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Each Printed Page Can Hold Only So Many Words, but Online We Can Fit So Much More

By Nancy Bartels

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One of the disciplines—and frustrations—of writing for print magazines is their physical limitation. Each page can hold only so many words. Each issue can have only so many pages.

In some ways that's good. You learn to cut to the chase. You learn to stifle the writer's natural tendency to natter on and on. But there's a danger: leaving out important facts. I often describe my job as a print editor as squeezing 20 pounds of content into a 10-pound bag.

Writing content for online venues eliminates that problem. Space is unlimited. You can make a story as long as you want or need it to be. That works to the advantage of even us old-fashioned lovers of the print edition. Frequently, the features you see in the print version are only part of the story. Good content that didn't make the cut ends up online, as do links to related information. When we have more good material than will fit in the print version, we put the URL at the end of a story, directing you to more content on the same subject online. It's worth your time to switch on your computer and check it out.

Read Also: Online Content Treasure Hunt

Take, for example, the two-part series on intergenerational communication among engineers that ran in our August and September issues. This great dialog between Greg McMillan, Danaca Jordan, Hunter Vegas and Soundar Ramchandran had to be split in two to fit the demands of the print version, and even then a lot had to be eliminated, including some great charts outlining the differing ways that each generation communicates. All that extra good stuff is found in the complete article here.

One of our big reader favorites is Béla Lipták's regular column, "Ask the Experts." Frequently more experts respond that we have room for. Those extra comments, full of good advice, are found online. When you see a URL at the end of a column, it will be worth your time to check out the story online.

Our feature, "Bringing the Lincoln Paper Mill Back from the Dead," from the June issue, met that same editorial fate. Some details about how multivariable testing of processes and procedures help resurrect the moribund Lincoln Paper and Tissue Co. were left out of the print version. The complete story, as well as some links to related articles, appears here.

Sure, you can get the nuts and bolts of every feature and column from the print version. We never want to shortchange our print readers. But it's worth the effort to follow those links at the end of certain pieces to see what interesting things couldn't be squeezed into the 10-pound bag.

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