Write your introduction.
A compelling introductory paragraph is crucial for hooking your reader. Within the first few sentences, the reader will evaluate whether your article is worth reading in its entirety. There are a number of ways to start an article, some of which include:
- Telling an anecdote.
- Using a quote from an interview subject.
- Starting with a statistic.
- Starting with straight facts of the story.
Follow your outline.
You’ve drafted your article in outline form, and this will help you focus on writing a solid and coherent article. The outline can also help you remember how details connect to each other. You will also be reminded of how certain quotes support certain points that you’re making.
- Be flexible, however. Sometimes when you write, the flow makes sense in a way that is different from your outline. Be ready to change the direction of your piece if it seems to read better that way.
Give proper context.
Don’t assume your reader knows as much about your topic as you do. Think about the kinds of background information that your reader needs in order to understand the topic.Depending on the type of article, you might give a paragraph with background information before proceeding into your supporting evidence. Or, you might weave in this contextual information throughout your article.
Show with description.
Use eloquent and descriptive language to give the reader a good picture of what you’re writing about. Carefully choose descriptive verbs and precise adjectives.
- For example, you might write about the grocery shopper having trouble with organic food labels: “Charlie concentrated on jars of peanut butter on the shelf. The words ‘organic’ and ‘natural’ seemed to jump out at him. Every jar said something different. He felt they were shouting at him: ‘Choose me!’ ‘Buy me!’ The words started swimming in front of his eyes. He left the aisle without buying anything.”
Include transitions. Link each separate idea with transitions so that your article reads as one cohesive piece. Start each new paragraph with a transition that links it to the previous paragraph.
- For example, use words or phrases such as “however…,” “another important point is…,” or “it must be remembered that…”
Pay attention to style, structure and voice.
You will want to write with a style, structure, and voice which makes sense for the type of article you are writing. Evaluate your audience to determine what the best method would be to present your information to them.
- For example, a newspaper article will need to offer information in a narrative, chronological format. It should be written with accessible and straightforward language. An academic article will be written with more formal language. A how-to article might be written in more informal language.
- When writing your article, use a strong “anchoring” sentence at the beginning of each paragraph to move your reader forward. Also, vary the length of your sentences, both short and long. If you find all your sentences are about the same word length, chances are your reader will be ‘lulled” into a standard rhythm and fall asleep. Sentences which are consistently choppy and short may give your reader the impression you are writing advertising copy instead of a well-thought-out article.
Write a compelling conclusion.
Wrap up your article with a dynamic conclusion. Depending on your article, this might be a conclusion that empowers the reader. For example, if you’re writing an opinion piece about food labeling, you might convey to your readers how they can learn more about labeling.
- If you started with an anecdote or statistic in your introduction, think about reconnecting to this point in your conclusion.
- Conclusions are often strongest when they use a last, brief concrete example that leads the reader to new insights. Conclusions should be ‘forward thinking’ — point the reader in a direction that keeps his or her “thirst” for knowledge going strong.
Think about adding supplemental material.
You can help your reader understand your topic more clearly by including graphics or other supplemental material.
- For example, you could include photographs, charts, or infographics to illustrate some of your points.
- You could also highlight or develop a major point more with a sidebar-type box. This is an extra bit of writing that delves more deeply into one aspect of the subject. For example, if you’re writing about your city’s film festival, you might include a sidebar write-up that highlights one of the films. These types of write-ups are usually short (50-75 words, depending on the publication outlet).
- Remember, these materials are supplemental. This means that your article should stand on its own. Your writing needs to be understandable, clear and focused without the help of charts, photographs or other graphics.