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Writing for the Web

  • The Worldwide Web
    • Allows us to
      • Get information
      • Communicate
      • Shop
      • Get books
      • Trade
      • Bank
      • Listen to and obtain music
      • Watch television programming
    • Web is overseen by the W3 Consortium, http://www.w3.org

  • The Web and Information
    • A little like broadcasting
    • A little like newspapers and magazines
    • But different
      • Immediacy
      • Flexibility
      • Permanency
      • Capacity
      • Interactivity

    • Hypertext: Text which is not constrained to be linear
    • Hypermedia: Information which is not constrained linear … or to be text

    • Immediacy
      • Faster to publish information and pictures
      • Less personnel and equipment
      • Solves distribution problems of print 

    • Flexibility
      • Wide variety of formats: multimedia
        • Text, pictures, video, audio
      • Fostering new ways of presenting information

    • Permanency
      • Content can be stored relatively permanently and
      • Made available on demand
      • Duplicability

    • Capability
      • Solves print media’s space limitations
      • Solves broadcasting’s time limitations
      • Stores infinite amount of information worldwide

    • Interactivity
      • Most phenomenal aspect of the WWW
      • Links to more information
      • Producers can track choices
      • Provides direct feedback

    • With all its features and differences, the Web needs skilled writers


  • Audience Demands
    • Usability: Should test for usability
      • Speed
        • Fast loading; links with instant response
      • Visual logic
      • Simple organization and navigation
        • Information layered
      • Depth
        • Enough information; continually updated
      • News
        • New and updated information

    Writing for the Web
    • Creating content
      • Writing for an audience
      • Credibility
      • Language mastery
      • Inverted pyramid
        • Satisfies Web’s demand for speed & efficiency
        • Must balance organization’s needs with readers'
      • Conciseness
        • Readers even more fickle on the Web
        • Websites need to be sticky, hyper-efficient

    • Links
      • Web’s most important original attribute
      • Words or images that lead reader to more information on the page, the website or WWW
      • Default is underlined and blue; often in lists
      • Inline links are links contained within the text.
      • Transparent links don’t call attention to themselves.
        • Not transparent: Click here to see my favorite pet Peg.
        • Transparent: My favorite pet is Peg.

      • Enable readers to navigate a package of information
        • To select what information they believe is important and interesting

      • Web writers must understand HTML (hypertext markup language) to put links in their copy
    • Lists
      • Bulleted (non-ordered)
      • Numbered (ordered)

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  • Visual presentation
    • Writer must attend to visual aspects of article
      • Illustration
      • Links
      • White space
        • Paragraph spacing, indentations
        • Bulleted lists
      • Short paragraphs
        • Transitions
        • Bold facing for emphasis


Ordered list
    • Microcontent
      • Words, phrases and sentences that lead visitors into a website.
        • Labels
        • Headlines
        • Summaries
        • Subheads
        • Cutlines
        • Introductions

      • Labels
        • One- or two-word monikers that indicate overall organization of the website
          • Navigation bar, list of links on index, or home, page

      • Headlines
        • Important for news websites, often links to story
        • Two types: label and sentence headlines

          • Label headlines: 2 to 4 words, an indication of topic

          • Sentence headlines: like newspaper headlines
            • Subject & verb, but non-essential words dropped
              • Most articles (a, an, the) dropped
              • Comma for conjunction
            • Present tense
            • Brief but specific
            • Should not mimic lead
            • No ending period

      • IC XC: Write a sentence headline

      • Summaries
        • Concise, well-written, condensed form of story
        • Commonly on front page or section pages
        • Should not just repeat lead
          • Shorter version of main story
          • Called briefs in print newspapers

        • Three types
          • Informational
            • overview of longer story
          • Analytical
            • interpretation (how, why) of story
          • Provocative
            • express opinion to pique interest

      • Other microcontent
        • Subheads
          • Break up long articles
          • Alert to coming content
        • Cutlines
          • One to two full sentences that describe a picture beyond the obvious, identify people
          • Most often in present tense
        • Introductions
          • One or two paragraphs describing other elements on page
    • Web logs (blogs)
      • Journal posted on the web
        • Not personal, very public
        • Opinions, comments, links to relevant sites, pictures, videos, audio
        • Audience is highly interested
        • Interactive, readers’ comments posted

    • International & multicultural sites
      • Translate your site for countries you do business in
      • Use common words (no slang or jargon)
      • Avoid chlichés, colloquialisms and idioms
        • Piece of cake, kickoff event, knock it out of the park
      • Avoid cultural icons
        • Symbols, especially religious symbols
      • Minimize humor
        • Lost in translation

    • Social Media
      • You’re probably a participant
        • Staying in touch with friends and family
      • Soon may be a professional using social media
        • Building an audience
        • A means of keeping up with professional interests
          • Gather friends with shared professional interests
          • Post links of interest to colleagues
          • Post links to your productions or about your interests
          • Create pages for your issues & interests
          • Respond to posts of others who share your interests
          • Collaborate on projects (Wikis, Skype, Facebook, etc.)
      • Facebook as a start
      • Professional networking sites
    • Writing for Social Media
      • All the techniques already covered
        • Concise, information-rich words, sentences and paragraphs

    • Twitter
      • Combines micro-blogging and social networking
      • An entry can be no longer than 140 characters, including hashtags and URL if you point to Web
      • Major means of communicating among media professionals, https://twitter.com/
      • Preferred in crises, emergencies among media professionals

      • #hashtags
        • Used to mark key words or topics
        • Clicking a hashtagged word in a tweet shows all other tweets marked with that word
        • Can appear anywhere: beginning, middle, end
        • Not case sensitive
        • Used to search for tweets with common topic

      • Writing a Tweet
        • Inform your followers
        • Part of ongoing conversation
          • React to what has been said
          • Introduce original information

      • Tweeting Guidelines
        • What’s the point? (have a goal in mind)
        • Information is better than opinion
        • One or two points, max
        • Complete thoughts: subject, verb (if not sentences)
        • Emphasize verbs: active, descriptive
        • Drop articles, as in headline writing
          • Unless needed for clarity
        • Punctuate for clarity
        • No more than two hashtags per tweet
        • Use abbreviations only if widely understood
        • Well-formed questions will attract responses
        • Respect the language, your audience and yourself
        • Strive for honesty, courtesy, modesty and civility
        • Maintain a sense of professionalism

    • Assignment 5: due March 17
      • Link, headline, article & tweet
        • Write a short summary for your feature
          • Answer 5 W’s and H
          • Underline a phrase in the article/announcement that can serve as an inline, transparent link.
            • At the bottom of the page, write the link’s URL.
          • Write a sentence headline for your summary.
            • Follow the guidelines given in lecture.
          • Write a tweet summarizing the article’s topic
            • Use at least one hashtag, no more than two
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