Writing for the Web

Review the Editorial Style Guide for the foundation for how Miami communicates to both internal and external audiences in order to maintain editorial consistency aligned with Miami's values. 

Writing for the web is about making your writing easier to read and use and thinking about your content from the user's point of view.

Organizing Content

  • Put most important information first. Answer who, what, when, where, how, and why in your first sentence or two, and use the paragraphs that follow to include colorful details and less important information. Readers will scan and scroll, especially if they can tell there's content that interests them lower on the page. It's still a good idea to ensure that the first thing they see is the content you most want them to see!
  • Use subsections to chunk information. Breaking down information into "bite-sized" pieces helps the reader more easily digest new information.
  • Position critical content above the fold. The "fold" is that imaginary line where the bottom of your screen cuts off a page. Content can fall below the fold, but anything critical should fit on that first screen.
  • Use one idea per paragraph and keep it short. As in newspapers, one-sentence paragraphs are perfectly legitimate on the Web.
  • Consider anchors or accordions for long pages. When you have a lot of information that belongs together on a single page (for example, descriptions of various student organizations), you can create scannable elements that lead to more information, if desired.
  • Structure similar content areas in a similar fashion, whenever possible. A consistent approach will reinforce the readers' sense of context within your site. For example, all course listings should contain the same information presented in the same way.
  • Make your pages actionable. You should give your users options to learn more or take a next step. If your entire page contains no hyperlinks or calls to action, you may be missing multiple opportunities to engage your audience.
  • Be succinct and use short sentences, whenever possible. If a shorter, simpler way to say something exists, say it that way. Don't say "Communicate with our team" when "Contact us" will do just fine. Five to 10 words per sentence is ideal.
  • Make your text scannable:
    • Use page headings and subheadings. Write headings so readers know exactly what the page is about without reading it word for word. As readers scan down a page, they read the beginnings of headings more than the ends.
    • Highlight key phrases and words to draw visitors’ attention.
    • Use bulleted lists to pull out key ideas.
  • Use formatting for emphasis sparingly. Try to draw attention to everything and you'll effectively draw attention to nothing.
  • Do not use the underline format. When it comes to online communications, underlining is associated with hyperlinks.