Writing for online media


People read online media differently than traditional printed media. On the internet, readers tend to scan until they have found what they are looking for and do so by hunting for keywords. Long blocks of text can be overwhelming and irritating for users who may be searching for specific information. Therefore, it is important to make content concise and easy to scan.


Techniques for making text scannable include:
•    Omit nonessential words and lower the word count by about half when compared to print documents
•    Convey one idea per paragraph
•    Use simple and clear language
•    Facilitate scanning with headers and sub-headers, bullet points, lists and captions
•    Make sub-headings meaningful (as opposed to “clever”)
•    Provide links to related and additional detail


When creating hyperlinks in web and digital content, highlight the words that most accurately describe the destination of the link. Avoid the use of “click here.”


Content creators should keep their audience in mind when writing. Using familiar, everyday words is helpful. Consider these questions:
•    Who is your audience?
•    What is your audience looking for?  Why are they reading this?
•    What do they know about the subject matter? Are there varied levels of understanding?
•    Will your user understand the jargon, acronyms and abbreviations used?


Internet users take advantage of search engine sites and search boxes to help them find the content they are looking for. Content creators should understand the importance of search usability and search engine optimization (SEO).

Learn more about SEO at:
•    Google’s Webmaster Tools for Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
•    Google’s Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide (PDF)


Organizing content according to users’ needs is helpful to visitors on a web site. Headings and sub-heading should accurately describe or summarize the text for that section.

Avoid categorizing content by departmental hierarchy or by an organizational chart. Most users are not familiar with university structure and web sites organized by unit hierarchy will only frustrate your users and decrease usability.

Images, graphs, charts and tables
Many times images, graphs, charts or tables can be used to convey complex information quickly and easily or they may be used in conjunction with text.
When images, graphs or charts are used, UNCG accessibility standards must be followed.

Images used to convey content (as opposed to layout imagery) should always employ the ALT tag with a text description of the image. Likewise, graphs and charts should be labeled with a description of the content conveyed in the graphic. Imagine that a user cannot see the image, or perhaps cannot download the image due to technical limitations. Descriptions for charts and graphs should summarize the information conveyed.

Tables can be used to display tabular data but should be avoided for web layout in most web and eCommunications, except in the case of web-based enewsletters. Email browsers have not caught up to the standards that web browsers subscribe to.


Content creators are encouraged to use the UNCG editorial style guide for standards for abbreviations, acronyms, special exceptions, etc.

Standards for the correct use of the university name are also found in the writing section of this site.