Print based texts (newspapers) and multimodal texts (online weblogs) are both aimed at forming interaction between the reader and the text. As Schriver (1997) suggests that the typography of a document can influence a readers perception of the content and help them engage with the subject matter, therefore, in order to further engage readers with the document, designers must be aware of the contrasting styles when designing for online and print.
Online – Malaysia Today Blog
(Caption: Written in a quick and easy format for readers to grasp information fast and consists of a F shaped reading pattern)
Actionable Writing Style
The Web is known for its fast-paced nature; users who search for information online are usually very specific with their search and filtering of content. Thus, content for Web ‘must be brief and get to the point quickly’ (Nielsen 2008) in order to cater to the online readers’ needs. For instance, group content into bullet form and bold keywords to capture the attention readers.
F Shaped Reading Pattern
When reading content on the Web, users tend to read quicker, scanning for keywords that are of relevance to them; instead of reading the complete text. According to Nielsen (2008), ‘eye tracking visualizations show that users often read Web pages in an F-shaped pattern: two horizontal stripes followed by a vertical stripe’
Caption: F Shaped reading (useit.com)
Print - The Star Newspaper
Caption: Written in long and well-construct sentences, consists of many reading paths and significant details are arrange on the top of the page.
Narrative Writing Style
Unlike on the Web, content published in newspapers depict an author-driven style of writing. As readers will take time to read the complete document, a linear narrative with well-crafted sentences in a story telling manner is the right way to arrange a print based document (Nielsen 2008)
Multiple Reading Paths
Due to its nature of a non-linear text, newspapers and magazines have many reading paths. Therefore, the content should be strategically sub-headed in order to maintain the readers attention on the document; as Bernhardt (1986) affirms ‘in the visible text, the goal is to call the reader's attention visually to semantically grouped information, focusing the reader's attention on discrete sections’ Furthermore, all important quotes and images as well as the logo and headline are arranged on the top of the page; as described by Penman (1998) the reader’s eye is also more likely to gravitate to the top of the page and not the bottom.
Bernhardt, SA 1986, ‘Seeing the text’, College composition and communication, vol. 37, no. 1, pp.66-78
Nielsen, J 2008, F-Shaped Pattern For Reading Web Content, Jakob Nielsen’s Alertbox, viewed 18 November 2009, <http://www.useit.com/alertbox/reading_pattern.html>
Nielsen, J 2008, Differences Between Print Design and Web Design, Jakob Nielsen’s Alertbox, viewed 18 November 2009, <http://www.useit.com/alertbox/990124.html>
Nielsen, J 2008, Writing Style for Print vs. Web, Jakob Nielsen’s Alertbox, viewed 18 November 2009, <http://www.useit.com/alertbox/print-vs-online-content.html>
Penman, R 1998, ‘Document structures and readers’ habits’, Communication News, vol.11, no.2, pp. 1 & 10-11.
Schriver, K. A.1997, Chapter 6: ‘The interplay of words and images’, Dynamics in document design : creating texts for readers, Wiley Computer Pub., New York, pp. 361-441