Syllabus: Writing for the Web

A free, open online course at MulinBlog Online J-School

(This syllabus is available for download by following this link)

Course instructor:  Mu Lin
Twitter: @mututemple (Digital Journalism)
Facebook page:


This course focuses on two web writing skills:

  • optimize texts for on-screen reading: how to make long-form texts easy to read and comprehend on a computer screen.
  • optimize texts for ranking by search engines: how to select and embed keywords that will help Google find and rank your texts.

Please understand that this course is not designed to teach you how to write engaging, original contents. Instead, the curriculum is primarily designed to help you master the basic, actionable techniques in writing or rewriting texts that (a) provide an optimal reading experience for online readers and (b) have a higher likelihood of being ranked by search engines.


  • This course consists of four weekly modules. In each module, there are lectures, reading materials, group discussions, assignments, and quizzes.
  • There is no required textbook. You do not need to buy any software for this class, but you need to have access to a stable Internet connection.
  • For a satisfying learning experience for both you and your classmates, we ask that you work on the assignments and actively participate in class activities.

WEEKLY SCHEDULE                                                                   

Course structure and contents will be updated periodically to reflect the best and most up-to-date industry practices. Last updated in August 2014.

Week 1 Web writing is different from print writing

We will explore the uniqueness of reading on a computer monitor and how this uniqueness impacts online writing.

Week 2: How to write for the web audience

We will study a web-writing template and try using this template to rewrite some sample essays that can be optimized for a better online reading experience.

Week 3: How to write headlines for the web

We will explore why writing web headlines differs from writing print headlines, and how to write headlines that work better on the web.

Week 4: How to write for the search engines

We will learn how to research for relevant keywords for your contents, and how to optimize your texts by properly embedding selected keywords. Essentially, we are learning keyword research and on-page search engine optimization (SEO), respectively.

Last modified: Wednesday, October 22, 2014, 3:13 PM