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Home > Site Map
Not really a map. More of an outline.
Here are the major sections of our site. We walk through each item on the main menu, showing you what lies underneath.
We've excluded some Easter eggs...extras that appear only on certain pages, like e-books we give away, or bonus checklists.
But if you want to see the basic structure of our content, here it is!
1. Trim that text!1a. Cut any paper-based text by 50%.
1b. Use short words.
1c. Make some sentences short.
1d. Make most paragraphs short.
1e. Delete marketing fluff.
1f. Move vital but tangential or supplemental material.
1g. Convert repeating categories of information into tables.
1h. Beware of cutting so far that you make the text ambiguous.
2. Make text scannable
2a. Create a meaningful title.
2b. Insert meaningful headlines and subheads.
2c. Highlight keywords and phrases--and links.
2d. Turn any list into a bulleted or numbered list.
3. Cook up hot links
3a. Make clear what the user will get from the link.
3b. Within a sentence, make the link the emphatic element.
3c. Shift focus from the links or linked-to documents to the subject.
3d. Provide depth and breadth through plentiful links to related information within your site.
3e. Establish credibility by offering outbound links.
3f. Make meta information public.
3g. Write URLs that humans can read.
3h. Make links accessible.
3i. Tell people about a media object before they download.
3j. Announce the new with special links.
3k. Write meta-tags to have your pages found.
4. Write chunky paragraphs
4a. Design each paragraph around one idea.
4b. Put the idea of the paragraph first.
4c. If you must include context, put that first.
4d. Put key conclusions, ideas, news, at the start of the article.
5. Reduce cognitive burdens
5a. Reduce the number of clauses per sentence.
5b. Blow up nominalizations and noun trains.
5c. Watch out for ambiguous phrases a user might have to debate.
5d. Surface the agent and action, so users don't have to guess.
5e. Make a positive statement.
5f. Reduce scrolling.
5g. Let users print or save the entire document at once.
6. Make meaningful menus
6a. Think of a heading as an object you reuse many times.
6b. Write each menu so it offers a meaningful structure.
6c. Offer multiple routes to the same information.
6d. Write and display several levels at once.
6e. When users arrive at the target, make it obvious.
6f. Confirm the location by showing its position in the hierarchy.
Talk like a human being!
Probe your audiences--gently
Listen before you talk
What info consumers want from your text
Do you know who you are talking to?
Analyze their tasks
Lump people together into small groups
Customize, then personalize
Create custom content for each group
Build a unified profile
Use rules or inferences to match individuals & content
Let individuals organize content their way
Consider your aims, honestly.
Develop an attitude!
Cut through anonymity
Let's talk persona to persona
Goodbye documents, hello objects!
Moving content from paper to the web!The problems with massive content
Mark up that text!
Modeling informative objectsWhat is an informative object?
Define each object
Define entities and other alien creatures
Describe what you create--with metadata
Create a formal model
Join the enterprise-wide data model
Benefits of an object-oriented approach to content.
What electronic outlining tools can do for you
How outlining went electronic
How going electronic changes our idea of outlining
How electronic outlining aids collaboration
A new model of outlining: what a difference the medium makes!
A bibliography on outlining
Web Text = Content + Interface
Your words are virtually there
Your words look fuzzy
Your words appear and disappear in a moment
Some of your words are just signposts
When your text becomes the interface
Text as content
Text as interface element
Text = Content + Interface
Warm, warmer, hot!
The point of attention
Simplicity saves attention
Writing means paying attention
Writing within a genre
A genre responds to an audience
A genre has a conventional structure
A genre has an agreed-upon tone
A genre demands that you take on a conventional persona
Adapt the genre to the forum
Go gonzo once in a while
How to write FAQs that really answer customer questions
Write questions in the persona of the guest
Put instructions in numbered steps
Handle branching with bullets
Go ahead, repeat yourself
Find out if you have answered the question
Keep growing the FAQ
Create troubleshooting sections
Embedding your customer assistance: how to write labels, tips, and clues
Put the assistance where people need it
Label those fields
Put embarrassing information where they need it
Give more examples
Case study: Shop.Microsoft.com
How to organize step-by-step procedures
The title is a menu item
Intros are optional
Put instructions into discrete steps
Organize explanations to follow the train of thought
Full model of a procedure
A group of procedures can be a reusable object
Build a process out of a sequence of procedures
Build a set of processes
Let users move down the scale of action
Articulate the strategic decision
How to articulate concepts
Explain the concept modularly
Define classes hierarchically
Create expanded definitions
Go ahead, reassure me
Reward me for exposing myself to danger
Let me out
Explain security before and during the transaction
How to answer customer email
Provide detailed contacts with names and pictures, not faceless forms
Set up guidelines for responses
Make the subject line mean something
Start off recognizing what they said
Encourage your feminine side
Drop in boilerplate answers to common questions
Add a signature block
Case study in e-response: Amazon. com
Mount Fuji: A Conversation with Hokusai
Lao Tse: On the Nature of the Way
Writing and editing for your customers!
Evaluating your content
Coaching your writers
Training your writers
Increasing your Return on Information (ROInfo)
Documenting your database
Supporting groups of writers and editors
Web writing that works
The architecture of content
Creating popular web content
XML for the rest of us
Introduction to technical communication
About our book, Hot Text
Reviews and comments on Hot Text
Editions of Hot Text
Join the spammers in random haiku
Who consumes our information, anyway?
We're all buying more content online
Blogging gets the attention of PR
Is your site getting out of date?
Tog on the magic of interface design
On electronic outlining
What's a blog?
Google tells you how many searches you've done today
ArchiveHurray for FAQs
Set Links Free, BT
If Your Guidelines Fail, Try Entrapment!
Big Blue Guidelines
Problems? In Editing for the Web?
Get Messy, to Join the Conversation
Make Startups Justify Themselves
Personalizing Puts Service at Core
Advice on web writing and editing
Background on blogging
Buzz, news, trends
Finding a job as a web writer or editor
Marketing copy and PR
Info architecture and interface design
Heuristic Online Text (H.O.T.) Evaluations1. Brevity
3. Hot Links
4. Marketing Copy
5. Cognitive Burdens
Take a Position
3. Hot Links
5. Cognitive Burdens
So you wannabe a web writer or editorWhere web writers and editors come from
FAQ on life as a professional Web writer
FAQ on life as a professional Web editor
Web editing--the basics
The debate--freelance gigs vs a staff job
By client name, alphabetically
By type of service
Chronologically by date
In reverse chronological order
BibliographyArticles for magazines and web sites
Scholarly and professional articles
Site Map (You are here!)
Writing that Works!