National Park Service
US Department of the Interior
National Park Service
Interpretive Development Program

Interpretive Writing

Interpretive Writing

Core Resources

A helpful and practical course for all those who write text for interpretive websites, publications and other media. Discounts are available to NPS employees and partners – check with your Regional Chief’s Office regarding the annual discount code for your region. A basic certificate and advanced certificate are available for this course (see the “Certificates” section of this website).

  • Interpretive Writing Competency Narrative (coming soon)

This document defines the content (knowledge, skills, abilities and behaviors) of this competency. It begins with a competency description and competency standard. All related learning opportunities should be based upon the source curriculum in this document. 

This tool provides a step-by-step process for creating interpretive products. 

This tool provides a step-by-step process for analyzing the elements of interpretive effectiveness in any interpretive product. It is the foundational process for the IDP Peer Review Certification Program. 



Samples of Effective Interpretive Writing (have met peer review standards):

Web Resources

NPS Editorial Style Guide [external link]

NPS Park-Produced Site Bulletins and Publications [external link]



Handles: A Compendium of Interpretive Techniques to Help Visitors Grasp Resource Meanings. Peggy Scherbaum, 2006. Can be used for self-study or classroom training. Includes the definitions and examples of 200 interpretive techniques. (Note: Most parks probably have a copy of this book -- but it is currently out of print.)

Interpretive Writing. Alan Leftridge, 2006. A practical guide to the basics of interpretive writing.