Cheat sheet for web editors

Had some web editorial training and looking to maintain standards? Use this print-and-keep reference as a reminder for you and your team.

Pages 

  • assume each page is the first page of the website the reader has seen 
  • start with the most useful information 
  • 300—750 words

Paragraphs 

  • 1 topic per paragraph 
  • can be very short (1 sentence) or medium-sized (3 sentences), but not long 
  • vary paragraph lengths – this makes the page easier to read 
  • aim for no more than 4 paragraphs between headings

Sentences 

  • 1 point per sentence
  • aim for 25 words per sentence (or fewer) 
  • you can start with ‘but’, ‘or’, ‘and’ 
  • cut all unnecessary words – if it doesn’t add meaning, cut it

Bullets 

  • use to help the reader absorb information 
  • aim for between 3 and 6 list items 
  • initial lower-case and no end punctuation 
  • 1 sentence per bullet 
  • always have a lead-in sentence, completed by each list item 
  • avoid starting each bullet with the same word

Links 

  • front-load with the most useful words (helps people scan-read) 
  • must make sense it read out of context 
  • describe the content you’re linking to (helps users decide to click) 
  • don’t link to different resources with the same link text (like “Read more”) 
  • keep them short – 1 sentence max 
  • link to directly-relevant resources

Headings 

  • organise your page with useful headings 
  • front-load with the most useful words (helps people scan-read) 
  • keep them short, 6 words or fewer 
  • use sentence case, not title case 
  • don’t tease – describe clearly instead 
  • use keywords 
  • don’t follow a heading directly with another heading

Points of style 

  • prefer lower case 
  • use active voice (“We need your registration number”, not “Your registration number is needed”) 
  • use personal pronouns: “you” for the reader and “we” for your organisation
  • avoid complex or esoteric terms – but if you can’t, explain what they mean 
  • don’t use e.g., i.e., etc 
  • avoid all abbreviations/acronyms unless they are universally understood 
  • only use tables for data 
  • you can use bold sparingly for emphasis (never italics)