Headlines and Paragraphs

The best thing to remember when writing anything for the web—including headlines and paragraphs—is to keep it short.

Web visitors glance at a page to see if they’re in the right place. Clear and concise headlines make it easy for readers to scan the page and short paragraphs make it easy to find what they need.

Organize Your Information

Your most important information should always come first. Unlike other forms of writing, there’s no need to provide background information or to build up to your point.

For example, if you want to announce a new course, don’t explain how the course came to be or why it’s relevant. Announce the course. The supporting information can come next (preferably in easy-to-scan bullet points—see below.)

Headlines

Headlines should be three to five words long. They should clearly announce what the paragraph is about. For example,

Career-Focused Learning
Study Abroad Updates
How to Apply

If you find yourself writing longer headlines, consider working the extra words/information into the first sentence of the paragraph. 

Paragraphs

Paragraphs should be about three to four sentences long. The sentences should also be short—consider breaking lengthy sentences into two or three shorter ones. 

Bullets and Other Lists

If you find yourself stringing information together with commas, consider breaking the phrases out into bullets. For example,

Middlebury is a distinctive, energetic, and welcoming community characterized by strong friendships, stimulating course work, inspiring connections with faculty, and rich experiences beyond the classroom.   

This could be rewritten as follows:

Middlebury is a distinctive, energetic, and welcoming community, where you’ll experience the following and more:

  • Strong friendships
  • Stimulating course work
  • Inspiring connections with faculty
  • Rich experiences beyond the classroom

Yes, the content becomes “longer,” but it is much easier to scan. 

Other Topics of Interest

Writing for the Web
Middlebury Editorial Style Guide  
Page Titles, Blurbs, and Meta Descriptions
SEO 101
Components
Web Accessibility

Details

Article ID: 352
Created
Fri 9/9/22 3:08 PM
Modified
Fri 9/23/22 2:54 PM