Article first published as The Yahoo! Style Guide: Write Digital Content Everyone Will Read on Technorati.
There’s a lot of information packed into The Yahoo! Style Guide a new book from Yahoo!. While other style guides and manuals have kept the topics of writing, user-interface, webpage coding, and SEO separate–The Yahoo! Style Guide brings it all together–making it a one-stop-guide for every member of your digital team.
One of the most useful chapters in the book is on copywriting for search engine optimization (SEO), and includes tips about keywords, links, page titles and metatags. People and search engines don’t scan pages in the exact same way but there are some similarities to keep in mind, e.g. both need to know: what a page is about, what’s important, options for acquiring more information.
There are excellent suggestions too, about how to “write for the world.” We’re reminded that the Web is a worldwide medium and “site visitors probably come from more than one country and more than one culture. Collectively, they probably speak several languages. It’s a good practice to make the text on your site clear to as many people as possible.” Five best practices we’re urged to put into practice are: 1) Keep the sentence structure simple, 2) Include “signposts”: words that help readers see how the parts of a sentence relate, 3) Eliminate ambiguity, 4) Avoid uncommon words and nonliteral usages, and 5) Rewrite text that doesn’t translate literally.
You can read through the style guide from beginning to end and use it as a reference when stumped with a punctuation question, wondering how to write a perfect title for your email newsletter or streamlined text for mobile devices. The book is filled with loads of great tips. One of my favorites is on editing with screen-reading software so you can hear the page read aloud to you. (In Windows, Narrator or Ease of Use in Windows Vista and on the Mac, Text-to-Speech.)
The Yahoo! Style Guide is also available online with a companion website and includes additional resources and updates. You’ll find a good companion in The Yahoo! Style Guide.
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The optimist proclaims that we live in the best of all possible worlds, and the pessimist fears this is true.