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5 Rules for Digital Writing

Follow these rules for great digital writing:
1. Be Succinct.
Write fewer words and keep sentences tight. Omit unnecessary words. Use simple sentence structure. Often, people are searching online for a specific piece of information.
Rules of thumb:

  • No more than 2 sentences per paragraph
  • No more than 14 words per sentence
  • No more than 5 syllables per word

2. Write for Scannability.
People rarely read Web pages word by word. Instead, they scan the page, picking out key words and phrases.

  • Highlight key words so they’ll catch the reader’s eye. Hypertext links serve as one form of highlighting and they are a powerful tool for search-engine optimization (SEO). The next section discusses search-engine optimization in detail.
  • Label your links within sentences with the title of the page to which it links.
  • Use meaningful sub-heads, avoid clever ones. They don’t resonate with the search engines.
  • Use bulleted or numbered lists.
  • Include only one idea per paragraph so users can immediately grasp the concept.

3. Divide Your Information Into Chunks.
You don’t need to sacrifice depth of content. Instead, split the information up into multiple paragraphs connected by hypertext links. Each page can be brief and yet the sum of the content can contain as much or more information as a printed article.
4. Use the Inverted Pyramid Style.
Write like a journalist. Put key information (who, what, when, where and how) into the first paragraph. Start by telling readers the conclusion so they can get the main point and move on. Be objective in your writing style. Avoid inflated language like “best ever.”
5. Update Facts Frequently.It’s your content, so it’s your responsibility to keep it current. Once it’s there, you should set up a schedule to review and update the content on a regular basis. See “Archiving: Setting End Dates for Content.”

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