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Writing: Web Writing

A guide to writing help resources.

Writing for the Web

The Web is transforming how we read and write. With the exception of the Master's paper or thesis, these effects are not part of current grading schemes. Yet, they should be considered as part of your student portfolio and the future of writing. For instance, you may note a movement away from pure text and toward visual elements. Bullets, short paragraphs, and images are rising to the fore. Indeed, the very idea of the 8.5 x 11 inch "page" is diminishing in favor of "screen views." In addition to paper-based options, online versions with hypertext and hypermedia links are becoming commonplace. The sophisticated writer will even construct with search engine application in mind.

The movement is inevitable--but the basic skills remarkably easy to implement. You do not need to understand HTML or http:// protocols. Web programming is already built into Microsoft Word and the other major word processing packages as part of an ongoing "convergence" on the Web:

  • Web Title/Metadata: The HTML "title" is your most powerful coding option. The results appear in the top of browser windows and are a major element for search engine identification. To implement, click on the main Files Button and then Properties. You have opened the word processor's main "metadata" coder and have additional options for placing your name, keywords (now depreciated by search engines), and other information in the page's header.
  • Heading Levels: Use of headings is among the most noticeable of Web effects (and, because of their hierarchical nature, also significant elements for search engine heuristics). Rather than simply bold face and change the size of the type face,Word's built in capacities allow you to automatically insert HTML codes for headings. These are engaged from the pull-down Styles Menu on the left of the Formatting Toolbar (click on View Button and Toolbars). The largest is Heading 1 and often reserved for the title of the piece, Heading 2 for the main sub-categories, and so on--but try to go no lower than Heading 4.
  • Lists: This feature can also be engaged from the Formatting Toolbar. It comes as either "numbered" to imply a formal sequence--or "bulleted" when the order is not important.
  • Footnotes/Endnotes: This function allows one to insert hypertext links to the citations and explanatory notes about the text. In Word, the option is engaged from the Insert Button and the Reference link. Since 8 1/2 x 11 inch pages are largely irrelevant to the Web, Footnotes have increasingly defaulted to Endnotes conventions.
  • Images: Copying pictures from Websites, downloading clipping files, or inserting your own digital photos--have become an almost transparent function under the Inserts Button--operations that can just as easily extend to multimedia. Please note that there are added formatting issues for preserving such content and mounting on the Web.
  • Web Page: To make your word processed document a Web page requires only a simple "Save as Web Page... " command from the list under the Files Button.

Websites - Basic Writing Skills

Websites - Academic Writing

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