Writing for the Web

Write short, relevant sentences

Follow the inverse pyramid method: present the main message first and the details after. Readers rarely read word-for-word on the web; instead, they scan for relevant keywords to help answer their questions.

Bold or italicize for emphasis

Bold or italicized words grab the attention of the reader because they emphasize key concepts and are semantically emphasized by screen readers for the visually impaired. Avoid bolding or italicizing entire paragraphs; use them as focal points for what’s important.

Use common words

It’s good practice to use words that users will likely search in a search engine like Google. Even though you are writing for a Canadian university site, you want people outside of Canada to understand. Abbreviations should be used sparingly and only if you acknowledge its use in brackets first. For example, The Office of Faculty Relations (OFR).

Use lists instead of long paragraphs

Lists are easy to scan and create levels of information the reader can consume. There must be a minimum of two items in a list. If you have many comparative lists, consider making a table.

Provide a Read More option

When featuring lengthy stories on a homepage or landing page (i.e. biographies, news stories), include a maximum of 3 sentences and a hyperlinked "Read more" that directs to a page with the full story.

Use headings, subheadings, and anchors in your pages

Dividing pages into manageable sections using headings or anchors makes the information more navigable for a reader seeking specific information. If you choose to use anchors, be sure to include a "back to top" option displayed as (top).

Edit your content

A typo-free, comprehensible website is professional and credible. Have 2 or 3 people proofread for proper punctuation, grammar consistency, abbreviations, and general understanding. Cascade has a built-in spell-check feature.


  • Use descriptive language to introduce a link (i.e. Learn more information about the Dean’s honour role on the President’s page).
  • Avoid using the "click here" prompt. Use"Learn more" or "Read more".
  • Provide links to other pages or websites when it is appropriate to do so. Just because you reference another page does not mean it should be hyperlinked. If you reference a specific page, it only needs one hyperlink to that page, not every time it is mentioned. The names of the links should match the name of the page it links to.