Category: 08. Writing for the Web

How to Keep Web Texts Short (Part 2): The Sentence Level

Generally, what accounts for the content or surface level of a text has to be reflected in the sentences, too. Thus, in order not to overtax the users and to meet succinctness, many authors (see Book recommendation / advertisement: Buy this book at amazon.com/.co.uk/.de! Kilian 1999, Book recommendation / advertisement: Buy this book at amazon.com/.co.uk/.de! Lackerbauer 2003) have recommended using simple sentence structures: “Convoluted writing and complex words are even harder to understand online.” (Nielsen 1998)

2007-11-28 11:05 |

How to Keep Web Texts Short (Part 1): The Content Level

Different studies on Web usability have found out that Web users don’t want to read long texts because reading from screens is somewhat slower than reading from paper and maybe even painful to the eye, and because reading hypertext entails additional cognitive efforts. Consequently, I have defined succinctness to be a key to effective communication through Web texts, which appears to be in line with the literature on Web usability and Web linguistics. Likewise, the design of Web sites may sometimes limit the space that is primed for a particular text occurrence. For that reason, an author will have to keep texts short as well. In the following, I shall introduce a few approaches from literature in order to manage keeping Web texts short. The ideas given in the first posting to this problem will mainly concern the content level; solutions of how to keep sentences short will be presented in a second posting.

2007-11-23 13:22 |

Remarks on the Style of Commercial Web Texts

De Beaugrande (1984) has argued that a purely (text) linguistic analysis of language artefacts cannot account for the rich communicative contexts that define style. In fact, there is no norm or grammar that characterises a given passage of text to be stylistically relevant. In other words, the manipulations that one could perform on a surface text’s linguistic or grammatical structure may barely affect the style of the text at all. Changes on a text may rather influence the style via the context and less via the linguistic structure. Consequently, a linguistic discussion on the style of writing should somewhat be hold in terms of text being an element of discourse than text being a structural unit of language. Other contributions to that discussion may then come from the fields of pragmatics and semantics.

2007-11-10 20:43 |

Remarks on Text Typology (Part 3): An Advertisement Does Not Necessarily Have to Look Like an Advertisement

An interesting suggestion that one should have in mind, however, has been made by Book recommendation / advertisement: Buy this book at amazon.com/.co.uk/.de! Halliday & Hasan (1989). The authors explain within their chapter on the identity of a text that a text’s generic form (e.g. the one of a letter) may be dissociated from its generic function (e.g. an advertisement).

2007-11-05 07:45 | ,

Remarks on Text Typology (Part 2): A Text Typology on 'Webvertising'?

Usually, texts can be classified according to the writer’s intention. The outcome of such a classification refers to the genre of a text, i.e. a text may be explaining, instructing, recounting, describing, arguing, or narrating. Moreover, genres are to be distinguished from text types, which may be letters, plays, sonnets, formal debates, and so on. It appears to be the case that print texts, which of course have a much longer tradition in linguistics, are better represented by such classifications. Thus, I will not attempt to classify Web texts in terms of conventional text typology.

2007-11-04 00:46 |

Remarks on Text Typology (Part 1): It’s All about Being Effective in Advertising

We have learned that writing Web texts must be based on the needs of the medium and the readers that are addressed. This is what modern text linguistics demands, as well as what usability research insists. From the previous posting we know how Web texts generally should look like in order to meet these requirements; the keys to effective communication through Web texts have been defined as succinctness, ‘scannability’, and coherence of hypertext nodes. Before I will explain how to meet these criteria when writing Web texts, I will make short statements on both text typology and style on behalf of a complete linguistic discussion of text production issues, starting with a short series of three postings about text typology.

2007-11-03 12:02 | ,

What Else Do we Know About the Human Factors on the Web?

Throughout my linguistic considerations on Web texts so far, I already pointed out that users of Web sites can have very different contexts when accessing the information that is given. As a consequence, we must expect that visitors may have many different levels of reader interest in our Web texts. “Every person has a certain level of interest in every piece of information. A writer should help each reader to get their desired level of information as quickly as possible.” (Wallace 1999)

2007-10-18 16:30 | ,

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