Digital Content: Write Effectively

You can reach many audiences using web pages, emails, announcements, knowledge articles, and other digital content. Before creating content, you need to consider who the audience is and the tone and style of the writing. We have defined tone and style standards for Technology Help digital content and communications. This guide walks you through these aspects of effective digital content and communications writing.

Create Effective Digital Content and Communications

Define Your Audience

Consider Your Tone

Adhere to Language Style Standards

Be clear and concise. Most importantly, we center the user and respect their experience. Style impacts the content’s clarity and how a reader perceives what you’re trying to say. 

For example, in a list of three items do the following:

  • The computer came with a mouse, monitor, and a power supply.

For example, do not do the following:

  • Mac,
  • Windows,
  • iOS,
  • Android.

Use Correct Grammar

Chicago Manual of Style - There are many different styles for grammar and formatting. The main guide that we use is the Chicago Manual of Style. Reference this guide for any questions or clarification about grammar. 

Grammarly Blog - If you are unable to find the grammar resource you need in the above Chicago Manual of Style, use the Grammarly Blog as a supplemental resource. 

Note: The Grammarly browser extension is not approved for University use per the Office of the General Council (OGC) review of the add-on. The Grammarly Blog can be referenced for articles about grammar, but do not use the extension. 

Apply Formatting Standards

Formatting content in a specific way helps ensure a consistent user experience across platforms and devices. Just because something looks correct on your screen doesn’t mean it will appear similarly to others. 

Examples of ways that people access content include a combination of the following: 

  • Adaptive technologies (JAWS, NVivo)
  • Operating Systems (macOS, Windows, Linux)
  • Devices (mobile/tablet, desktop)
  • Browsers (FireFox, Safari, Chrome, Edge) 

When content is properly formatted, all readers can successfully interact with the content across multiple devices and systems.

Review and Revise

Everyone needs an editor. You need an editor. Your colleagues need editors. 

And editors need to be good readers.

The author should have the subject matter expert (SME) review for technical accuracy and then have an editor review for structure and word usage.

An editor's job is to check content structure, sentence construction, and word usage. Someone else should run through any how-to steps to make sure they work. You may also need a SME who can check your content's accuracy. 

If you are a SME, have someone who knows little or nothing about the subject review your content. As an expert, it's too easy to leave out essential information that a non-expert might need to understand content and/or complete steps.

When you create or edit content, proof it yourself first and then have a reviewer editor proof it using the appropriate checklist.