Want to improve your web writing and make your copy as bold and clear as possible? Then try scrolling the text Hemingway editor. This online app highlights common mistakes and suggests ways to strengthen your writing and strengthen copy. It uses the principles followed by the writer Ernest Hemingway, known for his simple, yet strong and direct prose.
In this blog post, I’ve outlined a few ways we can take advantage of these principles when writing for the web.
Cut and paste your copy into Hemingway’s editor. The app will check it. If you see text highlighted in yellow, you’ve written a long or complex sentence. You can see at a glance that you need to shorten these sentences or split them into more than one. Long, disjointed sentences obscure your meaning. Copy is clearer and more persuasive when kept simple.
If you see text highlighted in red, your sentence is too dense and complicated. You will have to rewrite all the sentences in red.
It’s very easy to write a lot of content in the passive voice. What do I mean by this?
Consider the following sentences:
- The bear chased the girl. The troll saved her.
- The girl was chased by the bear. She was saved by the troll.
Active writing, as in the first example, is where the subject performs the action on the object. The bear (subject) chased the girl (object). It’s easy to immediately see who is doing what.
In the second sentence, the girl is the subject. However, she is doing nothing. Instead, she is being agitated by the object that is now the bear.
You can see that this removes some of the energy from your writing which is not what we want online. Instead, it’s best to keep our writing lively. This encourages readers to respond more urgently.
The passive voice also makes it harder for readers to figure out who’s doing what. We don’t want our users to waste precious microseconds deciphering our meaning.
Hemingway helps us by highlighting all the examples of the passive voice. The app will suggest keeping instances of this below a certain number, depending on the length of the text. You may not want to remove all of them, just cut them off.
Ernest Hemingway avoided using adverbs and author Stephen King states that « the road to hell is paved with adverbs. » Why?
Adverbs are largely redundant. Instead of using a verb plus an adverb, you can use a stronger verb first. For example:
He drove fast down the highway
He sped along the highway.
Hemingway will highlight adverbs and phrases that weaken the strength of your writing. Again, you might find it helpful to include a couple of them, but you don’t want the text littered with blue highlights.
Similarly, filler words like
a lot, some, just, really, various, a number of, so, also, that, and then
are also highlighted. You can often remove them without losing any meaning. This will make your text stronger. Whether we are trying to market a course or encourage people to do something (e.g. attend an event, sign up for more information) we want our copy to be as effective as possible.
Hemingway will give you a readability grade. This is the minimum level of education readers need to understand your material. In general, you want to keep readability low to help readers absorb the information. If the level is high, it suggests that the material is long-winded, convoluted, and full of jargon. However, if you are targeting a postgraduate or research audience, you may want to use specialist terms that increase the level of readability of your material. Consider your audience and use your own judgment as well.
Finally, Hemingway provides you with basic stats like word count and also how long it takes for an average user to read your page. This can be useful if you’re trying to keep your content short.
We find Hemingway a useful tool when writing for the web, but like any automated tool, it can only do so much. Before posting anything, you’ll also want to get a real person to proofread your text, ideally someone with no prior knowledge of the topic you’re writing about, to ensure you’ve properly communicated your message as clearly as possible. possible .