Writing in a readable style

A web writer's role is not just to write, but to communicate. To do this successfully online, content must be clear, direct and concise.

10 tips for web writers

  1. Write in an approachable style Avoid writing in a tone that is too formal. Don't use bureaucratese, legalese, marketese, academic style or gobbledygook.
  2. Use everyday words Use words familiar to users of the content. Be careful using jargon or specialist language. Avoid idioms.
  3. Be careful using abbreviations Try to limit abbreviations, acronyms or initialisms to those familiar to users of the content.
  4. Write short sentences Aim for an average sentence length of 15-20 words. Avoid sentences longer than 30-35 words.
  5. Prefer the active voice Only use the passive voice when appropriate (for example, when the actor is irrelevant or unknown, or to emphasise the object of the action).
  6. Don't turn verbs into nouns Check verb phrases. Look for nouns ending in –ion, -ment, -ing, -ant, -ance, -ness and –dom. Where appropriate, rewrite to use them as verbs.
  7. Use verbs in the present tense Where possible, rewrite future-tense verbs to use the present tense.
  8. Use personal pronouns Refer to the owner of the content with 'we' and 'our' and to users with 'you' and 'your'.
  9. Write concisely Watch out for paired words, wordy phrases and other unnecessary words.
  10. Review and edit Never publish a first draft. Let some time pass before editing. Review from a printed version. Read the draft aloud. Where possible, get another writer to do a further review.