MedNet

Writing for the Web

​​​​As is true for other media, writing effectively for the web has its own set of rules and conventions.

Tips for Writing for the Web

Know Your Audience

  • Readers come to a page for a purpose – to complete a task or to obtain information. Determine the reader’s purpose for visiting each page and keep it in mind while writing.
  • Reflect on the following questions before writing:
    • Who is the audience?
    • Why are they visiting this page?
    • What do they already know?
    • What do they need to know to successfully complete their purpose?
    • What would you like them to do and/ or know after visiting the page?

Less is More

  • Be concise and limit the length of text. People read more slowly from computer screens than from paper. Make it quick and easy for people to read each page.

Plain Language

  • Use simple, straightforward and objective language. Remove extra words and avoid ambiguous words.

Voice

  • Use an active voice and simple verbs.
    • Active: "Complete the application form and sign it."
    • Passive: "After being filled in, the application form should be signed."

Terminology

  • Define each acronym the first time it is used on a page.
  • Be consistent with terms.
  • Avoid colloquialisms and jargon.

Style Guide

  • Refer to the UBC Editorial Guide for style and spelling guidelines, including UBC-specific conventions.

Inverted Pyramid

  • Write the most important information at the top of each page.

 

Scannability

  • Use formatting and structural elements to make it easy for a reader to scan the page.
    • Headings
    • Subheadings
    • Separated short paragraphs
    • Tables
    • Lists
    • Bold keywords
    • Effective links

Website Structure & Types of Pages

  • Use links to guide visitors quickly and efficiently from the landing page to the desired destination. Start with general information and provide specific information as you navigate further into the site.
  • When creating links to other pages or sites, be sensitive to the length of the linked URL: For short URLs (e.g. www.med.ubc.ca) type the site address in full. For long URLs (e.g. www.med.ubc.ca/lorem/ipsum/lorem/ipsum/…), create a hyperlinked name for the URL (e.g. Medicine).

Discrete Pages

  • Do not assume the site pages will be accessed in a particular order. Make each page clear enough to stand alone.

File Naming

  • Consider appropriate file naming conventions for when a user downloads a document/file from your site. For example, “Letter from the Dean re: honorarium policy_ final_May1, 2009” as opposed to “letter.”

Contact & Training

If you have questions about writing for the web, email Communications.

Writing for the Web and WordPress training is provided by the Faculty of Medicine Communications Team. To find the next scheduled session and to register, visit the WordPress CMS website.