Writing an Article

articleArticles are generally defined as short pieces of writing of a non-fiction nature. They are used widely in journalism, creative writing, publishing, and online.

When being asked to write an article, a writer should keep in mind certain information: the subject, the topic, the required length, and the audience or target market of readers. Then, there is the all-important aspect of what the article’s use or intention is.

Articles are used to sell, to persuade, to inform, to furnish details, and to entertain. The tone of an article can be casual, academic, or technical.

Steps for Writing an Article

  1. Make sure you know the purpose or use for the article.
  2. Gather all information you want to present in one folder.
  3. Assemble as much material as you can on the topic or subject.
  4. Take notes and consolidate them thoroughly to facilitate organization.
  5. Start a point list to cover subject, topic, length, market, and intention.
  6. Check the legalities and ethical issues related to the topic.
  7. Draft brief paragraphs to highlight a set of relevant points.
  8. Write an introductory paragraph last in order to encapsulate the topic and rationale properly.

Key Points to Consider

  • Tone and narrative must match the ones in use by the magazine, newspaper, or website which will publish the article.
  • Before writing an article for a specific destination such as a newspaper insert or supplement, university journal, topical magazine, scholarly publication, or technical website, make yourself familiar with the kind of articles already published by that periodical.
  • Check that your subject and topic are compatible with the usual ones carried by the publication.
  • When you start to research, your notes must be as accurate and straightforward as possible.
  • Tone and expression depend to a great extent on the use for the information. A how-to article is different from a biographical article or a tribute, for example.
  • All language conventions you use must be impeccable and must present your image as an article writer of the highest standard.
  • While making notes and formulating the article, you might also have to find visual material such as photographs, charts and other graphic material to illustrate the text.
  • Commonly, websites that commission articles require the text to be search engine optimized (SEO). This means the keywords used must comply with the image and requirements of the commissioner.
  • Organize all resources, and avoid misperceptions and mistakes. Attention to detail is everything, especially spelling names correctly. A list of keywords must be compiled or sourced.
  • Open a word processing folder for any notes you might need to write. These files can be easily re-worked into some of the drafting for the main writing later.

Points to Include in an Article

Writing an article compatible with a brief, a topic, or a host site or magazine means you must do some research. Make absolutely sure that:

  • You do not exceed or fall short of the required length
  • The topic and subject are narrowly focused
  • Your researched material is up to date and current
  • You check whether the article is to be casual, academic or technical
  • Depending on this, make sure it is entertaining, scholarly or informative

Do and Don’t

Do

  • Do spend some time understanding the point of what you are about to write. All articles have a purpose and you must keep it in mind.
  • Do make lists. No article writer can work without a relevant list of keywords, topics, and relevant points.
  • Do use an appropriate tone. It must match two criteria: the rest of the content of the magazine, journal, or website, and the content of the article itself, whether technical, scholarly, or entertaining.
  • Do write several drafts of each paragraph.
  • Do compare your first draft copy with other material from previous issues of the journal or website. If there are differences, they can be corrected in subsequent drafts.
Don’t

  • Don’t submit the first version of any article you write. Make several attempts to provide the best language and content possible.
  • Don’t leave it too late to learn how to write an article that is appropriate for the target market indicated to you by the person who has commissioned or assigned the article.
  • Don’t try to write from memory – all research and references need to be verifiable.
  • Don’t try to re-hash someone else’s ideas. Although ideas cannot be copyrighted, the individual who commissioned you to write an article expects original material, every time.

Common Mistakes

- One of the most frequent mistakes found in an article is a tone that clashes with the periodical or site. Humor, technical level, scholarly attitude, and formality of voice must all be checked prior to submission. Everything should match.

- Lack of specific detail is often found.

- It is a mistake to write an article that has a correct topic or tone, but has content that does not meet the standards of the rest of the periodical or site. If all other articles in the issue are detailed, scholarly and serious, then yours must be so too.

- Hasty or unprepared writing is the sign of a writer who either does not care, or has neglected to set aside enough time for writing the article. It is a serious error not to draft and rewrite properly.

- Inclusion of misleading or incorrect material. To omit parts of the article that are essential or relevant, or to include text which has little to do with the intended use of the article, might disgrace your submission.

- Lack of aptness or poor language skills. Avoid inappropriate or irrelevant vocabulary, and syntactical weakness. Article writers often use an inappropriate tone, incorrect punctuation, faulty grammar, and commit search engine optimization (SEO) mistakes.

Now that you have acquainted yourself with the basic article writing tips and rules, you can check out our article samples to link theory with practice.

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Samples for Writing an Article

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