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Letting Go of the Words, Second Edition: Writing Web Content that Works (Interactive Technologies) Paperback

ISBN-13: 978-0123859303 ISBN-10: 0123859301 Edition: 2nd

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Product Details

  • Series: Interactive Technologies
  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Morgan Kaufmann; 2 edition (August 28, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0123859301
  • ISBN-13: 978-0123859303
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 7.5 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #61,837 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"The book is brimming with advanced knowledge for perfecting written communication in our mobile digital age. If you write anything at all (you send emails, don't you?), you need to grab a copy of Letting Go of the Words and keep it close at hand.This book has joined my writer's bookshelf as a valued aid I refer to every day.", January 21, 2014 "This is a must-have book for anyone associated with preparing web copy. It is not a web developer's technical manual, but rather assists users in preparing an effective message for website visitors. I recommend this truly complete and informative book.", May 23, 2013 "This comprehensive volume on the language of web design provides practical advice for developers on the effective use of text and language in the creation of highly usable websites."--Reference and Research Book News, February 2013

Praise from the first edition:

"Redish has done her homework and created a thorough overview of the issues in writing for the Web. Ironically, I must recommend that you read her every word so that you can find out why your customers won't read very many words on your website -- and what to do about it."--Jakob Nielsen, Principal, Nielsen Norman Group "There are at least twelve billion web pages out there. Twelve billion voices talking, but saying mostly nothing. If just 1% of those pages followed Ginny's practical, clear advice, the world would be a better place. Fortunately, you can follow her advice for 100% of your own site's pages, so pick up a copy of Letting Go of the Words and start communicating effectively today.”--Lou Rosenfeld, co-author, Information Architecture for the World Wide Web "If you're looking for a concise, comprehensive, and visual guide containing hundreds of practical online writing tips for personal branding success will give you everything needed to take your writing to the next level in Ginny Redish's Letting Go of the Words.This could be the most important Holiday Gift book you give-or receive-this year."--Personal Branding Blog, November 2012 "If you only read one book about online writing and design, get Ginny Redish's Letting Go of the Words: Writing Web Content that Works. It's a book that can do more good for more websites than any other book I can recommend at this time.You read, then you look. You read a little more, and you look again. Suddenly, it all makes sense!"--Published and Profitable, December 2012

About the Author

Janice (Ginny) Redish has been helping clients and colleagues communicate clearly for more than 20 years. For the past ten years, her focus has been helping people create usable and useful web sites.

A linguist by training, Ginny is passionate about understanding how people think, how people read, how people use web sites - and helping clients write web content that meets web users' needs in the ways in which they work.

Ginny loves to teach and mentor - and to practice what she preaches. She turns research into practical guidelines that her clients and students can apply immediately to their web sites.

Ginny's earlier books received rave reviews for being easy to read and easy to use, as well as comprehensive and full of great advice. She is co-author of two classic books on usability:
* A Practical Guide to Usability Testing (with Joseph Dumas)
* User and Task Analysis for Interface Design (with JoAnn Hackos)

She is also the author of the section on writing on

Ginny's work and leadership in the usability and plain language communities have earned her numerous awards, including the Rigo Award from the ACM Special Interest Group on the Design of Communication and the Alfred N. Goldsmith Award from the IEEE Professional Communication Society.

Ginny is a Fellow of the Society for Technical Communication and a past member of the Board of Directors of both the Society for Technical Communication and the Usability Professionals' Association.

More About the Author

Janice (Ginny) Redish has been a passionate evangelist for plain language and usability for many years. She is an internationally-renowned consultant and speaker, widely-recognized for her pioneering work in bring clarity to web sites, documents, and software interfaces.

Ginny is co-author of two of the classic books on usability and author of numerous papers and book chapters on plain language, user research, writing for the web, and other topics. Reviewers have raved about her most recent book, Letting Go of the Words - Writing Web Content that Works.

Highly sought after as a speaker and workshop leader, Ginny is a dynamic instructor who has trained thousands of writers and subject matter specialists in the U.S., Canada, Asia, and Europe in how to write clearly. Ginny has keynoted conferences in the U.S., China, England, Finland, Norway, The Netherlands, Slovenia, and Spain.

As President of Redish & Associates, Inc. in Bethesda, Maryland, USA, Ginny works with private companies, government agencies, and non-profit organizations to help them make their web sites meet both their business goals and their site visitors' needs.

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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Easy to read.
Daniel Calhoun
I used the first edition book in my college classes and have found the second edition to be quite beneficial as well.
Michael E Sisk
Confused readers will eventually leave the website, still with questions.
David Field

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By COSMIC TRAVELER on September 6, 2012
Format: Paperback
Are you waking up at night worrying about strategy and tactics? If you are, then this book is for you! Author Janice (Ginny) Redish has done an outstanding job of writing a second edition of a book on how to help you have great conversations through your web site, mobile app, social media, and whatever future innovations encourage interactions between you and others.

Author Redish, begins by showing you how to have good conversations through your web site. In addition, the author delves into why planning your content is critical for apps, web sites, individual web topics, blogs, social media messages, and everything you write. She then discusses how to integrate content and design from the beginning. The author then, shows you how to consider the entire site. She continues by looking at the size of your site; if it is large enough, then you may need pathway pages between the home page and the information people want. In addition, the author tackles four important guidelines: Think information, not document; divide your content thoughtfully; consider how much to put on one web page; and, use PDFs sparingly and only for good reasons.
She then continues to focus on not hogging the conversation within a single web topic. Next, the author reminds you how to combine labels with more information. Then, she shows you how to choose a good heading style: questions, statement, verb phrases, etc. The author continues by looking at how to write the paragraphs, sentences, and words of your web content. In addition, she encourages you to use numbered lists for instructions as much as possible. Next, the author warns that you should not make program or product names links by themselves. She then describes what makes illustrations work well, or not work well.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Chris F. Willis on September 21, 2012
Format: Paperback
I have been a huge fan of Ginny's Letting Go of the Words since the first edition as a one-stop resource for my eLearning content development team. We even led an internal workshop around the content of the book, as it is jam packed with best practices for writing for online viewers. This new edition builds on the first with updated research and examples, and is even more needed and welcome.

We find many of the new generation workforce woefully unaware of what our firm considers the most basic rules of writing - understanding the needs of the reader, using active voice, creating a hierarchy of useful headings, paring down the amount of content to fit the delivery medium ... This is especially true of new team members who come to us through a technical or graphic design track, but even degreed writers can be missing key foundational online writing skills. This book is an indispensable tool for filling in those gaps, and level-setting the entire team.

Whether you are tasked with writing for web sites, marketing, eLearning, or business portals, you would be hard pressed to find a more complete and useful primer.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By David Field VINE VOICE on January 17, 2014
Format: Paperback
A friend of mine who is a well-known author recommended this book to me and Ginny was kind enough to send it. Unfortunately it landed on the mess that is my desk and vanished from site and thought for too long.

Now I’ve rediscovered it and wished I’d never lost it. This book is for everyone who writes, not just for the web. I’m interested in writing presentations, and it works very well for that. Many books I’ve seen give vague instructions on how to engage your readers, but Ginny goes far deeper than that. She encourages you to think of how your audience is taking what they read.

An example is the Mint website, where she’s constantly reminding you of what your audiences think. People have many questions as they navigate the site, and you should be constantly aware to provide answers. Confused readers will eventually leave the website, still with questions. Similarly, presentation audiences will tune out if things aren’t clear.

Early on, Ginny points out the necessity of having personas, or sketches of the typical people who will be reading or hearing what you wrote. For each persona, you should consider how they feel after each of your statements. As your argument progresses, so should their thinking - in ways you can predict.

But it’s not just general writing – Ginny explains in considerable detail what works on a website. All too often, sites assume that people will read large amounts of text and click buttons that say “More Info” with no explanation why. Maybe you can recall when you stopped reading a website because it wasn’t saying what you needed to know.

As you can imagine, this is a very easy book to read. There are lots of illustrations that show both good and bad ways of imparting information.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Frank G. Van Bokkelen on February 10, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
It's got all the information it says it does, explains it fairly well with tons of examples, and it's the single cheapest class book I've ever gotten.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By NSlone on October 12, 2013
Format: Paperback
Regardless of what type of writing you do, this is definitely the book for you. This book explains how to write content that will actually work for you. Sometimes good content is a good way of optimizing your website. I personally believe you can apply this book to just about any type of writing.
The author gives several case studies in this book which you can use as examples. I like this book, and since I write reviews and articles for the web, I will certainly be using it as a reference.
Writing in a conversational style engages your visitors' I am personally guilty of. Instead of saying exactly what the link goes to, I will sometimes use More or More Info for a link. If you don't know what you're going to read more info about, why should you click on the link. I will have to go back and fix my links, as well as choose my colors carefully, and especially make sure that the visited link does in fact change color, so my visitors know they have already been to that particular web page.
I also realize from reading that I really need to rewrite my articles and that I need to use this book to make them better. It's like the author takes you by the hand and walks you through the entire process of writing for the web.
I definitely would recommend this book to other people. Do yourself a favor, and get a copy of this book.
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