Scanning vs. Reading on the Web
The TWT Portfolio does require some writing, particularly pieces such as the Teaching Philosophy statement. But you should know that writing for the Web is a little different from writing a traditional academic paper.
Most users of the Web are actually scanning text rather than reading a page in depth. The exception to this is if someone prints a Web page (but you can’t count on a reader doing that.) Therefore usability experts such as Jakob Nielsen recommend writing to enhance scanning.
How do you enhance scanning?
- Short Paragraphs – a paragraph of 1 sentence is OK on the Web. Even the longer paragraphs above are only 2-3 sentences long.
- Use Numerals instead of number words – It is easier to identify numbers in digit form rather than word form. Compare “52 cards” rather than “fifty-two cards.”
- Use Section Headers – Like “Enhancing Scanning”. This gives readers a good road map of what to expect.
- Use lists – Notice how I am listing tips in a list. Bulleted lists or numbered lists both work.
- Bold face Key Words – In text, you might italicize key words, but on the Web bold face is easier to spot and read.
- Use Sans-serif fonts like Verdana, Tahoma, Trebuchet – these fonts are designed for the Web. Fonts like Times New Roman are actually designed for print (where they work beautifully).
Note: If you want to use a particular font for a C.V., consider creating a PDF version with the appropriate print font…as well as a Web version.
And a final tip Don’t use underlines…unless it’s a link. On the Web, underline = link, so avoid underlines for other uses. Use bold or italics instead.