Hot Text: Web Writing that Works


Attention, Web writers! This book will show you how to craft prose that grabs your guests' attention, changes their attitudes, and convinces them to act. You'll learn how to make your style fast, tight, and scannable. You'll cook up links that people love to click, menus that mean something, and pages of text that search engines rank high. You'll learn how to write great Web help, FAQs, responses to customers, marketing copy, press releases, news articles, e-mail newsletters, Webzine raves, or your own Web ...

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Attention, Web writers! This book will show you how to craft prose that grabs your guests' attention, changes their attitudes, and convinces them to act. You'll learn how to make your style fast, tight, and scannable. You'll cook up links that people love to click, menus that mean something, and pages of text that search engines rank high. You'll learn how to write great Web help, FAQs, responses to customers, marketing copy, press releases, news articles, e-mail newsletters, Webzine raves, or your own Web resume. Case studies show real-life examples you can follow. No matter what you write on the Web, you'll see how to personalize, build communities, and burst out of the conventional with your own honest style.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
The Barnes & Noble Review
If you write for the Web, two books cover pretty much all you need to know. The first is Strunk and White's classic The Elements of Style, the one book you should own whether you write novels or cereal boxes. The second is Hot Text: Web Writing That Works, by Jonathan and Lisa Price.

With web writing, much of White's advice is truer than ever. "Omit needless words" comes to mind. Well, the Prices show you exactly what to cut. How to change endless narratives into quick step-by-steps. How to write more active web copy. How to detect pomposity and corporate-speak. (Hint: It helps if you know specifically whom you're writing for. That might mean actually talking to them -- what a concept!)

Titles and headlines carry a big load on web pages: The Prices show how to write great ones. Ditto for menus. They also offer solid advice on linking (No. 1 recommendation: Make clear what the user will get from a link.)

Paragraphs need to be short (like this one): The Prices show how to make each 'graf communicate one idea superbly.

The book is packed with examples. How to make marketing copy more credible. How to write online documentation folks can actually understand. Even how to write for webzines and weblogs. I plan to use it religiously, and so will you. (Bill Camarda)

Bill Camarda is a consultant, writer, and web/multimedia content developer with nearly 20 years' experience in helping technology companies deploy and market advanced software, computing, and networking products and services. He served for nearly ten years as vice president of a New Jersey–based marketing company, where he supervised a wide range of graphics and web design projects. His 15 books include Special Edition Using Word 2000 and Upgrading & Fixing Networks For Dummies®, Second Edition.

Library Journal
There is no shortage of material on web site usability (see Computer Media, LJ 3/1/02). Hot Text shines in its comprehensive coverage of online writing. One will find information on XML and writing for database-driven sites; creating FAQs, blogs and newsletters, and online r sum s; and becoming a web writer or editor. Although it does not break any new ground, Back to the User is a solid summary of current thought on the "user-centered" approach, covering both writing and design. It largely focuses on business sites, with additional information on e-commerce and branding. Both titles are appropriate for public libraries. Shaping Web Usability, while more academic, also addresses specific issues such as designing for older adults and handheld devices. Recommended for larger public and academic institutions. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780735711518
  • Publisher: New Riders
  • Publication date: 1/11/2002
  • Series: Voices That Matter Series
  • Pages: 507
  • Sales rank: 1,165,954
  • Product dimensions: 7.32 (w) x 8.97 (h) x 1.18 (d)

Meet the Author

We are professional Web writers and editors. We regularly coach other writers, showing how to tailor their prose for e-mail, Web pages, and discussions. We focus on text, not design or tags. If you have to write text that will go up on the Web, we're talking to you. We have written for the Internet for the last seven years, so we talk from real experience¿and affection. We love the spirit of the Net.

We come out of a background in journalism (writing for magazines such as Esquire, Harper's, Reader's Digest, and TV Guide), technical communication (writing and consulting with an A-to-Z of high tech firms), art (conceptual art in New York), TV and radio (dozens of interviews, and our own shows).

Along the way, we've written 24 books for major publishers and hundreds of articles for Web sites. Our consulting clients include such firms as America Online, Apple, Broderbund, Cadence, Canon, Cisco,, Disney's, Epson, eToys, FileMaker, Fujitsu, Hewlett-Packard and, Hitachi, IBM,, Ketchum, Kodak, Los Alamos National Labs, Lotus, Matsushita, Middleberg Euro, Mitsubishi, Nikon, Ogilvy, Oracle, PeopleSoft, Relational, Ricoh, Sprint, Sun, Symantec, Visa, Xerox, and Zycad.

Jonathan has taught writing at New Mexico Tech, New York University, Rutgers, University of New Mexico, and the Extension programs of the University of California, Berkeley, University of California, Santa Cruz, and Stanford. Lisa was the Features Editor at from startup days to $80 million merger; she writes a weekly Internet column, ShopTalk, for She frequently appears on TV and radio.

We live in an adobe house in the woods along the Rio Grande as it flows through New Mexico. Our sons, Ben and Noah, take the Web for granted, but prefer football.

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Table of Contents

Home Page.


1. Who Am I Writing for, and Incidentally, Who Am I?

2. What Kind of Thing Am I Creating?

3. What Will the Web Do to My Text?

4. Attention!


5. Idea #1: Shorten That Text.

6. Idea #2: Make Text Scannable.

7. Idea #3: Cook Up Hot Links.

8. Idea #4: Build Chunky Paragraphs.

9. Idea #5: Reduce Cognitive Burdens.

10. Idea #6: Write Menus That Mean Something.


11. Writing in a Genre.

12. Creating Customer Assistance That Actually Helps.

13. Persuading Niche Markets, Individuals, and the Press.

14. Making News That Fits.

15. Entertaining People Who Like to Read.

16. Getting a Job.


17. So You Wannabe a Web Writer or Editor.


18. Writerly Sites.

19. If You Like to Read.


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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted January 10, 2010

    Too rudimentary; a letdown

    This book came recommended to me from a respected colleague so I was surprised at how little I got out of it. Had I browsed it in the store rather than ordering on line I would not have bought it.

    Granted, if you're totally new to the concept of how to identify who your website should speak to and how, this is helpful.

    I was looking for something beyond that commonsense, messaging 101 and thus was disappointed.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 16, 2006

    Hot Text, Hot Topic, Hot Book

    What makes a Web surfer stop clicking his mouse long enough to actually read the content on a particular site? More than likely, it's the way in which the content is written. Writing for the Web is different than other types of writing. Our attention spans are short. The screen resolution is fuzzy. The time we can devote to surfing is limited. How, then, do you write material that attracts a browser and keeps him coming back to your site? Jonathan and Lisa Price's Hot Text teaches both the novice and the experienced Web writer how to produce content that will entice users to spend some of their valuable surfing time reading and engaging with your Web site. The Prices have written twenty-four books and hundreds of articles and have consulted for well known and successful corporations such as AOL, Apple, IBM, Kodak, Sprint, and Xerox. They have written professionally for the Internet for the past seven years, and their backgrounds include work in journalism, technical communication, art, television, and radio. Hot Text is a comprehensive look at Web writing. The book is organized logically and efficiently. The authors present the background and theory behind a particular concept and then proceed to offer real-life examples that demonstrate how to apply it. The tone of the book is conversational, straightforward, clear, and concise. The Prices follow the pattern they are attempting to teach, and they inject warmth and humor into their material. Hot Text is not targeted at only the novice or only the professional. It is aimed at anyone who writes or aspires to write effective content for the Web. Hot Text is a teaching tool that hits the mark. You'll learn how to 'Catch the Net Spirit,' 'Write Like a Human Being,' and 'Fine-Tune Your Style for the Genres.' Finally, the Prices give advice on how to break into the business of Web writing. The extensive bibliography will be a great resource for writers. If you write for the Web and would like to learn what works and what doesn't, then Hot Text will be a valuable addition to your library. My copy is already highlighted and dog-eared to within an inch of its life.

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