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How to Improve at Writing Non-Fiction

Updated on November 22, 2012
Illustration by eHealer
Illustration by eHealer | Source

Blending Writing Styles to Engage the Online Reader

Since Google has created more emphasis on duplicate web content on landing pages and blogs, online businesses and websites have actively searched for fresh and interesting web content that answers their potential customers' questions. Typically, anyone who has learned about writing in any of the disciplines has been groomed to write in a journalistic, informal or academic style that holds the writer and their audience hostage to a single conclusion.

What will the Style of the Future Blog Look Like?

So, with the new experience of online writing, shouldn't we drop the rigors of style and create a new method of communication to the online reader? People online read faster, surf at the speed of light and are engaged by numerous topics and discussions that don't always fit a particular "style" mode." Perhaps it's time to blend the best of all styles and create an informative and entertaining way to read online. Let's examine the differences between three paragraphs that essentially say the same thing, but in different styles:

Academic Style: Written in an objective tone and supports facts or conclusions with research studies and citations. The academic style is rigid and is designed to convince the audience the writer's ideas are arguably correct. Cons: Wordy, long-winded and dry. Contractions are not used.

As revealed in the study, My Writing is Boring, 230 college students chosen as participants were excluded due to the inability to consistently read on a college level. The exclusion of participants is often seen as a bias in a study, and this unfortunate incident may invalidate the results. In addition, the deficits in the students reading aptitude do warrant further questions regarding the effectiveness of current reading standards.

Informal Style: Often called a conversational style, an informal style may entertain, provide a fast pace and engage an audience with a personal tone. Cons: Less informative and doesn't impact the reader with facts. Opinions and arguments are loose and poorly constructed.

The study called, My Writing is Boring, threw out 230 college students from the study because they couldn't read on a college level. What does that say about our learning institutions? Of course, the intended study results can't be determined because of the "lack of participation," but maybe it will spark a study about how effective writing courses are for college students.

Journalistic Style: Dramatic and engaging, this style promises to prove facts, entertain, and catch your attention. Cons: Catchy titles will grab a reader's attention, but they don't often work well on search engines. May include exaggerated ideas for stimulation and entertainment.

In a recent study that involved 1000 college students, 230 were excluded because they couldn't read on a college level. The represented college refused to remark on the study, but Mark Henderson, the current dean, did admit that the incident, "Needed further investigation and a possible overhaul of current reading standards." The study, My Writing is Boring, was cancelled over the findings and didn't offer any further comments.

New Rules for Online Writing?


The New Rules for Online Writing

The rules of writing still apply when writing online, although it would be certain that the rules the writer and the reader agree upon will eventually evolve and become something totally different, but better and widely accepted. Making it interesting is paramount, but creating a rapid read out of "facts" can be challenging. Academic writing is persuasive but restricts the use of contractions and long sentences can be exhausting. Journalistic writing is rapid and engaging, but titles and phrases do not make it search engine friendly. Informal writing is less informative and lacks the ability to sway an argument. So, let's see what the future of writing online may look like:

Title: Are College Students Prepared for College? (SEO friendly title)

A new study has inadvertently sparked a new study in the reality of college prepared students. My Writing is Boring, a research study that had included 1000 college students, has ousted 230 of the participants because they, "Didn't have the ability to consistently read on a college level." The researchers have not only cancelled the study, but have hinted that a more important study may be performed to reveal the lack of college reading preparation.

For More Effective Writing Online

  • Write in Shorter Paragraphs: People today read faster and may "cherry pick" their information carefully. Be concise and quickly get to the point.
  • Use Heads and Subheads to highlight key points. People will not read through blocks of text and may read from the bottom to top. Keep readers interested with well defined blocks of texts with relevant photos and headers.
  • Use keywords in titles, headers and the first and last paragraph. SEO is used to help your potential reader find your article. People that are searching for your article are looking for answers, and if they can't find you in a search, they can't find the answers you provide.
  • Provide lists and use links as backup to your argument or research. Instead of using a bibliography to support your view, provide a link to support your resources or examples.
  • Stick to basic grammar and punctuation to prove to your audience that you are serious about providing responsible information. Your text does not have to be written in a formal academic format, but ensure that spelling, grammar and punctuation provide your opinions or research with information that is worth reading and may be valuable.

Writing for an Online Community

In these modern times, people are bombarded with large volumes of information that cannot be completely addressed by the old standards of writing. Although readers have the obligation to learn the mechanics of reading as well, the writers of today and the future must be prepared to keep online text as an important medium that is effective and concise. As our community of writers contribute into the evolution of writing standards and contribute to the online community, we must continue to meet the demands of an ever changing information challenge.

Learn More About Writing On eHealer's Website


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    • dougwest1 profile image

      Doug West 

      6 years ago from Missouri

      I found you Hub helpful so I put an embedded link to my Hub: "Writing, Publishing, and Marketing a Great non-Fiction eBook".

    • eHealer profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Las Vegas

      Thanks B., I appreciate your support and insightful comments!

    • B. Leekley profile image

      Brian Leekley 

      8 years ago from Bainbridge Island, Washington, USA

      Up, Useful, and Interesting. A well expressed hub. Another difference between traditional nonfiction writing and online nonfiction writing is that the latter has the added dimension of being interactive and expansive. A reader who chooses to follow the external links of a short article and those articles' external links and so on might read the equal of a thick book. Someone else might read as much on a different tangent. Someone else might just read the article. Other ways to be interactive include with Comments, Pols, , etc., and it is lots faster and easier to correct, improve, expand, or update an online work than one published in a print on paper format.

    • eHealer profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Las Vegas

      Okay, thanks for your comments

    • That Grrl profile image

      Laura Brown 

      8 years ago from Barrie, Ontario, Canada

      I think you're wrong about the journalist style of writing. You seem to have it confused with copywriting. I trained in different writing styles in college. The journalism professor would have our heads if we strayed from the basic facts and didn't keep the writing unbiased. Editorials were for giving a biased opinion, within the journalist style. Copywriting is all about presenting the facts, information and opinion in a way which will sway the reader. Copywriting is more about creating sensationalism.

      I really agree about the Internet writing style being different, a combination of informal, journalist and copywriting too.

      Posted this article to my Creative Writing curated content on and Twitter too.

    • eHealer profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Las Vegas

      Thanks Glimmer, you are so good to me. People really do read differently online, as well as different "readers" read online. Most people don't read newspapers, but many others will read blogs. Thanks and always so happy to see you!

    • Glimmer Twin Fan profile image

      Claudia Mitchell 

      8 years ago

      Wow - this is really useful. Love the tip about shorter paragraphs as well as the others. I never really thought about people reading differently, but I do when I read online. Shared this one!

    • eHealer profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Las Vegas

      Hi Blossom, thanks for the support! I appreciate your comments and I hope it helps people with writing online as a new and exciting medium.

    • BlossomSB profile image

      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 

      8 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      A very useful article. Let's hope lots of people find it and it is helpful for them.

    • eHealer profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Las Vegas

      I am so proud that I could be helpful to you! You have made my week! And I am so proud of you, my fellow hubber, for stickin' to it and not giving up. You are a very good writer, I've read your hubs, and yes, you got the gig!!!

    • SunsetSky profile image


      8 years ago from USA

      You helped me land a writing gig with this article. I applied for a writing spot, submitted a sample article, and I didn't get the spot. Right after receiving the bad news, I read your article and realized that I had to put a different spin on my sample article. I reapplied and submitted a sample with more of a journalistic approach and I got the gig! I wanted to let you know that you this was truly helpful to me and I appreciate you taking the time to write it.

    • eHealer profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Las Vegas

      Mhatter, Lol! Thanks for stopping by! Always glad to see you!

    • Mhatter99 profile image

      Martin Kloess 

      8 years ago from San Francisco

      A writing idea for you (and to help me) for Dec. - Jan. College acceptance and scholarship letters. Thanks for your consideration.

    • eHealer profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Las Vegas

      Thanks Cam, you have very insightful thoughts and comments. We are all guilty of the blah blah blah, but I haven't noticed it in your work. Thanks for the support!

    • cam8510 profile image

      Chris Mills 

      8 years ago from Traverse City, MI

      Your composition concerning methodology regarding an enhancement in factual, literary communication, set me to analyze my own habits of casting verbage. Such foresight as you have evidenced in said prolegomenon may well accelerate the evolution of blahblahblahblah. Thanks, this was a very interesting hub. I am going to start working on this right away. Looking back at the beginning of this comment, I didn't start soon enough.

    • eHealer profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Las Vegas

      Thank you Perspycacious, I spotted the "A", I always appreciate the help! Thanks for the "community college teacher" endorsement, I am actually an educator, but for nurses. Thank you so much for reading my hub, I am grateful to your support and discrete help!

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      You are going to be in line for a community college teaching position! Or do you already have one lined up? "•Stick to basic grammar and punctuation to prove to your audience that you are a serious about providing responsible information." Read that line again though, first.

    • eHealer profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Las Vegas

      You're welcome Hubpagesblogger!


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