September 23, 2011 in Web Usability

Web Writing Rules

Users scan, they don’t read.

When writing for the web there’s a handful of rules:


  • Plain english
  • Chunkated content
  • Meaningful headings (not clever ones)
  • Highlight keywords (bold)
  • Use bulletted lists
  • F shaped scanning pattern
  • If theres a more common term, use it
  • Use a active voice ( active voice (“Actor does X to Object”) is usually better than passive voice (“Object has X done to it by Actor”) .
  • Show numbers as numerals
  • Positive statements
  • Less is more
  • Keep introductory text short (content context only)
  • Be succinct
  • Users scan, they don’t read


  • One idea per paragraph
  • Inverted pyramid style (start with conclusion)
  • Half the word count (than traditional writing)


  • Scanning the headings should explain what the page is about