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The Basics of Writing for the Web

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This chapter from Nicely Said: Writing for the Web with Style and Purpose covers basic guidelines for writing for the web, common mistakes, tips for getting unstuck, and exercises for improving your writing.
This chapter is from the book

You’ve done your research. You have a plan. You can’t escape it any longer. It’s time to sit down and write (eek!). Yes, this is the hard part. Hang in there, though. We’re in this together. In this chapter, we’ll cover:

  • Basic guidelines
  • Common mistakes
  • Tips for getting unstuck
  • Exercises for improving your writing

Let’s start with a few guidelines for good writing to help you produce it.

Basic guidelines

Good writing is clear, useful, and friendly. Some sentences may be a little plain or just the facts, ma’am, but that’s okay. A straightforward tone rarely hurts the reading experience, as long as the information is accurate.

The hardest part, of course, is making sense to someone outside your own head. To write clearly, you need to understand your subject, organize your thoughts, and present each point in a logical way. That takes a combination of research, patience, and clearheaded thinking. Style is another important layer that we’ll touch on here and explore in upcoming chapters. Your style is there to help you convey your message, which means it’s secondary to the message itself.

So let’s get to good first and bring in style later. Good means solid, not glamorous, cute, or catchy. Practice these guidelines regularly:

  • Be clear.
  • Be concise.
  • Be honest.
  • Be considerate.
  • Write how you speak.

Let’s work through each of them individually. Rules and guidelines can be a little dry, but we’ll try to make this enjoyable.

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