What’s the difference between print and web writing?
Print readers read, web users scan
Your audience(s) will use a different reading style for print and another for the web. Online readers are more time goal-focused and want to quickly locate the information and solutions they need.
Research suggests that 79% of website visitors scan pages, while only 16% read each word. A user leaves a web page or website within eight seconds if it doesn’t appeal to them (at least during their early search phase). Therefore web content must be concise.
As a general rule, web content should be 50% shorter* than print content. A short summary at the top of web pages enable the user to quickly identify whether they are on the page they want. Likewise, headings, bullet points and links act as signposts making it easy for the user to skim-read.
*This depends on the purpose of the web page as sometimes readers of printed publications are directed to a web page for further information.
The BBC offers further information on Writing for the Web on their website at