Five Reasons for Re-Reading ‘Letting Go of the Words,’ Part 1
Instructions to content for the web doesn’t change as quickly as instructions for building software applications. That’s why I decided to re-read Reddish’s book as a refresher, and capture what I think are the top five most important principles.
Why re-read ‘Letting Go of the Words?’
Ginny Redish first published Letting Go of the Words in 2007 for website writers. (It’s about 25 years old in human years!) Most technology books become garage sale fodder before half a decade is up, and authors start planning a second edition sooner than later. That said, some books are bookshelf staples and contain timely principles to review every so often. Here are the top five ideas I gleaned the second time around.
Use these five principles to improve your web writing
1. Use informational and transactional verbs. This falls into the category of passive vs. active space; while “avoiding be verbs” is ancient, it still needs taken seriously.
When creating content for the web, use not only action words, but create calls to action.
Browse, learn, download, continue, search are examples of informational verbs that help the reader learn more about something you want them to know.
Here’s an example: Don’t write, “Click Here…“. Write, “Learn how this technique can increase widget sales.
Buy, register, download, shop are examples of transactional verbs that tell the person to do something.
There are only two reasons why someone may come to your website: to search or to accomplish a task. Give them the verbs they need when writing your content.
2. Don’t let your headlines float. Writing content useful to the way people read — in an F-shaped pattern — is also standard web-writing advice.Take this a step further, too.
Bump your headlines against your paragraph to avoid disrupting the eyes scanning the screen.
This is a floating headline
Is having an extra space between the heading tag and the paragraph more difficult to read? Probably so. It looks like two paragraphs, and it could distract from the message.
This headline makes news because there is no space between it and the paragraph.
Not having an extra space between the heading tag and the paragraph is easier to read
This is the first part of a two part article. Part 2 will be published Wednesday.
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