After all the agonies we suffered some years ago when some tried to make offline text work online, we've finally turned the tables. Now we can borrow back a number of online writing concepts and use them to sharpen up our paper-based marketing communications.

Remember how early website text could make you cringe? Squinting at all 2000 solidly crammed words so obviously lifted straight from an equally cringe-making corporate brochure? Peering at that fat, uniformly gray column of garbage scrolling hypnotically up through the browser window?

Well, nearly all of that has gone to the Great Delete Tab in the sky, thanks to people like Jakob Nielsen (and many others) who showed us how to get real and write for the web as it should be done.

What Goes Around, Comes Around

Now, though, there's evidence that Dr Nielsen's chickens are coming home to roost back in the old offline barn.

First of all, there's a cosmetic trend for online notions to powder the nose of paper-based communication...web and email jargon, smiley faces, text abbreviations (U h8 txt 2?), and more are turning up in printed material every day.

More usefully, many of us who write for a living are applying some online writing techniques and approaches to our offline work, too. In fact the very “fashionableness” of all things online has given us the excuse we needed to clear out a lot of the awful old junk that's been cluttering up some clients' offline text for years.

Online to Offline: Key Connections

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Suzan St Maur ( writes extensively on marketing and business communications and is the author of the widely acclaimed Powerwriting.