My husband is taking a writing for the web class right now online, and they have been talking a lot about the differences between internet writing and printed writing. The information you read in a book or magazine is a lot different than the information you read on the web, both in format and in actual content. This is something that you may not notice at first, but you will if you ever decide to write for the internet. Whether you write for a blog or for a legit website, you will need to change your structure to match the way the internet works. The overview below explains how web writing differs from printed writing so you can adjust your compositions accordingly.
One of the biggest differences in web writing and printed writing is in the audiences that read the pieces. On the internet, people are looking for quick answers and entertainment. They want to be able to scan through a piece of writing and pull all of the information they want within seconds. In print, people are more willing to actually read long paragraphs to find out information and answer their own questions. This impacts the way that writers communicate their ides because they have to address the needs of their audience. The only way to do that is to understand how they think and change their styling accordingly.
Everything on the internet is broken down into chunks. Chunks are then broken up with headings, pictures, bullets, and more. You can see that in this article alone. I have headings that break up all of this text so you can read about what you want, not search for what you need. Printed works are often broken up into chapters and small paragraph sets, but only if they are really long. An essay for a class is not going to have headings like this because people are most likely to read it from front to back. They know they have a lot ot read, and they are willing to put time in to do so.
Web-based content has to respond to readers and search engines at the same time. Thus it has to contain keywords that a search engine can pick up on so that other people can find the work. With printed writing, you do not have to think about search engines in the slightest. All you have to do is write the information that you want to write and print it off for someone to read. That makes printed writing a lot easier as a whole, but it also make it less interesting in some ways. You have to keep that in mind as you write in the future.
Writing for the web tends to be more colloquial than writing for printed documents. Most web readers prefer slightly informal language because that is easier for them to comprehend. They do not want to have a thesaurus nearby just to read a paragraph or two. If you ever write for the internet, you need to make sure you “dumb down” your work a little bit to reach a larger audience.
Web writing is not for everyone, but it is interesting to learn about. I have made it my career, and I have actually gotten to the point where I struggle with essay writing for the real world. You just have to get used to the formatting you are using at any given time, as that will make a big difference in the success of your work. With the right adjustments, you can reach large audiences with ease.