How To Write An Unsuccessful Web Article

by Evguenia Alechine

In grad school and academia, we are trained to write technical and strictly structured texts in the form of essays or papers. So, when you want to write about science for a lay audience, all you have learned so far is the best source of don’ts you will ever find. Can you imagine your grandmother reading the paper that you recently published? If you are starting to write for a non-scientific audience, especially if you are writing for the internet, here are 10 don’ts you don’t want to miss:
  1. Follow the structure of a scientific paper. Introduction, materials and methods, results, and discussion. This is the ultimate recipe that will make your reader fall asleep before the fun part has even started.
  2. Use complex technical language. Internet readers love to spend a lot of time reading articles, especially if half of that time is spent in searching for the meaning of technical terms.
  3. Use long sentences and paragraphs. This point is something like: What would have happened if Shakespeare would have become a scientist? Readers like novels; therefore, they will enjoy reading a long piece of complex text, which they will have to re-read anyway since they have lost the main idea in the middle of the sentence.
  4. Never use bullet points. This is absolutely forbidden. This will make things too easy for your readers, and you want them to put a lot of effort in your writing, not just skimming the bullets.
  5. Include very complex graphs. Your readers will be amazed by this. Since they won’t be able to understand a single thing, they will think that you are super smart (despite whatever the graph shows).
  6. Don’t use hyperlinks. You don’t want your reader to find things easily. Instead, include a long list of references in the end (with those small superscript numbers in the text) so that the reader will have to search for each and every reference.
  7. Aim for highly educated readers. You don’t want everyone to read and understand your article. Only those with higher academic degrees should be able to decode your writing.
  8. Avoid emotional involvement. Don’t let people’s feelings get in the way of your message. People will like or dislike your article because they will identify themselves with what you are saying. So, don’t take that chance. You don’t want to depend on other people’s feelings for the success of your article.
  9. Avoid humor. You don’t want your readers to think you are less intelligent because you try to make your writing funny. People don’t like funny, they just want to be informed. So, avoid any intensions of making your article funny or interesting.
  10. Forget about SEO. Last but not least. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) seems to be overestimated these days. Every text has to be optimized for Google and other search engines. You don’t want to depend on whether Google likes or dislikes your article. You want to put your own effort to spread the word or, in Google’s words, “You’re feeling lucky.”