The way writing is published and read changed greatly over the past twenty years. Some changes have been for the good and some changes are shameful. In this article for Freelancewriternow.com, I’ll explain guidelines for writing for new formats.
The medium we use for reading and the purpose for content determines the style of writing.
Mobile Smartphone and iPhone Writing Guidelines
People who are reading information on mobile phone are most likely looking for some fast information such as
- Should I buy this product?
- Where is the nearest Starbucks?
- How do I get to the meeting?
- What is the information I need to know right now?
Mobile readers typically can’t handle more than the first paragraph and may scan the rest of the material. They will scroll through the subtitles to see if there is anything else important for them.
General Rules of Thumb for Writing for Mobile Phones, Smartphones and iPhones
Be sure to:
- Write paragraphs should that are short and contain only few sentences due to the formatting and font size on phones.
- Allow for space between paragraphs.
- Compose short sentences that flow easily without jerky punctuation (mobile hates the semi colon; if you need a semi colon, it’s already too long).
- Use bold to highlight important phrases.
- Group information into subheads for easy scanning.
Look at your draft on a mobile device or simulator to see how it looks, especially if you are using a mobile responsive Twitter Bootstrap theme.
Tabulate for Tablets
People reading on a tablet have more time and space on the screen for leisurely enjoyment of words. They may be:
- Starting the day reading “the paper” with the latest news and comics.
- Relaxing on a coffee break and want to be taken to a better place.
- Have more time to see a larger view of the situation and enjoy a fuller horizon of a photo or landscape.
Tablet and iPad Rules for Writing
Follow all the rules for mobile and plus these rules.
- Make sure that you have a beautiful accompanying graphic that draws the reader in. Tablet users tend to be more visual.
- Use the pyramid approach to information with the more important content in the beginning but pop in a teaser to encourage reading the whole article.
- Consider bullets and other decorations in the middle of the article to give readers a break.
- Consider video if available
- When possible look at the draft on a tablet or size your browser to a tablet width.
People reading content on a desktop computer are a captive audience, but can leave quickly if not given the right information. They have more space to read but also may be tired from working on a desktop for other processes.
Rules for Writing for Desktop Computers
When writing for a desktop audience, follow all the rules for mobile and tablet and also season it with:
- Added sidebars for reminders or summaries.
- Added charts to make information more accessible.
- Links to other articles.
- Links to sources (on smaller screens people are less likely to tap a link because they are in big hurry).
There are some mistakes you should avoid:
- Don’t write, like you Tweet or text, the abbreviations and hash tags stop the reading flow. If you are going to Tweet the story, write it Twitter style, later.
- Don’t use emoticons unless absolutely necessary.
- Don’t forget to proofread after you take a break.
Writing for printed magazines and books is a another story, which I will cover in later blog post/article for all media.
To see how writing is done for mobile and tablets, look at websites such as Mashable, BuzzFeed and the Huffington Post. These media outlets rely on social media and mobile users.