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. Web site text should be optimized for this user behavior. 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 and KU Diversity Style Guide.

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.

CMS Help

If you are experiencing a critical issue with your live website, please contact the IT Customer Service Center at 864-8080 or itcsc@ku.edu.

For questions on CMS policy, look & feel, and all other issues, please visit our help page.

Please contact web services at 864-6415 or webservices@ku.edu for help with your site

Online help can be found under the How-To's section of this website.