Reading the World Wide Web

What the Web Adapted from Print

Web documents utilize design techniques from print, graphics, video, and more. As readers we tend to take many of the textual clues in print for granted because we are so used to them. Many of these clues are used in Web documents—they will likely appear familiar to you but there may be some subtle differences in how they are used that you should be aware of.

Titles

Yes, something as simple as the title can tell you quite a bit about the document. Sometimes you can decide whether or not to read further based on the title alone.

In Web documents look for the title at the top of any page, but also look at the title bar at the top of your screen. The blue section in the graphic below is the title bar, it lets you know that you are at "The Writing Center at Colorado State."

Title Bar

Indexes

Many Web sites will have a site index just as you would find in a book. Web site indices would likely include a search function. In many Web indices you will see an arrangement of the letters of the alphabet somewhere on the page, if you click on one of the letters you will go directly to that section of the index without having to scroll to it.

Lists

Web documents use lists to display information beacuse Web readers prefer to scan for information rather than read dense passages of information. Look for bulleted or numbered lists that highlight important information.

Highlighting

Highlighting is anything that calls attention to a piece of text. Common highlighting techniques are bolding, italicizing, and underlining.

These common highlighting techniques are used slightly different on the Web: bolding will likely be accomplished by a change in font size, italics are rarely used, and underlining is generally reserved for links.

Other highlighting techniques that are used on the Web include color and graphics.

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Introduction