Online vs. Print: What’s the Difference Anyways?

I don’t think it’s any secret that online writing requires adopting a different style than one would use in print. After all, people are looking for very different things when they look up content online. While some larger print organizations can get away with simply reposting their published articles online, it is definitely beneficial to tweak your stories so that your online content can reach a wider audience.

Creating Headlines

I know I wrote a post on how to properly title your blog posts a while back, but if you need a refresher, here are some main differences to consider between print and online writing.

In general terms, print has more wiggle room for vague or unusual headlines. You tend to see a lot more shocking headlines as a way to lure readers in and keep them reading.

Headlines for the online writing need to be straight to the point, for a variety of reasons. For one thing, the main keywords of your article need to be in the headline to help with SEO. There is also the issue of sharing: articles on the web have the potential to be shared on a variety of other sites and social media, meaning that to lure in a wider audience, the headline needs to be intriguing to a large audience.

The Content of Your Article

Much like the headline of an article, there are differences between the body of an article online and a similar story found in print. While readers will skim printed articles, reading print tends to be a more passive activity.  A writer can get away with more personal anecdotes and elaboration, and odds are the reader will still see the article through to the end.

Online, on the other hand, is far more active. Readers are looking for specific bits of information, and if they cannot see it in one quick skim, they’ll move on to something else. Not only does this mean that you need to get to your point quicker, but you also need to break things up with lists, subheadings, or images to make it easier for your readers to find the information they need. Unlike print, online has the benefit of using links as citation (see what I did there?). That means that if readers want more information, they can seek it out on their own without making your content too long.

Your Role as a Writer

The most obvious difference between print writers and online writers is that online writing is a far more accessible option. While print writers need to send in article queries and get approved by editors, anyone could start their own blog and write about the topic of their choice.

That being said, in order to be a successful online writer, you’ll need to take on a wider variety of roles. While all writers should pay attention to spelling and grammar, print has the benefit of editors and copy editors to catch the odd mistake that the writer may have missed. Writing for online may not have these positions, meaning the writer must play the role of editor as well.

There is also the matter of timing: online tends to move much faster than print. Print publications have a slower turn around and are expected to come out on a set schedule. Online can be updated much faster, meaning that there are more opportunities for content creation, and longer posts can be broken up and published in parts over the course of multiple days.

Readers, do write for print or online publications (or both)? What do you prefer? Let me know in the comments below!

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