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Letting Go of the Words: Writing Web Content that Works
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Letting Go of the Words: Writing Web Content that Works

4.0 of 5 stars 4.00  ·  rating details  ·  425 ratings  ·  52 reviews
Redish has done her homework and created a thorough overview of the issues in writing for the Web. Ironically, I must recommend that you read her every word so that you can find out why your customers won't read very many words on your website -- and what to do about it."
-- Jakob Nielsen, Principal, Nielsen Norman Group
There are at least twelve billion web pages out the
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Paperback, 365 pages
Published April 1st 2007 by Morgan Kaufmann Publishers (first published 2007)
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The Design of Everyday Things by Donald A. NormanDon't Make Me Think by Steve KrugUniversal Principles of Design by William LidwellThe Visual Display of Quantitative Information by Edward R. TufteSimple and Usable Web, Mobile, and Interaction Design by Giles Colborne
UX books
22nd out of 43 books — 65 voters
Content Strategy for the Web by Kristina HalvorsonThe Elements of Content Strategy by Erin KissaneManaging Enterprise Content by Ann RockleyLetting Go of the Words by Janice G. RedishClout by Colleen Jones
Confab 2011
4th out of 15 books — 6 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,116)
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Matthew Edward
Janice Redish does an excellent job of guiding her readers through every stage of writing user-friendly Web content.

Letting Go of the Words: Writing Web Content that Works addresses all elements of audience-focused content creation, including:

- Writing Web-friendly copy
- Site structure
- User-friendly design
- Information formatting

Big picture considerations (such as the audience you are writing for) are given as much attention as the crucial details of proper text formatting conventions.

Chapters
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Allyson
This was probably one of the most idiotic textbooks I've ever been asked to use, so I will likely be selling this back because I not only got nothing out of it, but it also didn't really elaborate on anything that could have probably benefited readers. There was nothing in here that I didn't already know about writing for the web or web design. By the end of the book, she covers a lot of material without really going in depth or explaining her points. She just briefly touches on something and th ...more
Barbara Langley
This book, Letting Go of Words, was a real help to me. I come in from print media and this book helped me shape my mind for web writing. I recommend it to anyone interested in slimming down your word count, but at the same time getting your message out there.
Stringy
If you have to write any sort of online content but you're more used to writing in an academic, business or personal style, this is the book for you. It's also a great book if you have the job of editing (or just chopping the word count) other people's writing and don't want to offend them!

Redish explains the differences between the way people read reports or books and the way they read a website. Visitors to your website will skim and seek until they find the information they're looking for, ra
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Karen Mardahl
This is for the 2012 edition.

Anyone doing any kind of web writing or technical communication or remotely connected with either should stop now and go buy this book. You need it. OK?

I bought the 2007 edition and never got around to properly reading it! As a friend said, when I sat down to properly read this, I would nod at everything because I already knew it.
Well, yes, I did, but the thing is, I don't always remember the whys and wherefores when doing things. I think it is because I have been th
...more
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Dhuaine
I hoped for a comprehensive batch of guidelines for writing good content for the web. What I got was a rehash of what I had already known from other sources, plus a tiny bit of new stuff - maybe 10 or 15 pages total.

This book focuses almost solely on usability - and on usability of public-purpose websites, government sites, informational sites, and the like. There's pretty much nothing about e-commerce. There's nothing about SEO - usability guidelines for content writing often conflict with SEO
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Matty Pants
Janice Redish does an excellent job of guiding her readers through every stage of writing user-friendly Web content.

Letting Go of the Words: Writing Web Content that Works addresses all elements of audience-focused content creation, including:

- Writing Web-friendly copy
- Site structure
- User-friendly design
- Information formatting

Big picture considerations (such as the audience you are writing for) are given as much attention as the crucial details of proper text formatting conventions.

Chapters
...more
Web Webster
Dec 23, 2010 Web Webster rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: beginning copywriters
Executive summary:

-Info should be chunked (lede sentence and 3 bullets)
-write to your reader's expectations.
-Know who your reader is and, most importantly, what headspace they're occupying when they read your site. Buying? Shopping? Info-grazing? Researching?

Useful for the links to other sites that do (and don't do) well the points being illustrated in the book.

Shorter on research and similarly useful info that can be used internally when jockeying for major changes in the way the site communica
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Kaye McSpadden
Excellent book -- highly recommended for anyone who's involved in writing content for the web.
ACRL
Feb 21, 2014 ACRL added it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: motw
Read by ACRL Member of the Week Heidi Steiner Burkhardt. Learn more about Heidi on the ACRL Insider blog.
Anna
Mar 23, 2011 Anna rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: web
A good, quick, well organized book on writing for the Web. Individual chapters would be a great resource for those teaching Web writing.

I love the grab and go concept. And charts and checklists that I can easily share with my communications team are very helpful.

It's amazing how quickly the examples in the book look dated. Hopefully time for another edition soon!

Redish also spoke at a conference I recently attended, with a focus on plain language, proving that the information and approaches pr
...more
Curtis Newbold
I used this book for the first time in my undergraduate Web Design & Site Development course. Redish's book is wonderfully accessible and full of useful and effective examples, both good and bad. For a textbook, it reads fast and uses a successful organization for each chapter, both of which my students seemed to appreciate. Towards the end of the book some of the content is repetitive ("use the user's words!"), but it doesn't affect the book's overall quality. I WILL use this textbook again ...more
Kat
Jan 27, 2012 Kat rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Web content writers and editors
Shelves: 2012
This is one of, if not *the* best book on best practices for web content. I mainly use it as a reference book, but last year I decided to read it cover to cover to see if I'd missed anything. This book doesn't contain anything new for folks with a background in content usability, but it's an invaluable resource when working with people who're just encountering that concept for the first time. I felt like I was receiving a nice refresher course from Ginny every time I dipped into it.
Marlinex
I was excited to come home to a box from Amazon this afternoon with two new books inside, including Letting Go of the Words. I flipped through this and think it will be an excellent resource for my staff to keep them thinking about how to creatively use content to create usable web pages. There's lots of good "dos and don'ts" illustrations and examples. Plus, it has a forward written by "Don't Make Me Think" author Steve Krug. I'll keep reading and report back.
Emilyn
I thought parts of this book were very helpful. Some of it seemed unrelated to the thesis of the book, though, which is why I only gave it 3 stars. Web content design and usability are of great interest to me, so I had already read or talked about much of what this book discusses. One thing I found frustrating and unhelpful was how much she belabored certain points. I wanted something a bit more concise.
Stephanie
I've been a Ginny Redish fan for a long time. The best supervisor I ever had lived by Ginny's recommendations. While I don't agree with every recommendation in this book, I agree with most of them. This is a great reference book. And its also worth reading cover-to-cover. Overall Ginny has good ideas that will help you improve your Web sites...especially if you manage jargon filled gov. sites.
Andrea
How to write web-friendly copy for users who don't read: short sentences and bullet points with occasional bolding. For a book about cutting down wordiness, it's surprisingly wordy! Good advice but probably intuitive or understood if you already write (or read) any web content. A good place to start if you're new to writing for the web, though.

Tracey
Thankfully, this book transcends evolving interwebz technologies and it's a decent enough primer. It is, however, very high-level. Read it if you know nothing about optimizing content for the web, or if you're bored and feeling inconsequential and need a reminder that you really already do know everything and are still just as smart as you used to be.
Junda Ong
There are too much unnecessary stuff that are not to do with good writing. Disappointed with the content.

Only a few good points about writing that I remembered:
- Gender neutral wring. Use "you", plural, "the/a/an" and verb phase.
- Use active voice instead of passive
- "who does what to whom" instead of "object .. by .."
Margaret Heller
This is a really helpful book. I have to return it to the library, so I had to skim parts that I would rather have read closely. It's not telling you anything you don't already know or suspect if you work on the web, but lots of nice examples and checklists to make sure you aren't forgetting anything.
Tamara
I liked the examples in this one better than the Killer Web Copy book, though they profiled a lot of the same concepts.

Gives basic, easy-to-follow instructions on how to make your website content easier to read and browse.

Helene
Easy to read with many examples and plain language. Some aspects of the book didn't entirely relate to the project I was working on, but that was fine; the book was really helpful in trying to understand usability more. Loved all the examples!
Bill Harrison
Some good advice here for those with no experience writing web content. But the book is pretty simplistic and much of the advice amounts to common sense. A good primer for the first-time web author. Too basic for nearly everyone else.
Jessica Morrison
Good information for someone working with a web dev to create web content...although speaking in buzzwords may drive said web dev insane. For me, the bits near the end about writing for and working with editors were the most helpful.
Meryl Evans
Recommendations from several experts and friends. Thorough resource useful for web content people to ensure they don't miss anything or to find answers if they are not sure of the best way to do something. Mostly common sense.
Patty
To be fair, I didn't read this book, I only scanned it; however, I didn't see anything ground-breaking in it. I love Reddish, but this just seemed like a rehash of the stuff we hear all the time in this profession.
Laura Pasquini
Ginny has perfectly laid out effective web writing that more people should follow! Be sure to pick up this book if you are a web designer OR even someone who is curious how to write online as a novice. Excellent!
John Stepper
It can be a dry read, but it's extremely useful this book will absolutely change your online writing - your blog, your documents, your website - and make it much, much better for you and your readers.
Shana
Best book around that clearly and succinctly addresses writing for the web. Lots of examples and illustrations - how to do it well. I heard the author speak a few months ago -- fascinating!
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