Tips for good online writing

Online Texte

The perfect online text is well structured and easily understandable. We offer tips and tricks for successful content.

“Put it before them briefly so they will read it, clearly so they will appreciate it, picturesquely so they will remember it, and above all, accurately so they will be guided by its light.” This quote by the American publisher and journalist Joseph Pulitzer is true! The principle of abbreviation applies not only to print media to which Pulitzer refers, but also to online texts, social media content, content marketing, newsletters and the like.

Good online texts catch the reader

In the everyday business of PR, we are facing the challenge of creating good online texts for our food and lifestyle clients. Depending on the clients’ requests, this can be in regards to website texts or content development for the integration in online media.

When researching on a specific topic such as cooking pots or kitchen equipment one would like to find pointed and compact information. Anyhow, the reader must be picked up and find an answer or a solution for his question. But storytelling should not be neglected either.

Storytelling is king

As a communication agency for products from fields of culinary, lifestyle and consumption we regularly write advertorials, newsletter texts or social media posts in the course of online PR. Instead of listing the pan’s product characteristics we are presenting the great dishes the end-user can create with our client’s product. A key factor for anyone who writes online texts: pure facts do not affect anyone, stories do.

Three content-related questions to your own text

Before starting with content development, let’s ask ourselves following questions:

  • Which target group am I writing for?
    • The bait is for the fish to like, not the fishermen. What’s the potential reader interested in?
    • Does it eventually make sense to develop a persona in order to create a very concrete person from the abstract concept or the characteristics of a target group and to have this person act as a representative?
  • What do I want to tell and how can I linguistically and creatively do so?
  • Does my aimed wording fit the medium, the target group and the communication goal?

Five tips for the composition of successful online texts

The content is fixed and you are ready to go? But how should the text be structured? Many readers are eager and do not take much time to read an online text carefully. Therefore, it is particularly important to consider some linguistic and visual factors when developing a text.

1. Short texts are well received

  • The brain can process short sentences better because they are easier to read. Anything that requires more than three seconds of reading time is perceived as complicated by the reader.
  • Short sentences make a text comprehensible. Often seven words per sentence are already enough.
  • If the subject and predicate are close to one another, the reader can see references particularly well. The further apart they are, the more difficult the text gets to read.
  • Sometimes it is better to form two sentences out of one.
  • Important information should be placed at the beginning

2. Avoiding negations

  • Positive formulations are shorter and easier to understand than negative statements
  • For example, instead of saying “The food does not adhere to the pan because of the non-stick coating,” we prefer to write “The pan has particularly good frying properties due to its non-stick coating”.

3. Active instead of passive syntax

  • Use active verbs and avoid modal verbs such as can, must and should, if possible
  • Use passive only in a targeted manner: “The manufacturer produces its cookware in Germany” instead of “The cookware is produced in Germany”. The passive voice has the advantage that no subject has to be named. This can have stylistic advantages, but should not be overstimulated since passive sentences do not answer the “who question”.
  • Do not nominalize verbs. This is very popular in the German language but makes a text harder to comprehend.

4. Vocabulary

  • If the reader just skims through the text, filler words interrupt the reading flow.
  • Hence, reduce phrases such as well, kind of, actually, eventually, certainly, virtually, somehow and especially.
  • Filler words have no independent meaning and weaken the sentence.
  • Depending on the target group only moderately use technical terms and loanwords
  • Use anglicisms specifically and avoid abbreviations.

5. Proof-read and double check

  • Spelling and grammar mistakes happen but come across as unprofessional.
  • Therefore, we recommend using the Word spell checker as well as having a colleague recheck it.
  • Take a break after writing the text and then read it again. This can as well be a useful method.

To do’s for good online texts

Obviously, these points cannot always be implemented equally. Nobody wants to read only three-word-sentences that contain no passive constructions, no modal verbs and no negations at all. But they do offer a good point of reference and simplify our everyday work as a PR agency.  For our clients we provide professional and tailor-made content development for websites, newsletters, social media and the like.

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