By Adrienne Erin
Online Career Tips, Contributor
Online writing has come a long way since the time of ICQ, AIM, and other instant messaging platforms were popular. I remember scoping the web for different blogs to read, and people were writing like they do in instant messaging. “Wat I mean is u cant completely understand what the government is saying 2 us,” is an example of a political article I would come across, and don’t get me started on the way people write on social media. Shudder.
But times are changing, and people are slowly learning about when a little professional formality is in order, even online. Professional online writing has many differences when compared to more informal writing online. The most obvious is the style and word choice in which you have written the article.
When writing professionally, take into account the audience for which you are writing. What do they want to see and read, and in what way do they want that information presented to them? If you are aiming at a demographic that includes 22-30 year olds, you may rethink using the same strategy you used to break down things to 50-60 year old businesspeople.
Write Professionally with 5 Tips:
1. Back Up Your Thoughts
We all have our own personal opinions on things, and we would all like most people to agree with us all the time. On your personal Facebook, you may just post a status update with an opinion, but on a professional page or blog, you’ll need to back up your claim with researched evidence and examples.
Your readers have the ability to instantly look up what you are saying, whether it is a synonym for “cat” or a reference to some particularly helpful Mustang video, all without leaving their browser. Don’t make them have to do the research for you – back up your opinions with evidence. Google is a powerful tool – use it!
2. Try It Without the Intro Paragraph
To make your article the best it can be, you must be critical of your own writing. A tip to try is find out if you can get rid of the intro paragraph, and see if your article still makes sense. Is it laid out in a clear structure? Or does it just look like a garbled mess?
Readers of online material aren’t in it for the long explanations. These people are in it to get their information and get on with their lives. Keep this is mind when you lace the post with flowery language that distracts the reader from the main point and makes them want to leave the page. Your posts should be skimmable.
3. Use Headings
Headings are great. They increase the retention of information for the readers, and also increase the ability for the reader to find exactly what they want and move on. You may not be used to using headlines in your traditional writing – Facebook is too informal for them, and they may seem out of place in a traditional essay. But online writing features a unique merge between formal writing and super obvious structure.
4. Don’t Push It
We were always taught that a vast knowledge of jargon and nomenclature makes us seem intelligent and scholarly. Save it for your doctoral thesis. Use the Internet to keep people’s attention – don’t force them to stop and look up every other word, or even worse, leave your post to find something more comprehensible.
5. The Importance of TL;DR
In a traditional essay or thesis, the very end would make up a conclusion. Conclusions are equally important in online writing, but they play a different role. What are the “bare bones” of your argument, the “too long; didn’t read” summary? Don’t dash off your conclusion at the end – make it short, snappy, and skimmable. It may be the only thing your audience reads, so make it count!
Ready When You Are
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