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Writing for the Web (Geeks' Edition) Paperback – December 1, 2000

3.5 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Publishing on the Web is a very simple task. Publishing content that works well in the online medium and communicates effectively is quite another matter. In Writing for the Web, author and freelance writer Crawford Kilian shares his insights about producing just the right type and amount of content for your target sites.

Kilian acknowledges early on his bias toward print publishing, but his viewpoint offers a particularly relevant discussion for other writers moving traditional content to the Web. Throughout the book, he emphasizes his three principles of Web text: orientation, information, and action. These principles wisely expand the reader's view from content and grammar to the special interactivity and technical-viewing aspects of reading online.

The book is quite brief at only 140 pages, but contains some useful traditional style tips, such as using active tense, strong verbs, and precise word choices. Ironically, the book doesn't include any screen shots to illustrate formatting guidelines in action on real Web sites. This lack of visual connection to the presented techniques detracts from the book's effectiveness.

Nothing ruins the first impression of your Web site than poorly designed content or documents haphazardly ported to electronic form. This book isn't an end-all reference to Web-content presentation, but it certainly offers some useful tips for writing effectively for cyberspace. --Stephen W. Plain

Topics covered:

  • On-screen text
  • Web-site structure
  • Content organization
  • Writing style guidelines
  • Web text editing
  • Corporate content
  • Resumes
  • Personal pages
  • Marketing
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


Kilian is concise, knows the subject, and fully explains why you should or shouldn't do certain things. -- The Georgia Straight, December 7,2000

This is a great reference for anyone looking to make a buck on the Internet or simply get noticed. -- today's librarian, January 2001

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Product Details

  • Series: Writing for the Web
  • Paperback: 194 pages
  • Publisher: Self-Counsel Press (December 1, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1551803038
  • ISBN-13: 978-1551803036
  • Product Dimensions: 9.7 x 8.2 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #8,370,656 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By David Walker on September 27, 2000
Format: Paperback
This thin and flatly-written volume will disappoint anyone hoping for a Web writing manifesto. Kilian brings no new research and an unimpressive bunch of case studies. But by making the case once again for caring about Web text, Kilian's book serves a useful purpose.
Many pages of the book are taken up with advice applicable to writing for any medium: understand your reader's viewpoint, use the "active voice", avoid relying on your spell checker. Devotees of that classic writers' how-to manual, Strunk and White's The Elements of Style, will find a startling amount of familiar material. So will devotees of Web usability expert Jakob Nielsen and his Alertbox site. A substantial slice of Kilian's book could well have been gathered off a handful of well-known Web sites.
But Kilian also makes a series of points that have been missed or underemphasised in discussions of Web writing to date:
* The Web demands your writing deliver "joltage". A former chief executive of the Fairfax newspaper group liked to compare the newspaper-reading experience to a warm bath. Web reading, by comparison, is a 30-second shower - get in, get the job done, wake you up, don't hang around. As Kilian puts it: "Computers condition us for high joltage. A 'jolt' is an emotional reward that follows a prescribed action ... We feel deprived if we don't get some sort of jolt at regular intervals, so we go where we hope to find more stimulation which, on the Web, means web sites."
* Beware old-style marketers who see the Web as another opportunity to pump a message at a commercial audience. In most media, the marketer hunts the customer down and delivers a broadcast or printed spiel that can be hard to avoid.
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Format: Paperback
Crawford Killian's book is packed with tips on how to structure information for a web page - how to format, how to edit for clarity and brevity - how to use navigation cues and hold reader interest. The section on grammar reviews the basics from a web perspective. He also covers persuasion, editing and marketing your writing, and offers lots of links to illustrate good writing.
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If you're new to Web writing, or to writing generally, you may find Crawford Killian's Writing for the Web useful. Beginners will appreciate the discussion of the major differences between how readers process information online versus in print. And novice writers will benefit from the book's middle section, which focuses on essentials of good writing ("Opt for Strong Verbs over Weak Ones"; "Avoid Cliches"; "Use Simple Sentences"; "Subject-verb disagreements"; etc.). This discussion of writing and editing fundamentals represents more than a third of the book's 137 pages.
As useful as these general writing tips are, they're nothing new to anyone who has read Strunk and White's The Elements of Style or William Zinnser's On Writing Well. Similarly, I think I've learned much more about Web writing by reading non-Web-specific copywriting books. What I was looking for--and didn't get more than a surface treatment of--is a discussion about organizing information on the Web, taking full advantage of the power of hypertext to provide information, and learning more about ways to grab people's attention online.
If you want to write your first Web site and have limited writing experience, this book is a good place to start. You'll get a good overview of the many decisions a Web writer faces, and you'll also pick up a number of good writing tips. But if you're looking to move beyond the basics and develop a dynamically written, marketing-savvy site, look elsewhere for more detailed information.
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If you can cram yourself into a time machine and magically go back to 1994, then this book will be a big help. If you're with the rest of us here in 2001, then find another source of help. The badly outdated information about the nature of the Web is only topped by the author's annoying choices of "catchwords" to use throughout the book. "Chunks," for example, apparently means blocks of text containing fewer than 100 words (it's also the author's recommended maximum page length). Not so bad by itself, but when used repeatedly, and with variation (chunk it, chunking), the practice gets a bit annoying. In the preface, the author reveals a bias to print media, which is unnecessary if you read the introduction. I'd suggest taking tips from someone who's worked regularly on the Web and finds it an engaging medium--instead of someone with a limited understanding of the Web's potential who works on it only as a sideline.
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Writing for the Web written by Crawford Kilian will assist Web developers and Website content providers to craft better Web communication that will attract the attention of the Websurfing public and increase the likelihood of producing more favorable results.
Readers will learn that the Internet has produced different demands in publishing. While cool Web graphics, video clips, sounds, and creative HTML programming may have their place in Web development, Kilian believes that the content of HTML - plain text, has been geatly overlooked. He points out that the real purpose of publishing on the Web is to publish text to communicate. Other elements of Website design serve primarily as decorations and have clouded the true purpose of Web publishing. They can also become distracting and actually inhibit Web content comprehension.
Kilian encourages his readers to use the Web for a variety of purposes such as publishing e-zines and finding employment and he shows readers how they can create Web content that will get attention. His emphasis is clearly placed on composing and displaying text. Readers will learn the importance of targeting their specific audiences, how to determine content subject matter, how to structure and display content for maximum visual impact, how to compose effective sentences, choosing the right wording, and selecting appropriate font styles.
This book is a concise guide to Web writing that will provide readers with ideas and encouragement to advance their own literary pursuits. Sample content, writing resources, and the focus on textual content make this book a good choice to jumpstart a Web-writing career - perhaps yours! Highly recommended!
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