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The Internet has opened a plethora of information to its denizens. Thirty years ago, we knew we could find out how to do anything from the resources in the library. Today, the library is not enough. Accessing information on the superhighway of knowledge is so commonplace that libraries themselves are on the Web.

With this technical advancement comes opportunity: the opportunity to turn words into cash. Many companies are shelling out big bucks for written information, particularly information to help sell a product or service. Most prized are how-to articles. Simple, basic, straightforward articles on how to perform tasks win the Oscar for writing in the new millenium. Although not hard, this type of writing does follow a format specific to the Internet.

Internet readers are scanners by heart. They will read the title, the first few words, or even the whole first paragraph. Beyond that, they scan for key words and hesitate briefly to absorb the input.

People looking for information on the Internet rarely read lengthy articles. If they want that much information, they either bookmark the site or print it out to read later. Advertisers really prefer short and sweet articles that link to their home sites in hopes of making a sale.

Internet writers need to put most of their information in the beginning of the article, where the reader’s attention span lies. The reader is looking for information, not a bunch of adverbs or flowery prose. The first 200 words should be the article in a nutshell; beyond that, only elaboration. Articles should be informative, concise, organized, and interesting. Here are a few suggestions to follow for success:

1. Write what you know. If you are a teacher, write articles about education. If you are a nurse, write about health care. Make your subject very, very specific. Think about for whom you are writing. Who will read your article? Who will care about what you have to say?

2. Break your article down into easy-to-follow steps. Form a loose outline for yourself to follow before you write to make your own task easier. Explain what you want the reader to know in simple, plain language. Numerate steps if you like. Do not have too many steps; either consolidate some information or consider another article.

3. Think of a good title for your article. Make the first word of your article key to the article’s content. More than likely, this word will be used in the search engines to find your article. Use other key words in your title as appropriate.

4. Write an eye-catching, exciting introduction. Use words from the title and other words key to the subject about which you’re writing. Use descriptive nouns and verbs to captivate the scanner into reading more. This “hook” grabs the attention (hopefully) of the individual and gives them an “a-ha” sense of discovery.

5. Write a conclusion similar to the introduction, but rephrase how much better the reader’s life will be with your instructions. Make the reader feel competent at the task described. Give the individual a sense of accomplishment now, before the job is done.

Writing about what you know in sequence will give you ideas for the introduction and the conclusion. When writing the introduction and the conclusion, you will remember phrases and key words you can easily slip into the middle of your manuscript.