Writing for the web

Most people don’t read web pages word by word. Here are some tips about how to write for the web.

People won’t read all you write

There’s no point writing great big chunks of text or long articles.

No-one is going to read them much, or possibly even at all. Most people don’t read web pages word by word.

They scan and skim – looking for words and sentences that suggest it could be relevant to them – and skipping over everything else.

They’re also not going to spend time scrolling down long pages – frustration will usually set in first.

Short is always best

People read from computer screens in a different way to paper and that means you need to write in a different way.

  • Make it as short as you can. People generally read information from a screen more slowly than in print (up to 25% more slowly in fact), and that can put them off wanting to read lots of information. Short sentences of between 10 and 20 words are best.
  • Review what you’ve written – and then cut as much as you can without making it hard to understand. Web content should as a rule have half the word count of paper equivalents.

That doesn’t mean using jargon, acronyms and abbreviations to make it shorter.

Capture attention

Use scanning to work for you. The first sentence of the paragraph should sell the rest of it. Think of your content as a poster that has to capture the attention of people rushing past and that will help you think of how to capture attention. You should also use:

  • headings that tell people straight away what it’s about
  • sub-headings to break up text – make them explain what’s coming next
  • short words, short sentences and short paragraphs
  • keywords that readers will recognise and be looking for
  • occasional highlights to emphasise a point
  • hyperlinks to take those who really need it to more detail about topics

Sell the content

The top of your page is really valuable. It’s your shop window for attracting people to your information. Don’t waste it with unchanging welcome messages or general blurb.

Story structure

Start with the most important information (who, what, where, when, why – and why is it important?), back that up with the top points and finish with less important information: it helps people choose how much detail they want to know, and still get the important information.

Bullet points can help summarise information well online:

  • start with the most important information
  • back that up with the top points
  • finish with less important information
  • help people choose how much detail they want to know, and still get the important information

Don’t repeat

Make the most of what content is already there – provided it’s any good – by summarising briefly and then linking to it rather than repeating everything it covers. Balance that with making sure that people can understand your page on its own.

Encourage feedback

It’ll help save time and effort if people spot a problem with what you’ve written, fail to understand it and want to tell you what they think of it…



Blogging about: How To Find Your Ikigai And Transform Your Outlook On Life And Business

Listening to all the former colleagues and current contacts who’ve been kind enough to speak to me so far has prompted me to have a think about what I want – rather than just which roles I could potentially be placed in.

No-one has mentioned Ikigai – but the conversations so far have brought it to mind. I think I saw it first last year when Rich Baker posted something about it on LinkedIn.

With no direct English translation, it’s a term that embodies the idea of happiness in living.


I’m a sucker for a visual aide to thinking – especially if I can sketch it myself with sharpies on huge sheets of paper – but I’ve quickly realised that I need input from people who aren’t me.

I’d be grateful if you can help me to validate/ add to these lists:

Things I love
(I know that I should really be able to fill this one in by myself –
but sometimes I forget things)
Family and friends
Food (cooking, eating, watching TV about, Slimming World)
Reading and books
Running (and walking)
Travel (especially in Europe – and by train)
Rupaul’s Drag Race
Social Media
Organising/ planning/ writing lists
Learning new things
Things I am good at
(I might have been a bit too inside the box here –
what would you put on a list?)
Writing (copy editing/ subbing)
Organising/ planning/ writing lists
Social Media
Events (planning/ organising/ delivering)
Leading (teams)
Developing (teams)
Sharing enthusiasm
Getting to grips with a lot of information quickly
Explaining things
Empathy (putting myself in other people’s shoes)
Getting to the point
What I think the world needs
(Tell me I haven’t forgotten anything that you know I care about)
Less poverty
Less hunger
More equality (gender / LGBT+)
No homelessness
Toilets and sanitary-ware for all
No Brexit
Less Trump
More education
Social justice
No torture – more human rights
Animal protection
Employee Engagement
Trade unions
Less exclamation marks
Things I can be paid for
(Now then folks – keep it kind –
and again I think I’ve probably been a bit narrow with this)
Writing and editing
Comms planning
Employee engagement
Change communications
Internal comms
IC team set-up/ team development

Thank you – once I’ve got your input I will make a beautiful Venn diagram and use it to guide me.

Asleep – Yeah right

Writing about http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/8104519.stm

A linguistics professor was lecturing to her class one day. “In English,” she said, “A double negative forms a positive. In some languages, though, such as Russian, a double negative is still a negative. However, there is no language wherein a double positive can form a negative.”

A voice from the back of the room piped up, “Yeah . . .right.”

10% Discount on Demagogy

dem·a·gog·ic   Audio Help   [dem-uhgoj-ik, gog-, goh-jik] Pronunciation KeyShow IPA Pronunciation


of, pertaining to, or characteristic of a demagogue.
Also, dem·a·gog·i·cal.

[Origin: 1825–35; < Gk démagōgikós, equiv. to démagōg(ós) (see demagogue) + -ikos -ic]

dem·a·gog·i·cal·ly, adverb

der·ma·tol·o·gy   Audio Help   [dur-muhtoluh-jee] Pronunciation KeyShow IPA Pronunciation
the branch of medicine dealing with the skin and its diseases.

[Origin: 1810–20; dermato- + -logy]
der·ma·to·log·i·cal   Audio Help   [dur-muh-tl-oj-i-kuhl] Pronunciation KeyShow IPA Pronunciation, der·ma·to·log·ic, adjective

I’m quickly editing the OU Club Guide this morning (which includes listing of the discounts available to staff), have just had to substitute dermatological for demagogical in a Beauty Therapist’s listing!

What’s the Difference Between an Accountant and a Communicator?

A tangle.Note: the Accountant referred to is not Himself!

The difference is in the understanding of the word Clarity.

1. clearness or lucidity as to perception or understanding; freedom from indistinctness or ambiguity.
2. the state or quality of being clear or transparent to the eye; pellucidity: the clarity of pure water.

Clarity to a communicator means simplicity and ease of understanding.  Clarity to an accountant means freedom from ambiguity of indistinctinctness.

I would argue that the more clauses that are inserted into a sentence with the aim of avoiding ambiguity or indistinctness the less easy to understand it is.

You can take a girl out of Essex….

Essex GirlFrom my Dad…  Posted because I went home for the weekend and because I wore my white stilettos on Friday night (honestly) and because I don’t forward these things on but it’s worth sharing.

alma chizzit – A request to find the cost of an item 

amant – Quantity; sum total (“Thez a yuge amant of mud in Saffend”) 

assband – Unable to leave the house because of illness, disability etc 

awss – A four legged animal, on which money is won, or more likely lost (“That awss ya tipped cost me a fiver t’day”) 

branna – More brown than on a previous occasion (“Ere, Trace, ya look branna today, ave you been on sunbed?”) 

cort a panda – A rather large hamburger 

Dan in the maff – Unhappy (“Wossmatta, Trace, ya look a bit Dan in the maff”) 

eye-eels – Women’s shoes 

Furrock – The location of Lakeside Shopping Centre 

garrij – A building where a car is kept or repaired(Trace: “Oi, Darren, I fink the motah needs at go in the garrij cos it aint working proper”) 

Ibeefa – Balaeric holiday island 

lafarjik – Lacking in energy (“I feel all lafarjik“) 

OI OI! – Traditional greeting. Often heard from the doorway of pubs or during banging dance tunes at clubs 

paipa – The Sun, The Mirror or The Sport 

reband – The period of recovery and emotional turmoil after rejection by a lover (“I couldn’t elp it, I wuz on the reband from Craig”) 

Saffend – Essex coastal resort boasting the longest pleasure pier in the world. The place where the characters from TV’s, popular soap opera, Eastenders go on holiday 

tan – The city of 
London , the big smoke 

webbats – Querying the location something or someone is. (“Webbats is me dole card Trace? I’ve gotta sign on in arf hour”) 

wonnid – 1. Desired, needed. 2. Wanted by the police 

zaggerate – To suggest that something is bigger or better than it actually is. (“I told ya a fazzand times already”)

Phuket Thailand!


JUNO (in low tones) Dude, I’m pregnant.

LEAH Maybe it’s just a food baby. Did you have a big lunch?

JUNO It’s not a food baby. I took three pregnancy tests today. I am fo shiz up the spout.

LEAH How did you even generate enough pee for three pregnancy tests?

JUNO I drank like ten tons of Sunny Delight. Anyway, yeah. I’m pregnant. And you’re acting shockingly cavalier.

LEAH Is this for real? Like for real, for real?

JUNO Unfortunately, yes.

LEAH Oh my God! Oh shit! Phuket Thailand!

JUNO That’s the kind of emotion I was looking for in the first take.

LEAH Well, are you going to go to Havenbrooke or Women Now? You need a note from your parents for Havenbrooke.

JUNO I know. Women Now, I guess. The commercial says they help women now.

This week my dialogue will be mostly littered with grungy teen american slang – fo shiz.

Fabulous Florence in Pictures

Himself and the Ponte Vecchio

Gilli - Piazza della Repubblica

Inside Gilli

Trattoria in Oltrano

Trippa in the Mercado


Bithday Casey in Fiesole (overlooking Firenze)

In the Baths in Fiesole

We had a fabulous time, and marched our way around the churches and museums and ate our way round the foccaherias, gelaterias, mercado, trattorias and ristoranti!

My top food places of the trip were:

  1. Il Latini – Via dei Palchetti 6
  2. Trattoria Marione – Via della Spada 27/r
  3. Gelateria Carraira – at the Oltrano end of the Ponte alla Carraira (and the Foccaheria just round the corner from it).
  4. Mercato Centrale
  5. Zoe – Via dè Renai, 13/r

Il Latini

The most memorable meal of the week – not least because I hadn’t quite got my Italian tongue in yet. We queued briefly for a table and were then seated between a family of Italians and a French couple.

The waiter opened a 2-litre straw covered bottle of chianti for the table that we were sharing with the French couple and then asked us whether we wanted apperitivo. I thought that he meant apperatifs so tried to order some and failed. He then asked whether we wanted apperitivo or soup or pasta, we went for apperativo to give us some thinking space. I was getting a bit worried by this point.

Anyway a wonderful mezze of different appetiser dishes started to appear: beutiful fresh milky soft mozerella with ripe tomatoes, chicken liver crostinis, melon and prosciutto and a grain salad. Meanwhile I was asking the French lady whether she had understood the deal with the wine as none of us had touched it. She caught the waiter’s attention and asked him in French – it was being charged for by the glass so we tucked in.

The apperitivo plates were cleared and I has started to settle down assuming that a menu would soon be provided. But no, to my alarm, another waiter came back and asked us whether we wanted soup or pasta next! The whole meal continued in this way – it certainly kept us on our toes but the food and the atmosphere were wonderful!

  • Apperitivo
  • Penne with Ragu
  • A large thick beautiful pork steak with a salted spinach contorno
  • At this stage we gave up and said no to dessert!
  • Cantucci with Vin Santo
  • No to coffee
  • Limoncello gratis while we waited for the bill
  • Oh, and two glasses of wine each and a bottle of mineral water

Then papa, for this was a family-run restaurant, was finally found to give us the bill. He arrived at the table and our waited came up to recite, from memory, what we had had (right down to the correct number of glasses of wine)! €70!


For chilling, masses of free apperitivo (on a held-yourself basis), seeing and being seen and for Negronis. I am now waging a campaign to bring back Campari to the masses – it’s not all Luton Airport and Lorraine Chase you know!

Trattoria Marione

Wonderful plate of meats including a smoked lard. Fabulous piece of roasted pork rolled with sage – served with potatoes that had been roasted under the pork!

I do regret not having had a Bistecca alla Fiorentina though – especially after having read this review.

Never mind I have stroked the porcellino so I am destined to return to Florence and I can expand my knowledge then.

Bovine Scatology & Kakistocracy

Writing about


And about

Foyle’s Philavery – A Treasury of Unusual Words

Hooray for Christopher Foyle – a good Essex man from near Maldon – and, of course, something to do with a few big bookshops.

I was reminded of this just now (I confess I had forgotten it from this morning!) because I’m in the process of editing something written by an academic colleague.

The thing that reminded me was the question posed by Evan Davis: should we make a point of using obscure words to prolong their existance or should we concentrate on making ourselves understood using say the 800 most commonly-used words?

We certainly claim to have have a good many more words in English than in other languages – but see the Oxford Dictionaries on this….


A system of government by the least qualified or most unprincipled citizens.

Bovine Scatology

For those of you who love a good euphemism, Bovine Scatology is a term
coined by General Norman Schwarzkopf, first heard by the viewing public
at a press briefing on status of the air and ground campaigns during the
Persain Gulf War. The general referred to speculations by various
military pundits, employed by CNN and other news gathering/reporting
organizations, as “bovine scatology”.