<%response.buffer=true%> <% yere = year(date()) Response.Expires = 0 %> Intro: Writing For The Web
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Paragraphs

" The time to begin writing an article is when you have finished it to your satisfaction.  By Nilsson's The Point Feature From The 70'sthat time you begin to clearly and logically perceive what it is you really want to say. " Mark Twain

Paragraphs For The Web: Converting your text to scannable web paragraphs is no small trick! However the trick is to make them smaller! Keep the following ideas in mind when converting your articles for the web!

Pyramid Format: When writing for the web, remember to use the pyramid format, in which the conclusion of the article is stated at the beginning of the article. Let visitors know what is in the article for them, right away. If they want the details they'll read on! Pyramid Format

One Paragraph, One Point: Consider each paragraph as a separate unit. It should have one point. If you can't determine the point, the paragraph may be unnecessary!

Stay On Point: If you cannot figure out what the real point is, no one will. The point should appear in a distinct sentence within the paragraph, and perhaps be in bold.

Short Paragraphs: Break up complicated paragraphs into short ones. If points are important, put them in their own paragraphs. If not, consider removing them.

Paragraphs & Stars both form clusters (Pleiades)Move From Familiar To New: Paragraphs can proceed from familiar ideas to new ideas. This establishes credibility and trust. Start with the known, and end a sentence with the new idea. Then start the next sentence with that new idea, creating a chain.

Support Sentences: Each sentence in a paragraph should relate to the point. Use one word to refer to something, not alternate versions (keep frogs as frogs, not amphibians,animals, creatures) Good supporting sentences form around a point like a Cluster.

Break Up Text: Use structural devices to break up the page, and keep the readers attention. Break up long blocks of text with:

  • bullets
  • graphs
  • charts
  • images

Images can appear before they are referenced in the text, for mystery. Use the ALT tag to give a hint on the significance of the image. Consider Z pattern (law of 3) to set images, alternating left and right down the page. Z Pattern vs F Pattern

Arggh, buried treasure!Scannable Titles, Main Points: Allow your reader to skim your paragraphs. Make the title indicate the nature of the point to be made. Consider placing the most important sentence in a paragraph in bold face. Can you read the entire article by reading only the bold items? Don't overbold!

Start With The Point, Elaborate: If you need to establish a context for the reader to understand, do that right away. That will make it easier for the user to follow.

When To Link, vs When to Cite: If you are going to quote from a source, you must cite the source. For example, at the Hot Text site we find a description for a 'chunky' paragraph:

'Eat your chunky soup.  How many times have we heard that? But a chunky paragraph?'

'The idea is that the paragraph should be a solid unit, coherent, unified, one thing. Not a bunch of ideas strewn about.'

'At the core, a genuine idea.  Not just a topic you are rambling on about.  A subject and a verb: a sentence that says something meaningful.  That's what you build chunky paragraphs around.' 1

Use a link to elaborate on a subject. Remember to structure your paragraph and sentence so it ends with the link.

Reward The Patient Reader: Consider placing a hook (tantalizing point) at the end of paragraph. Reward the reader for finishing, to gain trust. Link the last word in the sentence, if a link is required. Make your article a treasure hunt!

Sharpen The Points: Remember that we are 'polishing' our work. It is best to:

  • Read your article many times, with a critical eye Sharpen the Sword!
  • Read the article with the 'scan points' to see if they tell a story
  • Come back at intervals to try again to polish the article
  • Have others give you a second (and third) opinion

There is more advice at the Hot Text site about paragraph structure: Writing Chunky Paragraphs

It is deceiving how difficult it is to edit your web article. Take the time to make it shine!

1) Price, Jonathan and Lisa (2002). 'Hot Text: Web Writing That Works'.
     <http://www.webwritingthatworks.com/CGuide3Links.htm> (21 May 2006).

   
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