Readability

A series of articles on writing content that is easier to read. Covers common problems and solutions, as well as useful tools.

Most recent articles

Writing content for responsive design

If you’re writing for the web, you’re writing for responsive design. Or you soon will be. In this article, we offer some tips to get your content working well on a range of screen sizes and orientations.

3 useful tools for web writers

One of the great things about the Internet is the range of tools and information now available—often for free. Here are 3 free tools I recommend. They’re simple to use. And they’ll help you write better content for your organisation’s website, intranet or blog.

3 diseases that infect web content

Want clean, healthy web content? Then you’ll need to protect it from 3 common diseases. They’re highly contagious too: if some of your content suffers, it tends to infect the rest. Style guides offer little defence—many web writers copy their colleagues, unwittingly passing on the infection.

Better science writing for the web

Scientists sometimes write content for their organisation’s websites. Some resist advice to write in plain language. Others find it hard to avoid ‘scientese’. This article presents tips from science journal style guides to help persuade and encourage scientists to write more readable science for the web.

A-Z of better web writing

If you want to write better web content, here’s an A-Z that should help. It covers attributes of quality content and other issues web writers should be aware of.

7 Cs of quality web content

If you want to write better content for your website, intranet or blog, aim for these 7 qualities. They’re based on the classic ‘7 Cs of communication’, reworked for communicating online.

Reading level – accessibility for web writers

The accessibility guidelines suggest we write content that requires only a lower secondary level education to read. Where that’s not possible, we should provide supplementary content (visuals, for example), or an easy-to-read summary.

Language and the role of the web writer

Some web writers object to using plain language, saying their role is to educate and expand users’ vocabulary. That’s a poor argument unless you’re developing learning materials, or working an encyclopedia website. Web content needs to communicate clearly, using a style and form appropriate for the web.

Don’t use ‘Humpty Dumpty’ words

When organisations’ jargon uses common words in a special way, their customers are likely to misunderstand them. This is an example from a local government website where the word ‘pergola’ is used in a restricted sense, as defined by state legislation.

The 5 Es of content usability

I’ve long been a fan of Whitney Quesenbery’s 5 Es of usability. They’re a great way to explain usability to clients, designers and developers. I think the 5 Es can also help us explain content usability.

Two words that need to go under

Should I blame journalists for the overuse of these two awful words: ‘undertake’ and ‘undergo’? They’re in news headlines and TV news stories every day. But they’re also lurking on the web. Here’s how to avoid using them in your online content.