How to Write Copy for the Web


The majority of web visitors do not read all of the text on a webpage. Instead, they skim the page, scanning for headings, specific words, links…anything that catches their attention or matches the reason they are visiting your website in the first place.

Because of the way that people read on the web, it is very important to write clearly and concisely and to format your copy in scannable chunks.

Four Techniques To Use

1. Craft clear, concise messages

  • ​​Get to the point immediately
    • Use action verbs
    • Omit unnecessary words
  • Stick to the point
    • Keep the subject matter of each webpage focused
    • Sticking to one topic per webpage increases its visibility to search engines
  • Then stop
    • Don’t give users a lot of unnecessary or extra information

2. Be straightforward

  • Use common words
    • Plain language helps you communicate more effectively on the web
    • It helps readers find what they need and understand what they find
  • Use action verbs

INSTEAD OF: In order to USE: To

INSTEAD OF: We are currently planning USE: We are planning

INSTEAD OF: When used without USE: Without

INSTEAD OF: Is required to USE: Must

INSTEAD OF: Utilize USE: Use

INSTEAD OF: Facilitate USE: Help

INSTEAD OF: Methodology USE: Method

INSTEAD OF: Sufficient  USE: Enough

INSTEAD OF: Conduct an analysis USE: Analyze

INSTEAD OF: Do an assessment USE: Assess

INSTEAD OF: Provide assistance USE: Help

INSTEAD OF: The use of  USE: Using

3. Use personal pronouns

  • Personal pronouns like “You,” “me,” and “I” pull readers in and make your material more relevant to them

4. Provide basic information

  • In your “About Us” section, state who you are, what you do, and where you are located. Don't assume that everyone already knows
  • Include a tagline on your homepage that summarizes what you do in one sentence or phrase
  • List contact information and a map or directions in a prominent place on your website

Four Things to Avoid:

1. Jargon, industry terms, or academic-speak

  • Avoid using words that typical readers may not understand
  • Many terms that are familiar to Georgia Tech faculty and staff, but not to outside audiences

2. Abbreviations and acronyms

  • Online users who are new to a topic are likely to be unfamiliar with related acronyms
  • Overusing acronyms slows your audience down and increases confusion
  • The first time you use an acronym, spell out each word then place the acronym in parentheses immediately after
  • Don’t use more than two and, at most, three abbreviations in each document



3. “Click Here”

  • Tell your audience where they are going when they click a link
    • Within a sentence, hyperlink a keyword or phrase that matches the content to where the link leads
    • Don’t use the actual URL in your copy unless it is short (e.g.,
  • Most stories should contain at least one link to additional information
    • No webpage should be a dead end. Push readers toward other relevant content
  • Too many links in the webpage copy can look cluttered and hard to read
    • A better idea: Provide a list of links at the bottom of the article, or in a sidebar where they will be available but not distracting


Avoid: For the list of winners, click here.

Better: View the complete list of 2014 InVenture Prize winners

Avoid: omSecureDocument&blo bheadervalue2=inline;+file name%3Ddownload.pdf& blobheadername2=Conte nt-Disposition&blobheade rvalue1=application/pdf&b lobkey=id&blobheaderna me1=contentype&blobwh ere=1245286034462&blo headervalue3=abinary;+c harset%3DUTF-8&blobn ocache=true

Better: U.S. Home Prices Keep Weakening

4. PDFs

  • Not all web users have the software needed to open a PDF file
  • PDFs are hard to read online.  They should be reserved for documents intended to be printed
  • Whenever possible, transfer the information from a PDF to a webpage.  This makes the content readable to search engines, too
  • When linking to a PDF, indicate this fact and list the file size in the hyperlink next to the title, e.g., Download the Graduate Student Handbook (317kb PDF)