Writing Style

Document created by Elisabeth Voress on Jan 26, 2019
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Here are some tips for writing engaging website copy. Note that some of the “rules” presented here conflict with standard writing and grammar rules.

 

Active Voice
Using action words creates a more lively tone. When possible, avoid the passive voice.

 

Prepositions
It’s acceptable to end sentences in prepositions. If you can change your wording to avoid it, that’s preferable. But it’s better to end a sentence in a preposition than to sound too formal.

 

Contractions
Use contractions. It creates a less formal tone.

 

Sentence Fragments
Using sentence fragments in online writing is acceptable, often even preferable. It allows you to filter out unnecessary words and bring keywords to the beginning of the fragment.

Examples:

  • Short Courses – Continuing education for scientists
  • Speaking for Science (video) – Tips and info for meeting with policymakers

 

No Polite Text
Users WANT to be told what to do. It saves them time. They have to filter out words like “please” and “be sure to” before they can process what they’re meant to be doing.

 

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