How to Write Article in English
The ability to express our thoughts through words is a gift. There are many ways that we can bring out our thoughts, emotions, view points and attitudes through the power of words. Some express it through poetry, some through stories and few others through essays and articles. Articles are literary prose that features in newspapers, magazines and as information on internet sites. Learning to write an article can be a rewarding experience because you are sharing information with a potential audience of thousands or more. If your articles are good enough, you may even be able to make a living as a reporter.
What is An Article?
An article is a story, a report, or simply a point of view on an issue that you feel strongly about. Simply put, it is a brief composition on a subject or a specific topic. An article is the prose written in magazines, newspapers and /or Internet sites. They are concise, to the point and short as compared to essays.
But how do we go about writing one. This article is an attempt to enlighten you on the simple rules that you can adhere to and the mistakes you must take care to avoid, while writing an article.
An article is a discourse, literary work or any other prose work containing particulars, or dealing with various topics; as, an article in the constitution. It could be a set of regulations, treaty, terms and conditions, stipulations in a contract, or a concise statement.
An article is a literary composition forming a part of a magazine, newspaper or encyclopedia.
An article is a stand alone section of a larger piece of non-fiction prose composition.
Types of Articles
We need to understand that there are many types of articles. There are mainly four types of discursive writings. Each of these types has a distinct and easy structure, and once you know what sort of writing you are doing, the rest of the article almost writes itself. The four types of structure are: argument, explanation, definition, and description. So, as you think about writing your first paragraph, ask yourself, what sort of article you are writing. For example, this article that I am writing is of a descriptive nature.
These are your choices of types of articles :
- Argument: convinces someone of something, It lets the reader know your stand on a particular subject. And convinces people to accept one particular conclusion as opposed to someone else’s.
- Explanation: tells why something happened instead of something else. It takes a look at a particular event or situation and then explains the situations that led to the culmination of that event.
- Definition: states what a word or concept means. You can define by many ways. By using only a word, or a phrase, or make a story as an example for the word or action you are trying to describe.
- Description: identifies properties or qualities of things. It provides information about an object, person or a state of affairs and will contain a series of related sentences.
These being the main categories, let us see how they commonly appear in the print media.
As the name suggests filler is a short piece or article, usually around 250 — 300 words which editors of print magazine use to fill space.
The feature article is a general term which covers a large number of types of articles, such as:
News —An in-depth article covering current affairs.
Service Article — An article reviewing a consumer product or service,
How-to Article — How-to articles provide step-by-step advice, guiding the reader about the procedure to follow, anything from cooking recipes, to help with computer programs
Self-Help Article — As the name suggest, these article contain advice for readers on a variety of life situations.
Human Interest or “True Life” — Stories which feature the experiences of real people or real events which hold an interest for the wider audience.
Personality Profile — A profile of a celebrated individual.
Interview — A question and answer with a celebrated individual.
Expose or “Investigative Piece” An article which uncovers previously unknown facts, normally concerning business, politics or celebrities. Eg. Tehelka
Travel Piece — As the name suggests, are reviews of locations and destinations for business or vacation around the world which examines the sights, experiences, and services which can be found.Each of these types has their own style of writing and words that indicate the category that they fall into.
Writing The Article
Now that you have all the building blocks in place, you have to start to write your article. Remember writing an article is like building a wall, if you leave gaping holes in your wall, it will be weak at its best and will fall at the slightest probe. If you have the ideas, you need to have an insight in your subject and facts that support it. You need to write on the assumption that the reader does not know anything about the subject and that your article will enlighten him/her.
When you decide to write an article, it is of foremost importance that your purpose of writing the article should be clear. Without this clarity of purpose, you will not be able to decide on the type it has to fall into to make the article serve its purpose. It helps to briefly put down in a few sentences the points you want to convey before embarking on actual writing.
Once you have identified the category your article falls into, you now need to start with a list of ideas and concepts that you may want to base your article upon. Then you have to start collecting reading/ reference material relevant to your topic. An article has to have depth and information. It has to reflect your own expertise and for your research on the subject that you are writing about.
Then you need to identify your target audience -weather is it for young students, a particular group of professionals, parents, children, housewives, students etc. Your target audience will have a lot of bearing on the type and terminology you will use in your writing.
The next question to ask is: What publication will use this article? The possibilities are end-less: adult, women, men, children, teenagers, or youth. Are they in a specialized occupation such as doctors, engineers or school-teachers? Are they a certain age, school children, students appearing for their board exams, students appearing for competitive exams etc.? The important thing is to be sure to target a specific audience–not simply children or adults in general.
Then you need to decide on the length of the article. Namely, how long or concise it is going to be. In most cases, the institution or publication requesting for your article will specify the length of the article, namely, not to exceed so many words.
It is very important that you stay focused while writing your article. It is very easy to go off in a tangent while writing an article of a descriptive nature. Such that in the end it may seem like you have been rambling, and have failed to get the point across.
Your article has to help the reader understand the rationale behind your work and the reason why you are writing the article. So that it helps the readers understand and appreciate your point of view.
Most publications and newspapers have guidelines on how to write an article that is specific to their target audience. So before you send them your article you need to send them a letter requesting their guidelines and permission. This is termed as the query letter. A query is a single-page letter which sells your story idea. It has a four paragraph formula. The first paragraph is a creative beginning for your article. You don’t write the entire article–only the first paragraph which holds the reader’s interest. The purpose of this first paragraph is simply to capture the editor’s attention. It must be interesting so that it can get the attention of the editor in the first glance.
The second paragraph includes the main points of how you will approach the article. The third paragraph gives information on your personal research and expertise for this topic and your writing credits. It basically answers the question, why should you of all the writers get this assignment? Highlight your own area of expertise in this paragraph.
The final paragraph says how soon you could write the article and says you are enclosing a self-addressed, stamped envelope and looking forward to their reply.
How To Write
Writing to be understood takes more than stating all the facts. It means your prose itself must be clear and uncomplicated. You can explain very complex ideas without having complex text. This does not mean you should play down your vocabulary. It means that you should make sure you’re using words correctly in proper grammatical sentences. If you don’t know what a word means or how to use it, look it up. Your prose should be free of ambiguity. Sentences should not be choppy, but neither should they run on beyond a single idea. Paragraphs should be logical structures and if you must say something in a complicated way that runs to several sentences, try adding a sentence to summarize the idea. In other words, make every effort possible to be clear about each point in the article.
The first paragraph of your article is the most important. The first paragraph is used to ‘animate’ your article, to give it life, meaning and context. Animating paragraphs may express feelings – joy, happiness, sadness, or something similar. They may consist of short stories or examples of what you are trying to describe. Animation may be placed into your essay at any point. But it is generally most effective when introducing a topic, or when concluding a topic.
Simply introduce the topic and explain what you’re going to write about, without using ‘I’ at all. You may wish to begin with a blocked quotation if you have found one that really sums up your focus point well Don’t use one just for the sake of starting that way, though. The introduction gives the reader the essential information right at the beginning. The introduction is the most important part — entice your reader. Use quotations, drama, and emotion, everything to build up an atmosphere.
The Main Body
The main body needs to answer the questions raised in the introduction. So you have to maintain the atmosphere while answering. Don’t just write down the set of facts. Try to relate each paragraph to the next in some fashion. In long articles, you can also use subtopic structures to break up the prose and avoid having to segue between all sections. When you cannot be certain of something you’re stating on your own, be sure to include supporting words and phrases so it cannot be assumed that you are stating absolute facts. If your analysis can be stated as fact, however, do not use ambiguous words, because they will minimize the impact of your analysis.
In your conclusion, follow the same rules as the introduction: don’t patronise, don’t use ‘I,’ and don’t be cheesy. Your conclusion needs to remind the reader about what the article was all about, so use a strong punch line.
Most assignments come with a specific word count in mind: some a minimum, some a maximum, some both. I have found that most articles tend to easily fall within the required word count range naturally. If your article is thoroughly researched, it should be difficult to fall below a word count target. In fact, if your research was very good, you may have more difficulty staying below a maximum word count. You have to find a balance between fitting in the information you deem essential and not making the article sound disjointed and choppy. Too often, students write the same points over and over again, wasting space and making the article boring.
Simple Tips On How To Write A Good Article
- Focus on human interest — the feel and emotion that you put in an article are what make a good read. Don’t think about being too scientific, unless you are writing one.
- Be clear about why you are writing the article — is it to inform, educate, persuade, argue, evaluate or evoke an emotion.
- Write in active voice. In active voice sentences, people do things in the present, as opposed to passive voice sentences where the action happens in the end or things are being done by someone else.
- Accuracy is important. You can embroider and interpret, but you cannot lie.
- Use anecdotes, examples and direct quotes to tell your story. Keep your words short.
- Keep your audience firmly in mind, what are their desires? What would they like to know?
- Be careful of your spellings. Do not rely on the spell check of the computer.
- Avoid lengthy, complex paragraphs. Articles are usually written for newspapers or magazines, where a couple of sentences will constitute a paragraph.
- Avoid cliches and sentimental sentences in the conclusion of your article.
Common Article Writing Mistakes To Avoid:
- Spelling mistakes: the mobile culture has brought to light the changes in spellings. For example, writing “u” instead of “you”. While writing a formal article, you need to spell words accurately and correctly.
- Grammatical mistakes: Many students do not pay attention to the grammatical correctness of their sentences. They use “it’s”, “its”, “your” “you’re” interchangeably, thus changing the meaning of what they want to convey.
- Another grammatical mistake that is commonly seen is the change in voice. “people drink more apple juice” changes to “apple juice is drunk more by people”. The article starts off in active voice and somewhere in between slips into passive voice and then comes back to active voice. Maintain consistency. Reading a text with frequently changing voice is not smooth.
- Punctuation errors: Punctuation like commas, full stops, quotes and apostrophes are important if you want your audience to read your articles easily. For instance, “Capture not, set free” is totally different from “Capture, not set free” just depending on the position of the comma. So take care of your punctuation.
- Long Paragraphs: The attention span of the reader is low. It is rare to find someone who will read your article word for word. So if you want to succeed in getting the reader to read or in the least, scan your article, you must make it easy for him/her by writing short paragraphs and giving a heading to each paragraph. This is especially true of argumentative and descriptive type of articles.
Sample Articles Based On Their Type:
- The How-To, such as “How to make friends and win people” or “How to become a millionaire overnight”… how-to articles simply tell readers how to do something.
- Make a rousing promise of success
- Describe what you need in easy to follow instructions
- Give step-by-step directions
- Include shortcomings or warnings
- Tell how to locate supplies
- Give proofs and promises
- Make referrals to other sources
- The Profile and the Interview, such as “The Real Amitabh” or “Ratan Tata shares his business secrets” Profiles and interview are two different types of feature articles.
Profile & interview articles:
- Have different definitions. In a profile, you use additional sources, such as friends, family, kids, neighbors, colleagues. In a profile, you interview the source himself or herself.
- Can have a theme or focus.
- Can be presented as a “Q & A” or a written article.
- Require strong interviewing skills for the “best” information
- 3. The Informative or Service Article, such as “How to Write Query Letters for Magazines” or “When to plant new plants in your garden”
Informative or service articles:
- Focus on one unique aspect,
- Describe what-to, how-to, when-to, why-to, etc.
- Answer the journalist’s who, what, when, where, why, and how questions
- Can end with a “how-to” piece as a sidebar
- The Expose, such as “Famous plastic surgeon tells all about his celebrity clients” or “95% of Bollywood heroines have been under the knife!”
The expose article:
- Shocks or surprises readers
- Includes statistics, quotes, anecdotes
- Can range from how extension cords can kill to new info on Watergate
- Human Interest, such as “Kiran Bedi shares her ideas on prisoner reform” or “Indira Gandhi’s grandson finds his true calling.” This type of feature article interests the majority of readers of a particular magazine.
Human interest articles:
- Usually start with an anecdote
- Are often chronologically organized
- Essay or Opinion, such as “What I Think of India’s stand on homosexuality” or “Problems due to hectic lifestyles.”
Essay or opinion articles:
- Usually revolve around an important or timely subject (if they’re to be published in a newspaper or “serious” magazine)
- Are harder to sell if you’re an unknown or unpublished writer
- Can be found on blogs all over the interne!
- Humor or Satire, such as “Ode to Bollywood movies” or “What would Gandhi do today”
Humor or satire articles:
- Usually have a specific audience,
- Are usually written on a specification (that is, you submit the whole article before the editors or publishers will accept it)
- The Inspirational Article, such as “How You Can Change the World With Your ideas” or “7 laws of successful people.”
- Describe how to feel good or how to do good things
- Can describe how to feel good about yourself— this type of article can work for anyone from writers to plumbers to pilots
- Offer a moral message
- Focus on the inspirational point
- The Historical Article, such as “First poem of Rabindranath Tagore” or “How medicine flourished in ancient India.”
- Reveal events of interest to millions
- Focus on a single aspect of the subject
- Are organized chronologically
- Tell readers something new
- Go beyond history to make a current connection
- The Round-Up, such as “20 Writing tips from Top Authors” or “1,001 Types of Articles to Write for Magazines.”
Round-up articles: • Gather a collection from many sources
- Focus on one theme
- Offer quotations, opinions, statistics, research studies, anecdotes, recipes, etc.
- Research Shorts, such as “How junk food deteriorates your memory” or “What classical music does to your brain waves.”
- Describe current scientific information
- Are usually less than 250 words long
- Are often written on specifications given by the magazine
- Are fast, effective ways to earn money as a freelance writer
Name of Article :
What Happened :
Quote (and who is quoted) :
Interesting Fact(s) :
You can use this template to start your foray into writing articles for newspapers.
For starters write an article on:
- The first day at school
- The new vacation spot in the state
- The Circus in town
- The public transport strike
- Current medical breakthroughs
To write an editorial for a newspaper pick an issue or problem, and then research the topic before writing your letter. Use moderate language, facts, and strong, logical arguments in your editorial.
Prompts: Headline, Explain the problem, Explain the other side and its weakness, Explain the solution and its strengths, Support your solution with facts, examples, and Restate your position plus your view of the future.