Question: I created one child for print, and another for the web

Question: I created one child for print, and another for the web
Is there a difference? Can you tell the difference?


The child created for the web is a lot shorter and much more active.

Join the conversation


Writing for new media is different

Writing for new media and the web has unique payoffs and pitfalls. Using them will help us write copy that appears before more readers and holds their attention longer. Let's share our tips for writing copy that will spark interest, maintain reader involvement, and place highly in search results.

Let's also discuss non-copy elements - widgets, RSS feeds, polls, imbedded video, photos, and killer graphics - that we use to engage the reader. We need every trick: readers are just one click away from other compelling articles and videos...and they know it.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

How print writers can adapt to writing for digital media

Guest post by Greg Satell at Digital Tonto.
Writers are some of the most talented people I have had the pleasure of working with. However, most find it hard adapting to digital media. Many succeed and find that they enjoy new media; some never really get the hang of it, while others just accept the reality and plod through. Whatever a writer's particular inclination, here are some points that can help:

Change fonts: On paper, serif fonts like Times New Roman help the reader navigate through the text. However, in digital the audience is reading off a screen and the small details of serif fonts can be hard to read given limits of screen resolution. Therefore, use a sans-serif font (like Arial) even if it isn't what you're used to.

Cut up the text: On the internet, people scan more than they read. They avoid large blocks of text. Make paragraphs smaller and add frequent subheads to help the reader digest material at a quick pace. Print writers need to alter their style for new media.

Understand entry points: While most print writers understand entry points in print, (e.g., charts and sidebars), the concept takes on a whole new meaning in digital media. Printed matter is generally read from front to back, and the cover is always seen before the content. The internet is 3D: less than half of the audience ever sees the home page. People might get to your article through search engines, links from other sites, etc. The landing page could be anywhere, so every page is a potential entry point.

Understand the important relationships that your writing creates: While printed matter is a closed system, an internet document has relationships to other documents both locally and globally. An article can be much more important for what it leads the reader to than for what it actually says. There are a variety of ways you can take advantage of these new possibilities:

- Link to reference sources: On the internet, you can share your research as well as your ideas with your reader. Readers will appreciate your thoughts even more if you give them some insight into how you arrived at them.

- Create content clusters: Build a series of related content and reference resources and link them to your article. This lets you weave different aspects and thoughts on a subject into a single body of work. As an ancillary benefit, this also helps search engines find what you write.

- Write shorter articles: A very short article can be engaging and useful if it leads interested readers to other valuable content. A five-page feature wouldn't do well on the internet (people usually print them).

Get comfortable with interactivity: A few years ago, my wife and I found a sick two-week-old puppy in Tbilisi, Georgia. We fell in love with him, brought him home, and now treat him as part of the family. We even talk to him! It's great having him around, but I'm not sure how I would feel if one day he talked back.

On the internet, the dogs talk back (and some of them bite!). Print writers aren't used to being accessible to their audience. Some writers appreciate the feedback, but others find it jarring and hurtful. In either case, interactivity is here to stay so this is something that you're just going to have to get used to.

Extra reading:
5 Crucial Aspects of a Digital Media Transition
Double Readership with a Simple Tweak

Read Greg at Digital Tonto, his blog about Digital Business and more.

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