Writing for the web

Communication and Health Literacy

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Main points

  • Writing for the web is different from writing for print publications. Web-users tend to scan content, picking out key words and sentences of interest.
  • Be succinct and write in a way that helps the reader quickly scan the contents.
  • Comply with your organisation's Internet publishing guidelines and policies.

Writing for the web in general

  • Use plain language.
  • Make the text concise, especially in opening pages. As a general rule, limit the number of words used to half of what you would use for a print publication.
  • Use headings, bullets and numbered lists. Keep headings descriptive and avoid clever or ambiguous headings.
  • List major headings at the top of the page, and link with hypertext to the relevant content.
  • Place the most important information at the top of a page.
  • Split large documents into separate files and link by hyperlink.
  • Ensure information published on websites is accessible to users with disability and/or people browsing the web using assistive technologies.1

Writing for the DHHS website

  • All content on the DHHS Internet site must:
  • Some people cannot access PDFs online. Because of this, it's important to supply content for uploading as an HTML webpage. Only use Word files, images and PDFs to supplement HTML content or when it is impractical to use HTML.
  • Unless essential, do not include personal details (including names) of Agency employees, on any documents that will be uploaded to the website. If you need to include personal details, get that person's approval.
  • For more information see the Writing as a Tasmanian Public Servant sheet in this toolkit.

1. Web Content Accessibility Guidelines Working Group, Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0, World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), 2008, viewed 21 July 2014, www.w3.org/WAI/intro/wcag.php

2. Department of Premier and Cabinet, Tasmanian Government Communications: Websites, DPAC, Hobart, 2014,  viewed 21 July 2014, www.communications.tas.gov.au/channels/websites

3. Web Content Accessibility Guidelines Working Group, Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0, World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), 2008, viewed 21 July 2014, www.w3.org/WAI/intro/wcag.php

January 2019