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Web Writing Guide

Prospective students and their parents, current students, present and future graduate students, alumni, faculty, staff, and friends of Eastern University are all looking online to obtain information. When they come to the Eastern University Web site, we want them to find what they are looking for as quickly as possible.

We have created this guide to aid you in creating content that will lead to better search results and a better experience for our Web site visitors.

Get ready to write for the Web site

Define these THREE elements

  • My intended audience is __________ (prospects, grad students, alumni...)
  • This group of Web site visitors is looking for __________ (key words)
  • With this audience, the tone of my content needs to be __________ (conversational, instructional, formal...)

Ignore your high school English rules and embrace these TWO instead

  •  Use short, simple, easy-to-understand words and phrases
  • Make bullet points, numbered lists, captions, headings, sentences, paragraphs, and pages as short and concise as possible

Create ONE outline

  • The focus of this Web page is _____________________________
  • My headings are ________________________________________
  • Subheadings (if needed) are _______________________________
  • A picture of ___________ will appeal to my audience and be worth 1000 words of text

Write specifically for the Web site

Make your text easy to scan

  • Be concise
  • Keep sentences short and simple—aim for less than two lines long
  • Limit paragraphs to the amount of text you can read aloud in one breath
  • Use bullet point or numbered lists for brevity and scannability
  • Break up long paragraphs and insert more white space on the page
  • Use bold text—sparingly—to highlight key words and major points
  • Make format choices that are easy on the eyes regardless of device used

Give your readers direction

  • Put the most important information in headings
  • Match headings to what people are actually searching for
  • Give additional guidance with clear subheadings
  • Add clarifying text immediately below the appropriate (sub)heading
  • Use a numbered list if steps must be taken in a specific order
  • List contact information in the footer
  • Include links to other information sparingly

Include a call to action

  • Tell your reader exactly what you want them to do next
  • Use action verbs: contact me, call this number, view the complete list…

Keep your readers and lose the confusing punctuation

  • Break a sentence with multiple semi-colons into shorter sentences
  • If you have 5 or more punctuation marks in one sentence, consider using a numbered or bullet point list

Be consistent and considerate in how you address your audience

  • Write as if you are talking to a new friend
  • Avoid writing in the third person—use “you” and “we” instead
  • Be very clear the first time a word appears on your page—a newcomer won’t understand acronyms and buzz words so spell out both Examples include CCGPS (Campolo College of Graduate and Professional Studies), NGO (non-government organization), and THC (Templeton Honors College).
  • Go for a more conversational style when writing about events, and be more formal when writing about campus rules or graduation requirements

Beware of the link labyrinth

  • Make your content as concise as possible to avoid “read more”
  • Use headings and subheadings to guide viewers down the page
  • Make sense in context without sending your audience elsewhere
  • If you must direct your readers to another page, be as specific as possible in the linking text—“view the athletic schedule” instead of “click here”

Remember more is not always better

  • Use bold text, not bold and italics and underlining
  • Say what you need to say in as few words as possible
  • Publish your educational thesis in a professional journal not on this site

Think like an editor and format your text like the professional you are

  • Capitalize the first letter of sentences, list items, and subheadings
  • Capitalize each word in headings
  • Add only one space—not two—at the end of a sentence
  • Place end punctuation marks within closing quotation marks
  • Only use an apostrophe in a contraction or to show ownership
  • View the complete formatting and style guide

Review what you have written for the Web site

  • Proofread and recheck spelling, grammar, and punctuation
  • Double check your facts
  • Include correct linking information for the Web team

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