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Tips on Writing for the Web Environment

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Writing for the web demands pithy sentences, skillful hyperlinks, point-first writing, clear division into sections, use of headings, lists and tables, images, and awareness of how punctuation looks on a screen.

Pithy Sentences

Keep your writing taut and to the point. Some variation in syntax keeps your prose lively, but subject-verb-object syntax should predominate. Avoid baroque sentences with inverted syntax and subordinate clauses.

Point-First Writing

Point-first writing is particularly important in the web environment. Make sure each paragraph begins with a point sentence (sometimes called a topic sentence or mini-claim). Readers often skim in the web environment. Make sure the first sentence in each paragraph summarizes the contents of the paragraph.

Section Divisions and Headings

Web readers are accustomed to viewing shorter sections of text than are typically found in printed texts. Such an arrangement makes it easier for readers to scan the page quickly for the information that is of interest to them.
Divide your article into a number of discrete sections and use a short, descriptive heading for each section. Note that MoEML recommends particular headings for Encyclopedia pages. These headings will generate the Contents List that appears on the left-hand side of a MoEML page. We can encode up to five levels of sub-headings.
Paragraph lengths are typically shorter in the web environment than in print.

Lists and Tables

Bulleted or numbered lists work well in the web environment. We can encode either type of list very easily, as well as lists within lists.
Tables with 3-4 columns also work well in the MoEML environment. If you want your table to have sortable columns, tell us how you want them to sort (alphabetically or numerically).

Images

We highly recommend the use of images in your contribution. Images illustrate your point(s) and also break up long blocks of text. See our Contributor Guidelines on the use of images.

Punctuation

Avoid using semi-colons (unless they appear in a quotation), because they look like commas on many screens.

Basic Resources

Those very unfamiliar with the web environment might find the Internet Shakespeare EditionsGuidelines on Hypertext useful.
Last modification: 2016-05-27 14:37:29 -0700 (Fri, 27 May 2016) (tlandels)
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MLA citation:

Jenstad, Janelle, Kim McLean-Fiander, and Katie Tanigawa. “Tips on Writing for the Web.” The Map of Early Modern London. Ed. Janelle Jenstad. Victoria: University of Victoria. Web. 30 March 2017. <http://mapoflondon.uvic.ca/web_writing_tips.htm>.

Chicago citation:

Jenstad, Janelle, Kim McLean-Fiander, and Katie Tanigawa. n.d. “Tips on Writing for the Web.” The Map of Early Modern London. Ed. Janelle Jenstad. Victoria: University of Victoria. Accessed March 30, 2017. http://mapoflondon.uvic.ca/web_writing_tips.htm.

APA citation:

Jenstad J., K. McLean-Fiander, & K. Tanigawa. (n.d.). Tips on Writing for the Web. In J. Jenstad (Ed.), The Map of Early Modern London. Retrieved March 30, 2017, from http://mapoflondon.uvic.ca/web_writing_tips.htm

TEI citation:

<bibl> <author><persName><surname>Jenstad</surname>, <forename>Janelle</forename></persName></author>, <author><persName><forename>Kim</forename> <surname>McLean-Fiander</surname></persName></author>, & <author><persName><forename>Katie</forename> <surname>Tanigawa</surname></persName></author>. (<date>n.d.</date>). <title level="a">Tips on Writing for the Web</title>. In <editor><persName><forename>J.</forename> <surname>Jenstad</surname></persName></editor> (Ed.), <title level="m">The Map of Early Modern London</title>. Retrieved <date when="2017-03-30">March 30, 2017</date>, from <ref target="http://mapoflondon.uvic.ca/web_writing_tips.htm">http://mapoflondon.uvic.ca/web_writing_tips.htm</ref> </bibl>