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The Web content style guide - Gerry McGovern

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The Web content style guide - an essential reference for online writers, editors, and managers
Gerry McGovern
Paperback / softback
Financial Times/Prentice Hall
UK Publication Date

"The first chapter alone of The Web Content Style Guide is worth the price of the book. Great ideas on writing for either traditional or web viewers. Easy to read and insightful."

Phil Matous, CEO, Taylor Community Credit Union, Michigan, USA

The definitivehow-to guide for all writers, editors and publishers of web content.Good writing is the exception rather than the rule on the Web. One reason for this is simply that good writing is hard to do. Another is that many of the people who've been involved with the Web from the beginning have been slow to realize that writing is a very big part of what the online experience is about.

While the Web has important non-textual uses, most people who use it spend an overwhelming amount of their online time reading words on a page. It's not an accident that we call them webpages. It follows that quality content-well written, well edited-is essential for the success of any website.

In addition to quality content, the design of websites must facilitate finding and reading that content. Web design is about content design. It's about laying out content so that it can be easily read. It's about organizing content so that it can be easily navigated and searched.

The number-one design principle for the Web is simplicity. Quality web design should be all about making life easier for the reader to find content, and then making it easy for them to read that content.

The Web Content Style Guide aims to codify the rules and standards that make for effective web writing. It also aims to give nontechnical guidance to all those involved in designing and running a website, from the chief executive officer to the junior writer. It examines topics from accessibility to animations, from fonts to forms, from information architecture to intranets, from navigation to newsgroups, from search to style guides.

Every entry is written from the perspective that a website must get the right content to the reader as quickly as possible, in the most readable manner. The fonts entry, for example, discusses the font sizes and types that work best onscreen.

The Web Content Style Guide covers some of the same ground as the offline style and usage guides, but is tailored specifically for online managers, writers, and editors.

Grammar and style issues of particular relevance to the Web that it focuses on include: the key differences between American and British English; how the Web accentuates plagiarism; what sort of dash looks best onscreen; the difference between data, content, information, and knowledge; and when and how to date documents.

If you are involved in a website, whether as a manager, designer, writer, or editor, The Web Content Style Guide is essential for you. It is packed with examples, and is written in a clear, concise, and friendly manner.

Based on the authors' 40-plus collective years experience in traditional publishing, and 15 in designing content-rich websites, it is always practical. It champions best-practices in web content writing and design, and is not afraid to kill off a few Internet myths along the way.

Like a famous ad for a paint company, The Web Content Style Guide "does exactly what it says on the tin."

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Gerry McGovern

is a web consultant and author. He has spoken and written extensively on Internet issues over the last seven years. He is an advisory editor for The Business Database (Bloomsbury) on the subject of ecommerce and writes a column for the popular marketing website,, on the subject of content management. He also has his own highly regarded and widely read online newsletter, New Thinking.

Previously, Gerry was founder and chief executive officer of Nua, a content management software development company.

Rob Norton is a freelance journalist in New York City. He is a contributing editor at Business 2.0 magazine, for which he writes the Leading Questions column, as well as news stories and feature articles. He also writes and publishes Net Style, a weekly online newsletter. Rob also does consulting work in journalism, publishing, website design, and information architecture.

Previously Rob was Executive Editor at Fortune magazine, where he was a member of the management team that revamped Fortune in 1996. He was responsible for "First," Fortune's innovative front of the magazine section, and directed Fortune's economics coverage. Rob joined Fortune in 1984, and worked for several years in the magazine's Washington bureau. He has written several cover stories and dozens of feature stories, and also edited Fortune's 70th anniversary issue in February, 2000.

Catherine O'Dowd works as a web consultant with Arconics Ltd, a Dublin-based developer of web publishing and information architecture software. She has previously worked as an online editor for a number of IT companies, as well as freelancing for various print publications.

"The Web Content Style Guide is a valuable resource for anyone involved in creating content for the Web."

Janette Young, Managing Information magazine"This comprehensive and authoritative overview of content managementstarts with useful guidelines to writing and designing web material. If only most webmasters could heed the sound advice given here, then web surfing would be a much happier experience for us all!Following this, the glossary of terms and definitions also deserves thorough reading. Even the more obvious terms are defined to encyclopaedic depth that clearly has benefited from the authors' wealth of experience in content management. I will certainly be recommending this book to people who attend our writing for the web courses." Malcolm Davison, Managing Director,"The first chapter alone of The Web Content Style Guide is worth the price of the book. Great ideas on writing for either traditional or web viewers. Easy to read and insightful."
Phil Matous, CEO, Taylor Community Credit Union, Michigan, USA

Keyword Index
Web sites - Design.
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