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Writing Better Website Copy for Easy Reading
Like many readers, we often feel annoyed when we stumble into an article full of jargon because we can't understand what the writer is trying to say.
Would you buy a product and not understand what it is all about? Of course not!
It's widely known the public is unfamiliar with sophisticated English (especially jargon and "tech talk"). As a writer, if you're revving to keep your readers interested and well-informed, you need to write in plain English. Here are points to keep your readers tuned into what you write.
Before we start on how to write in plain English, let's start with the basic question: What is plain English?
What's the difference with web copy and print copy?
There are many difference between writing web content and writing for print publications. Although both deliver the same message, writing for print publications might involve longer technical jargon that targets certain individuals.
Research is also another difference between print copy and web copy. With copy print, you can use any phrases as it appears. However, online copy requires you to place certain keywords into search engines to make it more visible online.
The Internet is the most powerful tool. Using online content can drive many people to check your site. With easy-to-read contents, you will attract consumers in a much-wider market compared with print copy.
Here is an example of poorly written and well-written web copy:
"Our company endows intellectual capital to meet optimum clientele needs. Our continual challenge is to impart professional and progressive paradigms deemed required for unique individual necessities. Our goal is to disseminate error-free copy as deemed expected from our highly skilled team of professionals..."
Well-written web copy:
"Our company provides academic services that meet our clients' needs. We challenge ourselves to provide professional deliverables. Our professional team of writers provide error-free copy..."
Tips on how to write web content using plain English
When you're ready to make your own web content, here's how to keep everything simple, catchy and attractive to your readers:
1. Know your reader. Always write according to your audience's viewpoint and their English comprehension level which is between a 4th and 7th grade reading level.
2. Organize your text using these elements: logical sequence, informative headings and use of table of contents (or sitemaps) for longer contents.
3. Use short sentences and avoid long ones. This keeps the appeal of your content and avoids information overload or 'fluff' content.
4. Keep things simple and clear.
5. Use proper grammar. If you're not keen in this area, you might want to consult a professional proofreader. Using proper grammar keeps those nasty comments at bay.
6. Use subject-predicate position in most of your content to avoid grammar confusion. A sentence contains two parts: a subject and a predicate. The subject is what (or whom) the sentence is about, while the predicate tells something about the subject.
7. Avoid compound prepositions. Compound prepositions are more than one word. The words "in between" and "because of" are prepositions made up of two words; "in front of," "on behalf" of are prepositions made up of three words.
8. Keep your message simple by using its plain English counterpart. For example, instead of using the word "dissemination," you could use the simple counterpart, "spread."
9. Do not use all caps in writing your content because this stops the flow of your writing.
10. Use active words (strong verbs!) to keep your content interesting.
11. Keep everything factual. Avoid inserting personal opinions (unless needed). Be fair and keep an objective view.
Remember you're not writing for yourself, but you're writing for the general audience. Not everyone who stumbles across your content will be well-versed in English, so writing in plain language will make it appealing, especially for non-English speaking individuals. Lastly, writing in plain English will keep your readers well-informed and reduces misunderstandings and confusion.