Nicely Said – a Book Review

In the introduction, Erin Kissane calls Nicely Said: Writing for the Web with Style and Purpose (by Nicole Fenton and Katie Kiefer Lee) ‘a writing guide that grounds its wealth of practical advice in empathy for readers and their needs’.

If you read our blog regularly you’ll know this focus on the user resonates with us.

It’s the perfect introduction for anyone new to writing for the web. It also offers valuable tips and advice for experienced web editors looking to develop their writing.

Let’s get in to some of the advice for writing for the web with style and purpose.

Do your research

In our training we’ve been hammering home the need to plan your content. In a chapter on ‘getting your bearings’ this book offers some key points you should consider when preparing to write:

  • understand the material
  • define your goals and mission
  • identify your audience and address their needs
  • decide how you want to talk to your audience

Writing guidelines

To achieve a good level of writing the authors recommend you regularly practice this set of guidelines:

  • be clear
  • be concise
  • be honest
  • be considerate
  • write how you speak

We provide a similar list of top 5 tips for writing for the web to our editors. If you get these right you’ve got a good foundation to build on to develop your writing style.

Writing style

Something I found incredibly useful about this book was the clear definition of voice and tone – and the difference between them.

Voice is your personality; it influences how people perceive you and doesn’t change much.

Your tone changes depending on the situation; it’s directed by the audience you’re writing for.

Voice + tone = writing style.

The power of words

I want to round of this review with a quote from the book. In a single sentence it conveys a clear message about the power of your words and the importance of good writing:

“Your words can guide readers, bolster their decisions, and encourage them to take action.”

Read more

I’d encourage you to read this book to get more detail on the topics I’ve introduced, and so much more. I’ve definitely picked up some valuable advice that will improve my writing.

You can find out more about the book and its authors on the Nicely Said website. There’s also a good list of free resources, including articles and essays, for you to read around the subject.

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About Emma

As one of our web content officers Emma plans, writes and edits content for the central website. She helps to maintain the University’s content style guides and is responsible for development of the team’s website and this blog. Emma is a productivity geek and always on the lookout for solutions that can help the team work smarter.