Writing

Overview

Writing content and information is the most important part when creating interfaces. An interface, no matter how well-crafted it is, cannot make up for unclear, irrelevant and inaccurate writing. It is important to maintain a simple, clear, and professional tone when writing for SMU.

  • Work towards a goal. Think about what you want to say and why you’re saying it. Is your writing intended to inspire, inform or persuade?
  • Write clearly, simply, succinctly, and present in a structure that is easy to follow. Users should be able to understand and scan your content easily.
  • Aim for Grade 12-14 in the readability assessment from the Hemingway App.

 

Parts of an article

 

1. Headlines
Headlines should pull a reader in. They should be short, crisp and informative.
2. Copy / Subheader
The opening copy must tie back to the headline. It should tell readers what to expect when they click on it.
3. Article / Body Text
Organize your content so that the most important information comes first. Consider grouping related information together and dividing by subheaders to improve scanability.
4. Microcopy
Microcopy are the texts found in the interface (e.g. welcome messages, instructions, hints, etc). Use simpler diction, and write short sentences for easier reading.

Guidelines

Check for spelling & typographical errors

Check for spelling errors using

Describe buttons and links using meaningful text instead of using 'Click here'

Descriptive link text are better directional aids, and help users understand where they are going more quickly.

sample of a descriptive button

Improve scanability for long articles/large content

  • Add an overview or a summary in the beginning of long articles
  • Emphasize hierarchy and add variety like lists, images, etc.
  • Test for readability at online-utility.org.

sample of improved scanability

Use clear and consistent language and labels

Labels for common operations should be consistent. For example, Sign in and Sign out instead of Login/Logout.

Use easy to understand layman terms

Not all users understand computer technical terminology.  In the event that there are popup boxes or error messages which required users attention, the language used needs to be easy to understand and in layman terms.

sample of good microcopy

Writing content and information is the most important part when creating interfaces. An interface, no matter how well-crafted it is, cannot make up for unclear, irrelevant and inaccurate writing. It is important to maintain a simple, clear, and professional tone when writing for SMU.

  • Work towards a goal. Think about what you want to say and why you’re saying it. Is your writing intended to inspire, inform or persuade?
  • Write clearly, simply, succinctly, and present in a structure that is easy to follow. Users should be able to understand and scan your content easily.
  • Aim for Grade 12-14 in the readability assessment from the Hemingway App.

 

Parts of an article

 

1. Headlines
Headlines should pull a reader in. They should be short, crisp and informative.
2. Copy / Subheader
The opening copy must tie back to the headline. It should tell readers what to expect when they click on it.
3. Article / Body Text
Organize your content so that the most important information comes first. Consider grouping related information together and dividing by subheaders to improve scanability.
4. Microcopy
Microcopy are the texts found in the interface (e.g. welcome messages, instructions, hints, etc). Use simpler diction, and write short sentences for easier reading.