Remember the days when teachers would ask you to take notes, and everyone pulled a colorful notebook and their favorite ballpoint pen out? Now, if you look around a college classroom, you’ll see rows of glowing faces and hear the slight pitter-patter of keys typing. However, there is still always that one lone student- stuck in the stone age-
with their notepad and pen out. With the shift in technology, and rise in online news, blogs, and other endless media content, it’s no wonder that future journalists need to become well-versed in how to write for digital.
To learn how to write online content, we must first understand how our audience reads online content. A big part of the difference between online and print reading is the physical aspect of the computer versus the paper. A computer screen displays text at a lower resolution, so letters are fuzzier. So most people’s eyes seem to tire after long periods of online reading. Therefore, people usually scan words on a page. Writers should make important information stand out by bolding and writing concise sentences.
Online writers have a unique opportunity that print writers typically do not have. And this is to interact with their reader. Readers can usually post comments which the author can respond to. If you engage a reader, they will most likely return to your site. And as the author, make your reply comment stand out from the pack by using different color text or background for your comment.
Online writing has so many more opportunities than print. With pictures, video, infographics, links to external sites, there are so many resources at the fingertips (literally) of online writers. Take advantage of what is out there! But at the same time, use them wisely.
In summary, here are some quick and dirty tips for online writing…
Do’s and Don’ts for Online Writing:
1. Do bold and bulletpoint important content
2. Do respond to your comments
3. Do make headlines and keywords in stories search-engine friendly
4. Do add video and graphics
5. Don’t write long drawn out blocks of gray text
6. Do express one main point per sentence
7. Don’t write frightening and vague error messages
8. Do write alt text that is specific to each image.
9. Do write short specific page titles
10. Do eliminate unnecessary white space