the reader. When linking your content, make sure to link to the
original source—as opposed to a secondary source—so that your users do not have to
go looking for the reference. This approach reflects credibility and ensures ease of
access (in addition to enhancing search engine optimization).
Revision and Editing
As you finalize your online piece, proofread it a few times to ensure it is free of typos
and grammatical errors—for credibility purposes among others. In addition, make sure
to edit your work for concision and clarity. Ask yourself whether your sentences are
necessary for the message you are conveying, and whether or not they are as clear as
can be. Consider stepping away from the piece before publishing, then coming back to
edit/revise with fresh eyes. Once published, consider updating and revising the content
For more details and specifics as to writing for the web, see the following:
- Government of Canada’s Writing for the Web and Digital Communications resources
- Seattle U’s “Writing for the Web” concise guidelines
- University of Maryland’s “Best Practices for Web Writing”
- University of Waterloo’s “writing for the Web Tips”
- The extensive Web Style Guide