How do experts write for the screen?

IABC Conference Update asks Toby Ward "How do experts write for the screen"

IABC Conference Update

Welcome to Issue #2 of the IABC Conference Update...

...the e-mail newsletter of the 2005 IABC International Conference, 26-29 June in Washington, D.C.  
(reproduced in part, June 2005)


Pre-conference tips: How the Web's "All Stars" write for the screen How do the experts write for the screen? To find out, we asked two of our favorite web gurus and this year's All-Star Session presenters, Shel Holtz, ABC and Toby Ward, to share their best tips.

Writing style:
  1. Be succinct: text should be limited to 50% of the words you would write in print. 
  2. Writing should follow the 'inverted pyramid format' with the most important content at the beginning. 
  3. Plain English/French [why English/French?] must be used when creating links, headings and site names. 
  4. Task or scenario-based content should be used instead of organization jargon. (e.g. "Order a computer" instead of "CompuDesk")


  1. Headlines and listings should be limited to 75 characters including spaces. 
  2. Sentences must be 'tight' and limited to 20 to 40 words per sentence. 
  3. Do not underline text-underlining is reserved for links.
  4. Do not use ALL CAPS or italics for more than a few words as they're hard to read. 
  5. Encourage scanning by breaking up text using short paragraphs, sub-headings, bullets and call-outs. 
  6. Limit scrolling on a homepage or section page-content should not run more than one or two screens.

Graphic and Technical Standards:

  1. All photos ideally should be JPEGs or GIFs.
  2. Content should be designed for all browsers currently in use.

* Want to learn more? Attend Shel & Toby's 29 June session: "The site is right: The best of the web and intranets, 2005." It's just one of the many fabulous sessions in this year's All-Star track, where you can uncover expert tips from IABC's top-rated speakers, including:

* Angela Sinickas, ABC, on measuring intranets and web sites.

* Russell Grossman on the BBC's change communication program.

* Jim Lukaszewski, ABC, APR on influencing employee attitudes.

* Steve Crescenzo on integrating print and online vehicles.

* And much more!

To see the entire line-up of this year's All-Star Sessions, visit

IABC is the International Association of Business Communicators.

If you enjoyed these tips you may want to read:

Writing for the Web