Fresh, functional, findable documents

Although I work pretty much full time on Internet or related projects, I’ve actually only got a very, very small collection of books. Mostly I rely on articles, blogs and discussion online, and my own trial and error, I mean experiential learning. The world wide web changes so quickly I tend to think of books dating faster than a 10 gigabit broadband connection.

I was pretty excited to hear that one of my favourite authors has written a new book on writing good web content.

Quite a few years ago I got a copy of “Web Word Wizardry” by Rachel McAlpine. It’s a really handy book on everything small business owners need to know about attracting customers. Mostly she covers writing for the web, but there is stuff on planning and strategy as well. Rachel has an infectious sense of fun and love of language. I still refer to the book.

As part of assignment for a the professional writing and editing paper I completed a couple of years ago, I wrote a feature article based an interview with Rachel. As well as sharing advice and enthusiasm for good writing online, I found out she isn’t a stickler for applying rules in a blanket way. She commented:

The blog is where the creative writing is…. it’s where I think people do and should break all the boring writing rules. Just do it!!

The organising principle of Rachel’s latest book released in August 2007 shows a light touch. Although the title “Better Business Writing on the Web” sounds dry, what she has written is very readable. At the core are F-words. While you reign in your imagination, think of F as in fresh, focused, functional and forceful. Rachel is writing for people who end up writing for the web when their day-to-day job mostly involves writing dull business reports, policy papers, etc. She aims to help lots of people learn four essential skills for writing online rather than focusing on the needs of specialist web editors.

As well as writing books Rachel delivers training, including an online course, and sends out regular email tips.

Out of interest, the other web book sitting on my shelf is a copy of “the unusually useful web book” by June Cohen published in 2003. She covers everything from planning to search engine optimisation, with interviews with over 50 designers, writers, website producers and other experts.