View Full Version : Different styles for different media

08-15-2008, 03:23 PM
Do you think that you can write the same way for every type of media, or do you need to tailor your style based on where the text will be used? I've noticed that I tend to use shorter words and sentences when I know something will be read aloud and used as audio. I tend to use longer sentences when writing for something in print. Web site text generally has a lot more calls to action.

Do you write differently depending on where the final text will be used?

08-15-2008, 03:34 PM
Yep, I do think you need to write different for the media. An easy example is comparing offline and online writing. People seem to scan more online. My own belief is they will read, but only after first scanning to see if they think what you have to say is worth reading.

It becomes important to make sure your copy reads well when being scanned so the use of headings and blockquotes, and lists grows in importance. Ideally someone should be able to scan your content and get the message of what it's about without reading.

I also think it's important to write with different styles for different media. People read a billboard differently than they read a book. They read a line of text that flashes across their tv differently than they read instructions for putting together a bookcase. Good writing understands who is reading and what mindset they'll be in while reading and adapts accordingly.

Not an easy thing to do by any means.

08-16-2008, 10:07 AM
I really do agree that the style of writing needs to be media dependent. Vangogh summed up online pretty well, but even more so in offline media i think this is important. For example an news article in a newspaper should be an generally is written much differently to a general interest piece, which is written differently to an article in a magazine.

The way things are written in different media types i think needs to be different, to accommodate the different ways people look at that media. For example the newspaper when and if i ever read one, i read mostly just the headline of the article, if it catches my attention i may read the first paragraph or two, if that keep my attention the full article, i almost never read news papers because i find almost nothing in their catches my attention. In comparison if i pick up a magazine i will be picking it up because it is related to a topic of interest and i will generally fully read a few of the articles because the articles are on topics of interest. So a newspaper i am looking to know what i need to know in as little as possible, where as a magazine i am looking to know as much as i can.

Same with online if i went to a news site, i want to know as much as possible in as little time, where as a site on a specific topic i am going expecting to read more in depth and informative content.

08-16-2008, 12:06 PM
Oh yeah, it's the same situation offline. I think the key is understanding that different media means a different audience and also a different way of interacting with the media. You certainly don't read the newspaper the same way you read a book. Your interaction with the paper will be very different from the way you interact with the radio or tv.

08-17-2008, 04:32 PM
I think people tend to expect different things from the media they read or listen to as well. If you read the paper, you're expecting the facts and not opinion. If you read a magazine you're expecting a longer more detailed article, and probably some opinion. Text for television or radio tends to be shorter sentences but is usually structured with the salient facts at the top of the piece in case listeners tune out. Most web site copy is written to either inform or sell or to do both at the same time.

Each media has their own style and I think readers and listeners have been trained to expect a certain style from each form of media. When you throw them a curve ball by trying something different, it can backfire.

08-18-2008, 12:38 AM
I think often for TV especially the sentences will be shorter and include not so much detail sometimes because of the picture effect. While they will also be trying to use what they are saying to get indirect viewers (those that can hear but not see the picture) to move to where they can see the picture. Possibly why they choose to put things that catch a lot of people's attention as the last item before an ad break on the news.

08-18-2008, 03:30 PM
I think you're right Joel. That's also why the people in commercials tend to speak with such emphasis and excitement. You want people to stop and look to see what's so exciting.

I used to do voice over work for commercials on occasion and speaking in that hyper excited tone of voice always drove me nuts. No real person speaks like that.