Writing long form articles and essays isn’t everyone’s cup of tea but they are a way of life for students, presenters, and professionals who deal with communications. Essays can be used to tell a story, persuade an audience on an issue or report on something newsworthy. There are essentially four types of long-form essays, and subtypes exist within each.
What Makes a Good Article?
A good story is about something the audience decides is interesting or important. A better story uses storytelling to make important news interesting. The complication comes because the public is exceptionally diverse in their variety of concerns and interests. So anything can be news, but not everything is newsworthy.
A good story adds value to the topic by becoming “storytelling with a purpose.” Creating a good article means finding important or interesting information, verifying the details, and then presenting it in a way that draws the audience in. Good stories are part of what make journalism different, and more valuable than other content in the media universe.
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Writing a great article demands that you observe the correct structure and construct it in a way that flows well. To accomplish this, it is essential that you conduct research, choose your paragraph subheadings wisely, write at least two body paragraphs and tie things in a nice, neat bow with a conclusion that summarizes and sometimes provides supplemental information. Keep reading to learn this process. Here is a brief summary of the parts of an article that flows well and is properly structured.
Conduct research before you start to draft your essay. Embark on a long-form writing assignment without any thought to the order in which you intend to present material, the final piece will come across as random and unfocused.
Write the introduction
Introduce your readers to the topic. Think of it in terms of how you act when you first meet someone for the first time: you say who you are, shake hands and say something general about yourself. Everything brought up in the introduction must be addressed in the body paragraphs.
Develop paragraph subheadings
Develop paragraph subheadings that give your readers a clue about what they are going to read. Paragraph subheadings should stay relatively short, and when possible, make them witty and engaging.
Build the body paragraphs
Write the body paragraphs—the meat of your article. This is where you can use the detailed information that you gathered during the research phase. Avoid writing exceptionally long paragraphs, as this discourages readers from actually reading what you write. For a good article, you should have at least two body paragraphs with a minimum of two sentences each.
Create flow with smooth transitions
Create flow with smooth transition from one paragraph to the next. Look at the first sentence of each new paragraph and make sure it leads into the next subject. How you do this is entirely a personal decision, but providing a transition from one paragraph to the next greatly increases the readability of your article as well as its overall flow.
Write the conclusion
Close with a brief summary of what you just told readers. Provide information or suggestions for further investigation or include a few additional suggestions your readers can use to learn on their own. Avoid going too far off topic, though, and stay concise. Doing so ensures your well-written article stays that way through the very last word.
Do’s and Don’ts of Article Writing
DO pay attention to your introductory paragraph
Pay the most amount of attention to the introduction paragraph of your essay. The introductory paragraph not only gives the reader an idea of what you will talk about but also shows them how you will talk about it. Put more effort into crafting a compelling and engaging the introduction and you will be rewarded accordingly.
DO NOT use passive voice or I/my
Avoid personal pronouns like I, My, or Me. Try instead to be more general and you will have your reader hooked. Additionally, using active voice, wherein the subjects direct actions rather than let the actions “happen to” them – “he scored a 97%” instead of “he was given a 97%” – is a much more powerful and attention-grabbing way to write.
DO tie things together
Make the first sentence of your body paragraphs work double time to create natural transitions from one paragraph to the next. Not only should it open with a transition that signals the change from one idea to the next but also it should (ideally) also have a common thread which ties all of the body paragraphs together.
DO NOT be too general
Make sure all examples are relevant to the thesis. It can be hard to summarize the full richness of a given example in just a few lines so make them count. Details make all the difference when it comes to drawing the audience into the world you are recreating in the essay.
DO be powerful
Leave plenty of time to invest in the conclusion and use it to leverage all of your research points at once. The conclusion paragraph can be a difficult paragraph to write effectively but, as it is your last chance to leave a lasting impression on the reader. Take this opportunity to restate your thesis with confidence
DO NOT copy the first paragraph
Although you can reuse the same keywords in the conclusion as you did in the introduction, try not to copy whole phrases word for word. Instead, try to use this last paragraph to really show your skills as a writer by being as artful in your rephrasing as possible.
Why Hire a Professional for Writing an Article?
A professional article writer is trained in seeking out answers.
A professional will adhere to ethical standards of journalism, plus they have a knowledge of investigating and verifying information.
Some writers are trained in additional skills such as media law, shorthand, social media or editing.
Writers have the uncanny ability to rapidly sift through a haystack of information to find the important and interesting needles.
To ensure your articles are well written, you must remember the basic tenant of structure: tell readers what you are going to write, write it in the body paragraph and write it again in the conclusion in a summarized fashion. Do the proper research, utilize paragraph subheadings, write relevant and informative body paragraphs and wrap things up nicely with a conclusive paragraph. Through it all, transition well and create a flow that enhances readability. If you follow these guidelines, you are sure to write one great article after another. And when you need to, hire a professional to write excellent essays every time.
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You pay attention to the heading of your article because that is what attracts readers. But don’t neglect subheadings! If you think your article is fine without them, you’re mistaken. According to The Nielsen Norman Group, 79 percent of people who use the internet scan a page before they read it. What will their eyes settle on? You guessed it—subheadings.
Well-written subheadings help the reader understand at a glance what your article is about and what he/she can gain from each paragraph. Added to this, subheadings make your work easier to read because they organize it. Long text is an immediate put-off: we’ve all clicked out of a website due to boring articles that contain masses of black text and no reprieve. Prevent this from happening to your article by making use of eye-catching subheadings.
Here are some tips on how to choose the right ones.
1. Make Them Fun, But Skip the Pun
Funny subheadings that make use of puns or clichés can come across as cheesy to the reader. For instance, calling a section in your dating article It’s Raining Men! might feel like a fun choice, but sometimes writers depend on tools such as puns, phrases, or clichéd sayings when they are not sure of how to describe the paragraph they’ve written in a more succinct, real way.
Prevent this from happening by looking at each paragraph closely and asking yourself:
- What is this paragraph about?
- What is the most important part about this paragraph?
- What do I want the reader to take from this paragraph?
The answers to the above questions can help you settle on a subheading that gives a preview of your paragraph. So, taking the above example of the dating article, a better subheading could be The Best Places to Meet Men. Now the reader knows what to expect and will be interested to continue reading.
2. Cut the Cryptic Words
One of the problems that occurs when people come up with subheadings is that their knee-jerk reaction is to make them creative. This is good because an interesting and original subheading will be successful, however you don’t want to confuse or mislead the reader.
So, let’s imagine you are writing about halitosis and one of your subheadings is Battling Stomatodysodia. Here you have used a medical term for halitosis, which the average reader will not know. Although you might think that this would create interest, remember that your readers want to gain solutions from your text and they don’t want to waste time trying to figure out what you are saying. If they are reading about halitosis, they want to understand more about it, not be further confused.
Subheadings are like doors opening up to rooms of text: you want them to be easy to unlock or else the reader will stop trying to open them.
3. Use Parallel Structure
Parallel structures are word or phrase patterns that are similar in nature. They make it easier for your reader to grasp what you’re trying to say. Subheadings with consistent grammar structure are memorable and eye-catching. Take this example, for instance:
Heading of article:
Tips for Installing Solar Panels at Home
Getting Your Home Ready
Choosing the Right Spot
Figuring Out Your Lateral Tilt
Placing and Securing Mounts
Fastening Mounts to Solar Panels
Connecting Solar Panels to Electrical Supply
In the above examples, you can see that the subheadings are consistent on a grammatical level as they all make use of words ending in -ing. For instance, getting, choosing, figuring, and so on. Other ways to make use of parallel structures in subheadings could include using verbs (for example, evaluate, write, edit) or making use of a question format for each subheading.
4. Make Subheadings Similar Lengths
Although your subheadings could vary in content, they should match in another way to create consistency throughout your article: subheading length! You don’t want some to be very short and others long because this will stand out like a sore thumb to readers. Generally speaking, try not to have subheadings that are too long (aim for no more than five or six words) so that your sentence doesn’t lose effect. Word economy, the art of choosing words without wasting any of them, is an important part of subheadings because every word packs a punch.
Look at this example:
Subheading Example 1:
Fitness Errors and How to Remedy Them
Subheading Example 2:
Fix Your Fitness Errors
You can see that the second subheading is much more gripping than the first one. This is because it is shorter and snappier. The word ‘fix’ is much more powerful than ‘remedy’ and it saves you from using four extra words (‘how to remedy them’).
5. Connect Subheadings to Your Title
When you are stumped for a subheading, try to link it back to your article’s main heading so that you stay on track. For instance, if you are writing an article entitled Easy Ways to Save Money, your subheadings should each list a way in which you can achieve this.
Let’s look at this list of subheadings:
Subheading Example 1:
Cut Back Costs with Credit
Subheading Example 2:
Why Saving is Important
Subheading Example 3:
Open a Savings Account
Subheading Example 4:
Keep a Record of All Expenses
The article heading is telling readers that they can expect money-saving tips. From the subheadings above, the second one—Why Saving is Important—doesn’t fit in with this idea, so it should not be there. If you want to add a bit of background to the article, you could place this in the introduction.
6. Every Subheading is a Step Forward
A final tip when dealing with subheadings is to view them as stepping stones. Each one carries a paragraph or section that builds on the article and moves the reader one step closer to their destination of understanding your topic. By making the subheadings eye-catching and linking them back to the main points of your article, you offer the reader an exciting and safe journey, instead of letting them miss a step into the dark ocean of disorganized text.
About the author:
Giulia Simolo is a freelance journalist who has always been passionate about writing. A regular contributor to various websites and publications, Giulia has garnered a lot of experience as a freelance writer and enjoys sharing this with others who wish to enter the exciting field of journalism. You can follow her on Facebook and Twitter.
Also by Giulia Simolo:
1. When Words Meet Pictures (article)
2. How to Write Riveting Book Reviews (article)
3. How to Write Web Copy that Sells! (article)
4. Writing E-Mails to Editors (article)
5. How to Write the Perfect Article Pitch