Online punctuation #2 – URLs, full stops and semi colons

If you have a URL at the end of a sentence, don’t put a full stop after it. You’ll only confuse people. You probably shouldn’t be writing out URLs on a web page anyway. Rather than writing: “Visit the text-centric website at www.text-centric.com“, you should create a text link e.g. “Visit the text-centric website.”

I avoid using semi colons when writing online. They’re too easily mistaken for colons. According to Strunk & White, the proper use of a semi colon is to join two independent clauses into a compound sentence e.g. “It’s nearly midnight; the restaurants will probably be closed.”

On the web you’re better off using a full stop (period for my US readers) or an em-dash (long hyphen) e.g. “It’s nearly midnight. The restaurants will probably be closed.” or “It’s nearly midnight – the restaurants will probably be closed.”

The biggest workload


Came across this brilliant illustrated article about The Website Development Process.

Regarding content it says: “Working from the sitemap and wireframe, you and the client get together to start planning the content – specifically the text. Content planning and writing is probably the biggest workload the client will have during the project – and it canreally take some time.”

That’s exactly why you need a web copywriter on the team. Not only will they be able to produce the copy faster than the client, they can do it better.

The biggest workload

Came across this brilliant illustrated article about The Website Development Process.

Regarding content it says: “Working from the sitemap and wireframe, you and the client get together to start planning the content – specifically the text. Content planning and writing is probably the biggest workload the client will have during the project – and it can really take some time.”

That’s exactly why you need a web copywriter on the team. Not only will they be able to produce the copy faster than the client, they can do it better.

Online Punctuation #2 – URLs, Full Stops and Semi Colons

If you have a URL at the end of a sentence, don’t put a full stop after it. You’ll only confuse people.

You probably shouldn’t be writing out URLs on a web page anyway. Rather than writing: “Visit the text-centric website at www.text-centric.com“, you should create a text link e.g. “Visit the text-centric website.”

I avoid using semi colons when writing online. They’re too easily mistaken for colons. According to Strunk & White, the proper use of a semi colon is to join two independent clauses into a compound sentence e.g. “It’s nearly midnight; the restaurants will probably be closed.”

On the web you’re better off using a full stop (period for my US readers) or an em-dash (long hyphen) e.g. “It’s nearly midnight. The restaurants will probably be closed.” or “It’s nearly midnight – the restaurants will probably be closed.”

Charles CuninghameFreelance Copywriter

Related posts:

  1. Online Punctuation #1 – General Principles

30 Blogs to Help You Improve Your Copywriting Skills

Direct mail copywriter Dean Rieck has put together a useful list of 30 copywriting blogs that are actually worth reading. He’s based his selection on who provides the most useful copywriting tips.

The blogs that I turn to when I want to hone my copywriting skills are:

  • Copyblogger – my favourite copywriting blog features several excellent, in-depth tutorials as well as articles by some of the best copywriters on the Web.
  • Nick Usborne’s Excess Voice – I’ve been reading Nick’s newsletters for donkey’s years, but he continues to provide valuable tips and tactics for writing online content.
  • Dean Rieck’s blogs, Pro Copy Tips and Direct Creative Blog, are also must reads in my book. BTW, Dean also wrote the must-read 5-Step POWER Copywriting Method
    on Copyblogger.

I also read Bob Bly’s blog. It’s not so much about copywriting, but always has thought-provoking posts on marketing which usually stimulate a lot of insightful comments. Bob’s a great pot-stirrer!

Make words the hero of your site

Last year I was hired to do the copywriting for a large website. The agency’s brief to the client said that a large flash animation would be the “hero element” of the site. The agency poured a huge amount of time and money into the flash animation. It takes up about a quarter of the home page – just sitting there looking pretty.

Meanwhile I wasn’t given a brief. There was no content strategy. My two superiors gave conflicting views on the client’s marketing strategy. I was asked to rehash second-rate press releases and scavenge other content off the web. The result: a pretty site with nothing of value for the target audience. In short, a waste of money.

Unfortunately this happens all too often. A lot of businesses happily pour a ton of money into slick graphics and the latest technological bells and whistles for their site. But they leave copywriting out of the budget, putting their entire investment at risk.

Words are the most important element of a business website. Why? Because the main activity people do on the web is read. If you took all the images off your website, would it still work? Most likely. If you took all the words off your website, would it still work? I doubt it.

It’s the words that do the selling on your site. The words build relationships, give you a competitive edge, drive actions and keep your customers happy. (Not to mention help you get ranked higher in the search engines.) So if you want to be a success on the web you need to make words the hero of your site.

Make Words the Hero of Your Website

HeroLast year I was hired to do the copywriting for a large website. The agency’s brief to the client said that a large flash animation would be the “hero element” of the site. The agency poured a huge amount of time and money into the flash animation. It takes up about a quarter of the home page – just sitting there looking pretty.

Meanwhile I wasn’t given a brief. There was no content strategy. My two superiors gave conflicting views on the client’s marketing strategy. I was asked to rehash second-rate press releases and scavenge other content off the web. The result: a pretty site with nothing of value for the target audience. In short, a waste of money.

Unfortunately this happens all too often. A lot of businesses happily pour a ton of money into slick graphics and the latest technological bells and whistles for their site. But they leave copywriting out of the budget, putting their entire investment at risk.

Words are the most important element of a business website. Why? Because the main activity people do on the web is read. If you took all the images off your website, would it still work? Most likely. If you took all the words off your website, would it still work? I doubt it.

It’s the words that do the selling on your site. The words build relationships, give you a competitive edge, drive actions and keep your customers happy. (Not to mention help you get ranked higher in the search engines.) So if you want to be a success on the web you need to make words the hero of your site.

Mobile Internet – first impressions

I got hold of a 3G mobile phone last week. While I’m excited about the potential of mobile internet, the technology isn’t quite there yet. My main gripe is speed. It’s just too slow. I felt like I was back in 1995 with my 9K modem.

The content that has been created specifically for the medium is generally useable and useful. The provider I was using has a restaurant and bar guide with pithy reviews and tabulated contact details. You can click the phone number and your mobile speed-dials the restaurant or bar.

Website content that had been adapted for mobile wasn’t as user-friendly. Browsing through search results on eBay or dating sites is nigh impossible. It’s very hard to orientate yourself on such a small screen. Also, without a QWERTY keyboard entering text into forms is painfully laborious.

One thing is for sure – on mobile, copywriters must make every word count. They need to be absolutely ruthless with their copy editing.

Online Punctuation #1 – General Principles

The essence of grammar and punctuation is to facilitate communication. This is as true on the web as it is in print.

But due to their lower resolution and flicker, computer screens are harder to read than printed pages. So some punctation should be modified to increase readability online.

Punctuation marks serve to control the flow of sentences and to organise ideas. But they’re small. They get lost easily on-screen. I recommend using online punctuation sparingly.

Web writers need to maintain readability while they communicate their message. Use short sentences and short paragraphs. Arrange information into lists.

Charles CuninghameWebsite Copywriter