Posted in Writing

Writing for the Web…it’s easy, right?

Here’s some of my awesome top tips for writing short and snappy copy for your local government website:

  • Start from a blank canvass. Don’t try to make what’s already there shorter.
  • Try writing the content in the length of a Tweet to get used to writing in a short and snappy style. Tweets are 140 characters or about 15-20 words.
  • Try writing your current web pages in just three bullet points – this will help establish the key points and the most relevant and important information.
  • Think about what it is you want to say and put that first.
  • Imagine you are in the pub – how would you tell a friend about the information?
  • Don’t make your sentences too long. If you can’t say it out loud in one breath, it’s too long.
  • Write like you speak – using everyday words. For example instead of saying previous say before or instead of saying response say answer. Think about how our residents would ask for things not how we refer to them. For example parking tickets instead of PCN, council housing instead of registered social landlords or bins instead of waste.
  • Think about your audience.
  • To get your content snappy and punchy use short words and short sentences – think one or two syllable words and a sentence with no more than 20 words.
  • Think about headings and sub headings – they break up the text and help guide the customer through the information. They are also useful for the customer to see relevant information at a glance.
  • Think about white space. Just because there is a page don’t try to fill it.
  • If what you want to say only takes one sentence that’s fine, only write one sentence.
  • Write active sentences not passive ones.
  • Replace nouns (objects) with verbs (doing words).
  • Read what you’ve written out loud.
  • Always proofread what you have written. Make sure the spelling, grammar and punctuation is accurate?
  • Only use basic grammar – commas and full stops.
  • Think about the tone when you are writing. Is it approachable and does it give off a ‘here to help’ impression, is it customer friendly?
  • Avoid jargon and abbreviations. Never assume the customer knows what they mean or stand for.
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