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Six Rules for Writing Good Articles

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To write an article, use both primary and secondary sources to gather information about your topic. Primary sources include photos, government records, and personal interviews, while secondary sources include books, abstracts, scholarly journals, other articles, and reference books.

Featured Articles Article Writing. Get familiar with the type of article you want to write. Some article types are better suited to certain topics. Some of the most common types of articles are: This type of article presents facts about something that happened recently or that will happen in the near future.

It usually covers the 5 Ws and H: This type of article presents information in a more creative, descriptive way than a straight news article. It can be an article about a person, a phenomenon, a place, or other subject. It is intended to persuade the reader to think a certain way about a topic.

This article gives clear instructions and information about how to accomplish some task. This article presents information about a person, using information that the writer typically gathers through interviews and background research. Make a list of potential topics.

You might want to write about immigration or organic food or your local animal shelter. In order to write a coherent yet concise article, you need to narrow the topic. This will give you something more specific to write about, which will make for a more forceful article. Ask yourself these questions: What interests you about this topic? What is a point that people usually overlook? What do you want people to know about this topic?

It can be very confusing to know what it all means. Make sure it's something you can write a lot about. You should care about the topic you choose to write about. Your enthusiasm will show in your writing and will be much more engaging for your readers. Your goal is to convey enough passion that your readers think the issue in your article is worth caring about.

Enter some key words into an online search engine. This can lead you to sources that write about your topic. These sources can also give you an idea of different approaches to the topic.

Read as much as you can on the topic. Visit your local library. Consult books, magazine articles, published interviews, and online features as well as news sources, blogs, and databases for information. A good place to start looking for data not readily apparent on the Internet is the Gale Directory of Databases, which exists in both book format available in libraries or online.

Find a unique angle. If you are writing an article about something that other people are also writing about, try to be unique in how you approach the material.

You should add to the conversation, not exist alongside it. Use that opening anecdote to lead into your main argument, known as a "nut graph," which summarizes your unique idea or point of view. In most articles, the writer makes an argument. This is the main thrust of the article. Then the writer finds evidence to support this argument. In order to make a quality article, you need a quality argument. For example, if you are writing about how one person learns how to read organic labels, your overall argument might be that the public needs to be aware that many companies misuse organic labeling.

This leads to dishonest practices in product advertising. Another topic might be: If corporate media organizations own your local newspaper, you may get very little media coverage of your area and not know much about your own community. Write your argument in one sentence. Post it near your computer or writing area. This will help you stay focused as you start working on your article. Learn about your topic and argument. Start researching your specific topic and argument.

Go beyond the preliminary research you already conducted. Learn the fundamental issues at stake, the pros and cons, what the experts say, and so on. The best writers have a "documents state of mind.

Primary sources can include a transcript from a legislative hearing, lawsuit filing, county property indexes with folio numbers, discharge certificates from the military, and photos. Other primary sources could include government written records in the National Archives or special collections sections of your local or university library, insurance policies, corporate financial reports, or personal background reports. Secondary sources comprise published databases, books, abstracts, articles in English and other languages, bibliographies, dissertations and reference books.

You can find information on the internet or in a library. You can also conduct interviews, watch documentaries, or consult other sources. Start identifying ways that you might support your overall argument. You should gather about solid examples that support your overall argument. You can make a longer list of evidence and examples. As you gather more evidence, you will be able to prioritize which ones are the strongest examples. Be wary when researching online.

Draw only from reliable sources like reputable newspapers, experts on the topic, government websites, or university websites. Look for information that lists other sources, since this will help back up any claims made by your source.

You can also find sources in print, and the same precautions should be taken there. You'll need several unrelated sources to get the full picture. Keep track of your research sources. Write down where you get your information so you can cite the sources. Choose a citation style sooner rather than later, so you can compile citation information in the correct format. When you are looking at other sources, be careful about how you compile information. Sometimes, people copy text into a single document to use as notes for their article.

But in doing so, they risk potential plagiarism because the copied text gets mixed up in their own written work. Be sure to keep careful track of which writing is not yours. Paraphrase this text instead, and include a citation. Does this article have a word count? Do you need to fill a certain number of pages?

Also, think about how much needs to be written in order to cover the topic adequately. Think about who is going to read your article. You need to take into account the reading level, interests, expectations, and so on. Before you begin to formally write, write up an outline of your article. This outline will break down which information goes where.

It serves as a guide to help you figure out where you need more information. Choose quotes and other evidence to support your points. This might include a statement that someone has made, or a sentence within another article that is particularly relevant.

Choose the most important and descriptive part to use in your own piece. The best articles focus on targeted keywords that relate to the industry you work in or the product you are selling. Look at your competition to determine what keywords will best serve your needs. For example, if you are selling a dog training kit, you would find keywords that are related to dog training. Once you determine your keyword s , you want to write an article that uses those keywords in the content.

This helps search engines such as Google and Yahoo to find your article when someone searches for the keyword s you have chosen. Once you have written your article, you will need to find websites to put your article on. There are numerous article directories such as ezinearticles. Spend minutes brainstorming ideas and choose the best three or four. Think what your subheadings might be and then write a short introduction that lets the reader know what to expect.

Keep in mind that you want the reader to keep reading, so don't tell them exactly what they will read. This is not an essay!

In an essay you usually restate the question, explain how you will answer it and maybe say why it's important. In an article, that will kill the reader's interest. Look back at this paragraph. What sentence style have I used that makes it semi-informal and speak directly to the reader? But in an article, it's better to give the reader something to think about, perhaps by asking them another question or giving them a call to action.

Often, the best endings link back to the starting point in some way. Here are two endings I could use for this article:. For some reason, people like reading lists! And a direct, rhetorical question in the first paragraph to make readers want to find out the answer.

Article contributed by Nicola Prentis who is a teacher and materials writer, based in Madrid and London. Home Terms of Use.

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Rule #1 for writing a good article: minimize your barrier to entry. Make it easy for your reader to be drawn in. A large opening paragraph at the start of an article is a huge barrier to entry. It is suggested that if you plan to write articles for an encyclopedia, you have some background knowledge in formal writing as well as about the topic at hand. A composition class in your high school or college is recommended before you start writing encyclopedia articles.