Digital Rhetoric and the Art of Web Writing


Adrianne M. Depew
Digital Media & Writing Specialist, Digital Mantra


Online Courses

Digital Rhetoric and the Art of Web Writing

13 March-17 April 2018 (Tuesdays) | Noon-1:30 PM EDT (GMT -4)

According to rhetorical theorist Lloyd Bitzer, “a rhetorical audience consists only of those persons who are capable of being influenced by discourse and of being mediators of change.” In the modern era of digital spaces and web writing that means everyone is an agent of change.

Rhetoric is the study of written, oral, and digital communication. In this vein, rhetoric teaches you how to argue, inform, and persuade in a variety of contexts, and, therefore, is a highly relevant and marketable skill for professional writers. The power of rhetoric is that it trains you to consider how best to invent, organize, arrange, and produce knowledge relevant to any given situation. Following this line of thinking, web pages are rhetorical and digital studies aid those who want to write and produce content for electronic spaces and understand how those spaces are created. The composition of web writing deals with aesthetic principles such as color, typography, composition, navigation, and hypertext, as well as the systematic basics of programs being used. On top of that, web writing requires perceptive editing and storytelling skills along with great research and analytical abilities. But is that enough?

This six-week course delves into the intersections of rhetoric and web writing to give professional writers new and unique insights into the world of connectedness and digital spaces. We discuss some ways to create more engaging content and learn techniques for appealing to varying audiences. We learn how deal with content management while considering the mechanics underlying web pages, SEO, storytelling and more.  The results of this help better inform our writing approach, methods, and decisions when publishing content to the web.

Learning Objectives:

  • Write persuasively for the web.
  • To write clearly and to revise concisely for readers in web- and digitally-based environments.
  • Conceptualize appropriate information design.
  • Become more effective writers and communicators in digitally mediated spaces.

Session Descriptions

  • What does it mean to write for the web?
  • Navigating the job market
  • Challenges of web writing
  • Good web content
  • Recognizing your audience
  • Context and situation
  • Information and effects: informing the user
  • Analyzing how users consume and contribute to digital spaces
  • Reworking, reusing, and recycling content
  • Research and perspective
  • Tools of persuasion: tone, style, and voice
  • Design principles
  • Visual persuasion
  • Layout, media, and graphics
  • Working with clients
  • Collaborating with coworkers
  • Focus on user experience
  • Managing content
  • Considerations for search engines and accessibility requirements
  • Storytelling in the digital age


Adrianne Marie Depew is a writing instructor, digital media and marketing professional, and writer and editor. Since 2016, she has co-taught business communications and served as a Writing Across the Curriculum (WAC) writing specialist for the School of Business at George Mason University (GMU). From 2013-2015 she served as editor for small publishing firm and currently runs Digital Mantra, a digital media and marketing company. She is also pursuing a PhD in Writing and Rhetoric at GMU, where she studies new media, rhetoric of health and medicine, and digital composition.

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