Originally published June 15, 2010
A few years ago, Wendy Sawatzky – associate editor of digital news for the Winnipeg Free Press – visited my Editing for Print and Online Media class at Red River College. She discussed her job, what it entails and what it is like working for the Free Press.
Sawatzky also provided a list of tips and guidelines that a writer should follow when publishing anything online. I hadn’t really thought too seriously about my blog posts – and how I format them – but after talking to Sawatzky I realized format is everything.
Online editions of newspapers are competing against everything else (social media, television, phone calls, email, etc…), so the content must be designed in a way that is easy to read, interesting and eye-pleasing.
Below, I have included a list of tips for online writers and bloggers.
When writing something to be published online…
- Keep paragraphs short (100-ish words or less)
- One idea per paragraph
- Break up copy with subheads
- Bulleted lists are great
- Use active verbs
When writing an online headline…
- Keep it short
- Keep it factual
- Include specifics (such as geographical information and names)
- Use key words (so headlines are searchable
When including links…
- Make sure they work
- Make sure the site you’re linking to is reputable
- Clearly explain what the reader will find at the link (meaning, don’t simply write “click here”)
- Only link to sources outside your own website when necessary
When including images…
- People look at images of things they want to buy and/or consume
- Most people ignore online advertisements
- Ordinary stock images that look staged are ignored
- Moving graphics and photo galleries are beneficial, but only if the reader is in control of how and when they move (none of that automatically-changing stuff)
When adding a video…
- Keep it short
- Keep it relevant
- Clearly explain what the video is about
Hopefully these tips are helpful! They sure changed the way I format my posts.