Writing for the Web

Website visitors are often very task-oriented, scanning a site to find the information they need to complete their task as quickly as possible. Therefore, web site text should be optimized for this typical user behavior. Also, keep in mind that users may enter the web site from any page (not just through the homepage), and progress through the site in any order they choose.

AP Style

KU follows AP style, in addition to having its own KU Style Guide. Also, note that phone numbers should now be formatted with a hyphen-separated area code, like this: 785-555-5555. 


Academic units must use the DegreeViewer to present their degree-related content. Future plans for the DegreeViewer include:

  • updated styling
  • editing of all Overview texts by the Marketing Communications editors for consistent style and content

Guidelines for web writing

  • Be concise. This is best achieved by writing in active voice.
  • Put the most important content first. Avoid lengthy, flowery intros. 
  • Use lots of sub-heads and bulleted lists to help the scanning reader find the exact content they want quickly.
  • Front-load headers and sub-headers so the key words are in the first or second word
  • Don’t assume. What may be a common term or phrase to you may not mean anything to a new user.  Use intuitive labeling, and be wary of acronyms.
  • Be cognizant of search engine optimization so that information on your site is more likely to appear in search results. Simply following the guidelines listed above will help. 

Users will give a website higher ratings — and recommend it to others — if the website delivers the information they want quickly and with little searching.

For more tips and rationale, see Jakob Nielsen's How Users Read on the Web or his collection of papers on web writing.


Training Calendar