Indeed I do apologise, but there has been method in the madness.
I have been reading Rachel McAlpine’s Web Word Wizardry: A Guide to Writing for the Web and Intranet (2001) and recommend its clear style and common sense. In choosing this template and the one now on Ninglun Apr 06 to Nov 07 and Ninglun’s Gateway I have been driven by the idea of a single column format and minimal scrolling. “People scroll on the web — sometimes,” says McAlpine. My friend Sirdan is apparently typical; if he doesn’t seen an entry in one or two screens he tends to miss it altogether.
The template here does not involve any of the fiddly changes that I had to make on Ninglun Apr 06 to Nov 07. That is a relief. It will however truncate some pictures, some of which I may resize later.
While McAlpine’s book(s), her site, and her blog primarily address commercial web writers, much applies to blogs — a word not mentioned, by the way, in the 2001 book. Blogs did exist then, but have taken off since as we know.
One point she makes does particularly interest me. Having been an ESL teacher herself, McAlpine is attuned to the idea that writing on the web has inevitably an international audience. In the 2001 book she says:
Here’s how to make sure your web pages are easy to understand and easy to translate. Start by writing plain English, and then edit your pages along these lines:
- Be stricter than usual about sentence length.
- Keep sentences simple, with the real subject first.
- Be strict about using positive language and avoiding negative.*
- Try to avoid slang, hidden metaphors, and idiomatic expressions.
- Avoid phrasal verbs.
- Use simple tenses.
- Beware of short common words with many meanings.
- Double-check the clarity of it, they, this, these, that, and those.
I would add that much depends on what you are writing about and who your envisaged audience is; I think those caveats also apply more to commercial or official sites than to blogs. Nonetheless, they are worth thinking about.
* She is talking here of grammar, not of philosophy.