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Writing For the Web
Transcript of Writing For the Web
How to make people read what you write. "Quotes" Echo Quote Attribution at start of sentence Dave Copeland
@bloodandvolume Use periods to delineate information
Commas can connect related/modifying ideas
Colons can organize and/or broadcast key points. Colons to Organize Punctuation simplifies writing "Here is a lesson in creative writing. First rule: Do not use semicolons. They are transvestite hermaphrodites representing absolutely nothing. All they do is show you've been to college." - Kurt Vonnegut Simple, Active Sentences Over 1,000 of the currently enrolled 10,418 students have encountered the disciplinary board this semester. Nearly one-in-ten Bridgewater State University students appeared before the disciplinary board this semester. Subject-Active Verb-Direct Object Be SPECIFIC and PLAIN Cars in this recall: 2005-10 Avalon, 2007-10 Camry and Tundra, 2008-10 Sequoia, 2009-10 RAV4, Corolla and Matrix, 2010 Highlander, 2009-10 Pontiac Vibe, a mechanical twin to the Matrix.
Not in this recall: Lexus or Scion models.
The Prius hybrid was part of a November recall and is not on the latest list. Common Quoting Problems "It's the end of an era," Cooper said in an interview. "We invented totally free checking and everyone copied it. It was a wonderful product. But the regulatory apparatus, misinterpreting what everyone wants, has changed that." No sentence without a fact. "Mathematics is about calculations" "Mathematics is a logical system which helps explain the things around us" "Mathematics is like a universal language which allows people to communicate and understand the world" Organize Reporting For Structure Make important information easy to find and understand Minimize complex, compound phrases This works: Why? Not enough white space
Design elements draw eye from text
Headline doesn't tell what entry is about
Paragraphs are long, uninviting
No easy way to tell what the entry is about Journalism's "nut graf" is THE story:
What happened (news)?
Where did it come from (context)?
What does it mean (significance)?
Why does it matter (impact)?
How big is it (scope)? Use journalism basics to organize any writing assignment: Bursts
Boxes BBB NOTE: For a K-12 version, look at the Learning Process Questionnaire (LPQ) Good news for writers:
"Text still matters." (ONA, 2009)
People more likely to read long stories online than in print (Poynter Eye Track Study)
But we need to keep in mind:
Readers "skan and skip" online.
Less than 30 seconds on home page.
Less than one minute on interior pages.
- Nielson Norman Group, 2009 The Problem The message you want to deliver: No point in writing if what you need to say doesn't register with readers. The audience you are trying to reach: Online, readers come from all over. Will they understand local references?. What we know: What defines effective writing? The medium you're using: Many of us are still in denial about the difference between the habits of online and print readers. Why it doesn't work: What DOESN'T work: In retrospect, the young man probably wishes he had just worn his rain jacket. As it was, he set out against the weather with an umbrella, a choice that in another time probably would have passed without consequence.
But in the age of the orange alert, when airport public announcement systems and news reports sound a thrum of warnings about dangers in our midst, the umbrella protruding from his backpack during a visit to the Burlington Mall yesterday looked, to some people, like a gun. Beautiful, but... One main idea per sentence. What DOES work? Simple, direct writing that conveys information quickly. Writing is VISUAL Writing Fundamentals The 3-2-1 Formula Organization Key Elements For every 1,000 words, consider including: - Prosser & Trigwell, 1997 One Photo or Graphic Two Links Three SubHeads 1. Priority: Figure out what is important and who cares. 3. Efficiency: Make it easy for readers to find information that is important to them. 4. Brevity: Keep pieces as short as possible without cutting key information. 2. Clarity: Get to the point and always be direct. 5. Transparency: c 6. Common Sense: Anticipate readers' questions, needs. From Jack Vance's 2004 novel "Lurulu" Subject and verb delayed
Multiple phrases and clauses
Multiple informational stops Descriptive, but... Instead of careful lavations with a few minims of the miraculous water, she bathed daily in one or another of the springs, and imbibed gallons of the fabulous flow of the streams. Significant, but... A former United Airlines ramp-services supervisor was awarded $3 million Friday, after a U.S. District Court jury in Denver found she was retaliated against because she complained of sex discrimination.
Jennifer McInerny, 37, of Centennial, was terminated from her job at United in March 2006 after 12 years at the company.
United spokeswoman Megan McCarthy on Friday said the company does not “tolerate discrimination in any form, and we are pleased the jury ruled in our favor on the discrimination claim. We are reviewing our options, including potential appeal, on the matter.”
Also, she noted that the award to McInerney could be reduced. Jacqui Banaszynski, Knight Chair Professor, The Missouri School of Journalism This doesn't work: Why not? Uses bold type to categorize information
Uses bullet points to accent key points
Shorter paragraphs create lots of white space A Boston Food Diary Get Rich Slowly Subheads help break info into readable "chunks." Links offer readers more information and help with transparency "This can be easier to read than one long, scrollable piece of text. The subdivisions can be as simple as who, what, when..." Prof. Clyde Bentley,
Missouri School of Journalism Wrong: Right: This recall includes the 2005-10 Avalon; 2007-10 Camry and Tundra; 2008-10 Sequoia; 2009-10 RAV4, Corolla and Matrix; and 2010 Highlander. It also covers the 2009-10 Pontiac Vibe, a mechanical twin to the Matrix. It does not include the Prius hybrid, which was in the November recall, or Lexus or Scion models. Wrong: Right: "I didn't have time to write a short letter, so I've written a long one instead." Avoid jargon, acronyms and vague terms.
Clear identification -- repeat as needed.
Avoid confusing pronouns. 1. Edit to strongest, essential statement 2. No echo quotes 3. Avoid info quotes Run-On Quote Until Thursday, Toyota had denied that there was a mechanical or electronic problem with the pedals. The company said the problem was “rare” but could result in a worn gas pedal being difficult to depress, slow to spring back or getting stuck partly depressed.
“Our investigation indicates that there is a possibility that certain accelerator pedal mechanisms may, in rare instances, mechanically stick in a partially depressed position or return slowly to the idle position,” said Irv Miller, a group vice president of Toyota Motors Sales U.S.A. "You're not happy if you're in Duluth and you're trying to buy gas at 2 a.m. and we don't authorize it" because the customer doesn't have overdraft protection, Cooper said. "I'd love to have that guy in Duluth call [Federal Reserve chairman] Ben Bernanke and say, 'Hey, I don't like your new rules.'" Spicy (but too long) Bill Cooper, chairman and chief executive officer of the Wayzata-based regional bank, said Thursday that new rules that limit overdraft fees will force the bank to introduce a monthly maintenance fee on more than 1 million checking accounts that previously had none. He declined to disclose the amount of the new fee, which will go into effect early this year. "You're not happy if you're in Duluth and you're trying to buy gas at 2 a.m. and we don't authorize it," Cooper said. Better: Before Thursday, Toyota had said pedals could stick in "rare" instances. Better: Cooper said as competitors copied his bank's free-checking model, regulatory pressure increased.
"It's the end of an era," Cooper said. Better:. Better: The bank will add a monthly maintenance fee to more than 1 million checking accounts, said Bill Cooper, head of the Wayzata-based regional bank. Be Literal Don't assume readers will have:
Knowledge of locations, titles, etc.
Background What do readers need? What do readers know already?
What do they need to know?
What's the most logical structure?
Don't avoid unanswered questions.
Use test readers. People read more online