Writing Easy-to-Read Content

People read differently online. They scan for information instead of reading every word. You can tailor your web content to this behavior by ensuring that it’s brief and easy to understand. This will make it easy for users to find information as they scan the page.

Content that is easy to scan is also more accessible. Simple language and focused content benefits all users, especially people with disabilities, lower-literacy users and users whose first language is not English.

By making information easy to find and understand, you’ll build trust in your webpages and, by extension, NIU. You’ll also ensure that your content reaches the widest audience possible.

Creating Effective Content

These guidelines will help you create content that is accessible and easy to scan:

  • Use simple, everyday words. Avoid jargon or complex terms.
  • Keep sentences and paragraphs brief and focused. Write sentences of no more than 20 words and paragraphs of no more than five sentences.
  • Use lists and tables when appropriate. They make information easy to scan.
  • Use headings to describe content areas. Descriptive headings help users locate information as they scan a page.

You can also improve your content’s readability by using an active voice and pronouns such as “you.” This aligns with the NIU brand voice. Read more about using brand voice on the web.

Checking Your Content

You can use the Flesch Kincaid Grade Level test to check your content’s readability. This test looks at the length of a text’s words and sentences to score its readability. The score is expressed as a grade level. The test is built into Microsoft Word. Learn how to check readability in Word.

Your content should be at or below an eighth grade reading level. Many web experts and organizations recommend this level for a general audience.

If you have any questions about content readability, contact us at webcommunications@niu.edu.

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