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12.6: A Web Writing Recipe- What You Need to Get Started, and Where You Can Go To Get Help

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  • If you want to publish your research writing on the web, you will need to learn a few basic computer skills, you’ll need some modest computer hardware and software, and you’ll need to have access to computer server space that can host your web sites. Here is a basic “Web Writing recipe” to get you started.

    A little knowledge of HTML. Hypertext Markup Language is the basic coding system that makes the Web work. Technically, you don’t have to use HTML to make your web sites, but not knowing anything about HTML can be very confusing.

    Fortunately, HTML is fairly easy to learn. There are many guides to HTML available for free on the Web (and the The Process of Research Writing Catalyst Web site links to some of them), and there are also many books available that provide basic instruction in working with HTML.

    Some basic computer hardware and software. Most personal computers connected to the Internet can be used to make Web pages. However, not all personal computers have the basic software needed to make Web pages.

    You can make a Web page with just about any text editing program, even something as simple as “Note Pad,” which comes on all Windows-based personal computers. However, you will probably want to use a software application specifically designed for making Web pages. There are a variety of free applications that can help you, and there are links to some of these programs at the The Process of Research Writing Catalyst Web site, though the best programs are commercial products. Currently, the two best known products for making Web sites are Microsoft’s FrontPage and Macromedia’s Dreamweaver. You may want to ask the Information Technology specialists at school about the availability of this software on your campus.

    Finally, since you will probably want to include some graphics and photographic images with your Web site, you will also need software that handles graphics and photographs. Again, some of these products are free (though the best ones are not), and you may want to ask the Information Technology specialists at school about the availability of this software.

    Access to a web server. In order to make your Web site available to other readers, you need to upload your Web site (the HTML files and any of the graphics accompany your site) to a Web server. A server “serves” files to Web readers (usually known as “clients” or “users”) when they request a particular Web site by entering in a specific web address.

    Increasingly, many colleges and universities are providing web server space to the academic community so that they can publish their work on the World Wide Web. Ask your local Information Technology specialist for information. There are also numerous other ways to make your Web site available on a server, both for a modest cost or for free.

    The Assignment

    Create a web site to present your research project. Keep in mind that you will need to decide early in the process if you want to present your research as a “web published” version of a linear essay or if you want to present your research in a “hypertextual” format. You should keep in mind an audience of your classmates and your teacher, but remember that your web site will be accessible by anyone on the Internet interested in your topic. Your web site should have as much content as a more conventional essay, and you will need to cite evidence as appropriate as well.

    There are many possible variations to this assignment. For example, since web site projects are excellent opportunities for collaboration, this might be a good project to work on with your classmates.

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