Editing web content is the process of successively refining your content to improve its readability. This is achieved through the careful pruning of unnecessary words or phrases and the unwavering focus on what genuinely interests your readers.
Web content is consumed quite differently from printed materials such as books or newspapers. Visitors to your website or blog will swiftly scan your content for a quick grasp of the material and perhaps proceed to read it from the beginning.
Equipped with an understanding of how website visitors interact with online content, let’s dive into the art of editing web content!
Table of Contents
Inverted pyramid style
The Inverted Pyramid Style suggests placing vital information at the page’s top. Following this, supporting details are added in descending order of importance. This approach guarantees that readers swiftly grasp the key points, even as they casually skim the page.
- Top-Loaded Information: Place the most crucial information at the top of the page.
- Clear and Concise Headlines: Craft catchy or punchy titles to captivate your audience.
- Summarize in Subheadings: Break your content into sections using subheadings.
- Supporting Details: Add detail, explanation and context lower down in the article.
- Engaging Conclusion: Conclude your article with finishing thoughts. Recap the main points in a list, this helps readers who only scanned your article (most readers).
- Links, internal and external: Include relevant links both to your own related content and to other content on the internet that will help your readers understand the subject better.
- Visual elements: Include images, infographics, charts or videos to help break up the text.
- Scannable Content: Use bullet points, numbered lists, and short paragraphs to make the content more scannable.
- Edit for Clarity: Edit for grammar, spelling, and overall readability to enhance the user experience.
This style can help you in editing web content for online readers who typically have limited attention spans and specific information-seeking behaviors.
Write in active voice
When editing web content your goal is to enhance clarity and readability to the fullest extent possible. One highly effective method for achieving this is by using active voice. But before we dive into it, let’s clarify what active voice means.
Active voice is a writing style where the subject of the sentence performs the action, while in passive voice, the subject is acted upon.
To provide some clarity, here are a few simple example sentences that use active voice:
- The dog chased the ball. (Passive voice: The ball was chased by the dog.)
- The teacher graded the papers. (Passive voice: The papers were graded by the teacher.)
- The company launched a new product. (Passive voice: A new product was launched by the company.)
- The chef cooked a delicious meal. (Passive voice: A delicious meal was cooked by the chef.)
- The athlete broke the world record. (Passive voice: The world record was broken by the athlete.)
In each of these examples, the subject of the sentence performs the action, making them clear, concise, and engaging.
As mentioned at the top of this section there are a number of benefits of using active voice in your writing. Here are the benefits:
- Direct and Clear: Active voice is direct, clear, and engaging. It is also easier to read and understand.
- Concise: Active voice is concise and uses fewer words than passive voice.
- Authoritative: Active voice conveys strength and authority.
- SEO-Friendly: Active voice enhances both SEO and user experience by improving readability and understanding.
While passive voice remains grammatically correct, it often lacks the same energy and clarity as active voice. Its structure can feel awkward and unnatural, resulting in more challenging reading. Additionally, passive voice tends to be wordier than active voice. Therefore, it is advisable to primarily use active voice and reserve passive voice for specific instances.
Keep paragraphs short
Keep paragraphs short, ideally 2-3 sentences per paragraph. Use a paragraph to express one idea only, this makes it easier to understand for the reader.
Of course, there are always exceptions but try to aim for brief, clear paragraphs that express one idea to boost the clarity and readability of your content.
Make your content scannable
Website visitors, unlike print readers, will scan your content before committing to reading it. Therefore, creating scannable content is crucial because it helps them quickly determine whether to read more of your content.
Here are several ways to enhance the scannability of your content when editing web content:
- Emphasize Key Points: Bold statements within your text that you want to highlight.
- Use Subheaders: Break your content into sections with informative subheaders.
- Keep Paragraphs Short: Use concise and digestible paragraphs.
- Include Images: Use images to break up the text.
- Be Concise: Write with brevity and clarity in mind.
- Choose Readable Fonts: Select legible fonts that are comfortably sized for most readers.
- Prioritize Contrast: Ensure high-contrast colors to accommodate color-blind readers.
Check your theme settings to fix some of these issues, e.g. font size and color scheme (for high contrast colors).
The rest can be fixed by structuring and writing your content in a way to enhance it’s scannability.
Images serve as a refreshing break from text and offer your readers a breather. Don’t overwhelm your audience with an excessive amount of text without providing these essential image breaks.
Images are a powerful tool for conveying information to your readers. Visual content is often absorbed more quickly and effectively than text by the majority of people.
Web content enriched with images becomes more engaging and entertaining for your audience.
It’s important to note that Google indexes images, so be sure to include descriptive alternative text when adding images. This not only improves accessibility but can also boost your website’s search traffic.
Additionally, visual content can establish a clear hierarchy in your content, guiding readers through your material with ease.
You are not trying to win a writing contest. Make your content as easy to read as possible.
Avoid using uncommon or complex words, as some of your readers might not have English as their first language.
In most cases, it’s better to convey information in a simple and concise manner for your readers. They often have limited time and prefer you to get to the point quickly.
Avoid cliches and jargon
Your readers may not understand cliches or jargon in your content. The more you add these elements to your content, the less readable your content becomes for your audience.
If you find it necessary to include jargon or technical terms, take the time to explain them so that all of your readers can understand, even if you believe they should be familiar with your niche. Keep in mind that some of your target audience may be new to your niche content and will struggle to understand your material unless you provide explanations for jargon and technical terms.
Write. Rest. Edit.
When it comes to editing web content, it’s often a good idea to treat it as a distinct task, separate from the initial creation. Give yourself a little breathing room between the writing and editing stages for the best results.
Otherwise, you may find yourself immersed solely in what you’ve freshly penned and meant to write, rather than embracing the tangible words on the page. Trust me, I’ve grappled with this predicament on many occasions in the past, where blatant errors, subpar grammar, or unwieldy sentences managed to slip past my editing process.
This is why I opt for seeking support from tools and AI – but I’ll delve further into that topic later in the article
Take a break between writing and editing. This space will improve your editing process.
Editing web content is easier with tools
Tools can be helpful in spotting spelling mistakes or bad grammar. Moreover, they can analyze your content, offering suggestions to simplify or clarify any text that might be dense or challenging to read.
Personally, I prefer using AI to help me proofread and grammar-check my content. You need to be familiar with typing in prompts to your favorite AI chatbot though.
If you’re not familiar with AI tools but are eager to learn more about them, take a look at some of the highlighted links below.
How do you chat with GPT 3 online? (Beginner article)
Article Forge Review (Review)
Avoid hyperbolic language
You are not credible when you make hyperbolic statements such as “this is the best thing ever!”. Readers can see through the sensational language – all it does is lower your credibility.
By all means state your opinions – including incredible positive ones, just don’t come off as a salesman.
Consistently writing new content will improve your skills over time. Just like any other skill, the more you practice, the better you become. To become a proficient digital content creator, you’ll need to create hundreds of articles to internalize all the necessary lessons and techniques.
Final thoughts on editing web content
Thanks for reading! I hope you found this article informative and useful. Here is a quick summary:
- Write in Active Voice (subject of the sentence performs the action)
- Use Inverted Pyramid Style (most important content at the top of the page)
- Short paragraphs of 2-3 sentences expressing one idea
- Use images to break up the text
- Write often to improve your writing and editing skills
- Simplify – use less words to express your ideas
- Avoid cliches and jargon
- Use grammar or AI tools to help you edit and improve your content
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