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Writing Right for the Web. Bob Johnson communicators.unl.edu. You can ’ t force people to read on a website. They want to scan. 1. No paragraph should be longer than five lines (2-3 better). 2. Turn series (red, white and blue) into bullet points

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Writing Right for the Web

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Writing Right for the Web

Bob Johnson


You can’t force people to read on a website.

They want to scan.

1. No paragraph should be longer than five lines (2-3 better).

2. Turn series (red, white and blue) into bullet points

3. Use subheads to break down your page into sections

  • 1. No paragraph should be longer than five lines

  • (2-3 better).

  • 2. Turn series (red, white and blue) into bullet points

  • 3. Use subheads to break down your page into sections

Need to have a scanable page.

But also must have something (carewords) to keep them there.

White Paper on SEO


(read pages 8-23)

5 key SEO copywriting elements

-Title that contains keywords

-Meta-description for search engine results page

-Tightly on topic copy

-Don’t overuse keywords

-Link out

3 essentials of keyword selection

-Get specific, use phrases like “Austin real estate lawyer” rather than “attorney”

-If I told my mom or dad to search for this content, what terms would they use?

-Research, like using Google’s keyword tool

Putting your news online

Using the Events Calendar

Recommending stories for



Event submission

Homecoming Parade

6:00 p.m.-7:00 p.m.

UNL’s annual Homecoming Parade….


First person: (Use this for social media.)

I went to the lecture.

We went to the Lied Center performance.


Second person

(Use this for marketing copy.)

You can vote online.

If you go to the lecture, take notes for me.


Second person (Implied subject)

Go to the parade.

Learn more about nanotechnology.


Third person (‘News voice’)

The website will be available on Monday.

Tuesday’s lecture has been postponed.

Name that voice:

The Innocents Society of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and the President’s Leadership Society of the University of Iowa are asking Nebraskans and Iowans to help select a trophy for the annual student exchange following the Nebraska-Iowa football game

Name that voice:

Here’s your chance to help select the next Nebraska-Iowa football trophy.

Log on to nebraskaiowatrophy.com to cast your vote by Oct. 3. Your vote counts.

Name that voice:

Vote for your pick of the #UNL – University of Iowa trophy at nebraskaiowatrophy.com.

Name that voice:

High school juniors and seniors, their parents and teachers will get an up-close look at opportunities and exciting careers in the field of chemistry on Oct. 15 when the University of Nebraska-Lincoln hosts its 11th annual Chemistry Day.

Name that voice:

Attention high school students: You could win a scholarship to study at UNL at the Oct. 15 Chemistry Day. The University of Nebraska-Lincoln Chemistry Department’s annual Chemistry Quizbowl and scavenger hunt offer a chance to find out more about UNL’s chemistry labs, majoring in Chemistry and careers in chemistry.

Name that voice:

Chemistry Day Oct. 15 at #UNL. We will have learning, fun and prizes for high schoolers @unlchemistry.

Name that voice:

   The University of Nebraska-Lincoln's Landscape Services will coordinate a volunteer effort with Recycling Enterprises to encourage recycling at Husker home football games again this fall. This effort will focus on parking lots and walkways on the UNL campus around Memorial Stadium.

Name that voice:

You still have time to volunteer to help with #UNL’s gameday “Go Green for Big Red” recycling effort @gogreenbigred

Name that voice:

We plan to help with the recycling event on gameday.

Name that voice:

Fans are encouraged to visit the City of Lincoln website to learn more about the roundabouts and how to drive them. Officials suggest that, if possible, those who will drive in that area on gamedays drive through the roundabouts on an earlier date to become familiar with the entrances and exits.

Name that voice:

We are planning to drive to the game on Saturday. Knowing that there are new roundabouts that may be confusing to drive through the first time, we are planning to make a practice run on Thursday.

Name that voice:

If you plan to drive to the Nebraska game this Saturday, city and UNL officials advise you to practice driving the new roundabouts in advance to avoid gameday traffic problems. You can access information on the roundabouts and how to drive them at http://bit.ly/mSUXPt

Name that voice:

Don’t get hung up driving on the new roundabouts on your way to the #UNL football game. Visit http://bit.ly/mSUXPt

Example sites

Gaughan Center


Visitors Center

Style guide notes

Use full sentences.

Style guide notes

Dates: Time, month, date

Example: 2 p.m. May 19

No day of the week and no “th” or “st”.

Use “a.m.” and “p.m.”

Abbreviate only these months:

Jan., Feb., Aug., Sept., Oct., Nov., Dec.

Style guide notes

No exclamation points!!!!!!!!

No ampersands (&) unless they are used in an official name instead of “and.”

Style guide notes

Phone numbers have hyphens in them, not periods.


Style guide notes

Acronyms: Use only on second reference.

Spell out the full name of the organization on first reference.

Example: University of Nebraska—Lincoln

Second reference: UNL

Style guide notes

Capitals: NO ALL CAPS!

Style guide notes

Lecture titles should be in quotes, following the name of the presenter.

Janet Jones, professor, University of California, Berkeley, will present, “How to Increase Soybean Yields.”

Don’t use italics.

Style guide notes

Do not put “Dr.” in front of a professor’s name. “Professor” on first reference is OK. So is putting Ph.D. after the name.

UNL sociology professor Max Smith….

Style guide notes

For news items, use third person voice.

Entice your reader to read more by writing an interesting, targeted Today@UNL summary of about two Tweets in length.

Style guide notes

Often quote marks and apostrophes do not translate well from word documents to the Web. Turn off smart or “curly” quotes before copying and pasting something onto the Web.

Style guide notes

Most frequently looked-up:

Nebraska Union

Nebraska East Union

a.m., p.m.

master’s degree, bachelor’s degree, doctorate

Style guide notes


One man is an alumnus.

One woman is an alumna.

Several men or a group of men and women are alumni.

Several women are alumnae.

A lecture is “titled,” not “entitled.”

Style guide notes

Big Ten (not Big 10)

Style Guide quiz

Dr. David Wright, Ph.D., provided a campus-wide perspective on his role at the College of Fine & Performing Arts.

The student bulletin is now on-line. The Web site can be accessed at bulletin.unl.edu.

Putting your news online

Adding a photo to your announcement


(Digital Photo Archive)

Shortening your URL




Useful sites

  • gobigred.unl.edu

  • GAMEDAY – go.unl.edu/unlgameday

  • ABOUT LINCOLN – go.unl.edu/lincoln

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