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Writing for Print vs. Writing for the Web

NCWN Board president and Webmistress Extraordinaire sent me the following link to an interesting article about the differences between effective writing for print and effective writing online:

Jakob Nielsen’s Alertbox for June 9 is now online.

Linear vs. non-linear.
Author-driven vs. reader-driven.
Storytelling vs. ruthless pursuit of actionable content.
Anecdotal examples vs. comprehensive data.
Sentences vs. fragments.

I can’t argue with his theses, but they make me sad. I only recently came around to the utility of text messaging (I have a teenage son), but I refuse to use the cutesy abbreviations so popular with “the kids today.” I insist on using complete sentences and proper punctuation, even if it takes forever, makes my thumb cramp, and makes me somewhat of a dork. Call me stodgy, call me a snob, but I think most grammar rules developed for a reason and are necessary for clear communication. I think there’s something almost holy about a well-crafted sentence, whether it’s one of Hemingwayesque brevity or Faulknerian excess. I think that even the web has a place for fine, full writing.


  1. Wow! That was a great reference. I, too, am struggling with the changes in communication in the new era. I share the sadness, but anticipate interesting new developments in compensation.


    Wednesday, June 11, 2008 at 1:49 pm | Permalink
  2. Hurray! Me too, and obviously quite a few others. Please look at the Senior Women Web online magazine (even if you don’t qualify as a senior woman). It’s heartening to see so much fine (and grammatical) writing on a computer screen. Of course, one could print out the pages…

    Sunday, July 13, 2008 at 10:19 am | Permalink

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