How to write for the web – checklist
On the web, we read differently from how we do it on paper. Some features are:
- many read at a slower pace
- approximately half of the readers only skim through the texts
- many read only the headings
- few read all the text on the page
- links cause the reader to jump from one batch of information to the next
When writing for the web, you should therefore follow this checklist:
1. Why are you writing this text?
Readers are task-oriented. How will they use this web page? What task do they want to complete? Can they find the answer in your text? Always ask yourself: What do I want to achieve with this text?
2. Consider your readers
Will the readers need this text at uio.no or should you reach them in another way? Is the text and its wording adapted to the target group(s)?
3. Place the main message first
Is the conclusion at the top of the page? Nearly all texts should have an introduction consisting of one or two sentences that sum up the content on the page.
4. Clear and sufficient
Should the text be shortened? Is the main message clear?
5. Easy to skim through
- A good text structure is essential to readability – such as headings, introduction, paragraphs and lists.
- Have you made good use of full stops?
- Does each sentence contain only one message?
- Is there one topic in each paragraph? Start with the keywords.
- Is the text divided into short paragraphs, each with 2–4 sentences?
- Have you used meaningful sub-headings?
- Have you used words that the reader will look for?
- Have you used bullet points?
- When you want to highlight text, use bold type, never italics or upper-case letters only.
- Are all headings meaningful and do they contain keywords?
- Titles must be meaningful independently of the body text.
- Use heading levels to provide structure and readability.
- Always highlight titles using the headline tags <H2>, <H3> or <H4>. Do not use bold type.
- Does the link text clearly describe the destination of the link?
- Try to include more than one word in your links.
- Use active language. Write ‘Complete the form...’, not ‘Form for...’.
- Specify if a link takes the user to an external website. Example: Compensation supplements (lovdata.no) (Norwegian).
- If you link to document types other than HTML, you need to identify the document type as part of your link. Example: Form for self-certification of absence (word).
- Remember that you are responsible for ensuring that links work. How to find broken links.
8. Facilitate searches
- Use words that you know and that you assume the user will search for.
9. Images and illustrations
- If you want to illustrate your text: use images and illustrations that are relevant to the content and provide extra information for the reader.
10. Language usage
Using correct and plain language is essential. Have you done the language check (Norwegian) and proofread your text?
11. File names, folder names and URLs
Make the names descriptive. Use only lower-case letters. Do not use æ, ø or å, spaces or special characters.
If you need to divide file names or folder names, use the underscore sign. See the guidelines for naming.
12. Update the pages
Updating is essential. Remember to check your document regularly for broken links. And ask yourself: is the content still relevant, or should it be deleted or archived?