How to Write an Article – A Definitive Guide

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There are so many different article types, such as features, news stories, and informational articles. Each one is unique in its style, but they all share the same characteristics as the other articles.

Whether you’re researching and forming the ideas or writing content and editing it, you have an opportunity to share information with your readers.

Before you jump in and write an article, it’s important to have the right writing skills for the job. Good content doesn’t just jump onto the page. You need to do plenty of research. Most people don’t like the idea of hiring a freelance writer to write articles for them. If that’s where you are, don’t fear.

You can still produce a good article, and this step-by-step guide can help:

Form the Idea

Before you write the article, you need to have your ideas in place. This could be the different topics to talk about or a specific keyword you like.

The ideas you produce now are there to help you when you start writing. Here’s how to form your idea:

Figure out What Article Type You Want to Write

As you think about the focus and topic of your article, you should consider the article type that best suits what you want to say. A good idea here is to check out other articles as your starting point.

Ultimately, a good article can be about anything, but you must do your research first. Know what the target audience needs to know and then write about that.

As writers, you must come up with the ideas that the reader wants to learn. From there, you can become a pro at writing articles. There are different styles, such as:

  • Profile
  • How-to
  • Editorial
  • Feature
  • News

You can learn more about them later.

Brainstorm the Topic/Ideas

Now, you should make a list of your ideas and potential topics. You might want to write about organic food or immigration in your article. To write a concise and coherent article, it’s important to narrow down your topic. That way, you’ve got specific ideas and can gather the main points.

Writing doesn’t mean slapping words on paper or in a document. You should spend about a half-hour focused on the topic for your article. Use bullet points to keep everything organized so that you can write an article effortlessly later.

For example, you should ask yourself these questions:

  • What is interesting about the topic?
  • What one point do people usually overlook?
  • What information do people need to know about this topic?

Let’s say you want to craft content about organic farming. You might wish to look up organic labels and what they mean on the packages.

Choose Something That You’re Passionate About

Before you begin writing an article, you should make sure you know a lot about it and can write confidently on the subject. In a sense, writers who care about their topic usually write better. With that, the enthusiasm shows through the article and is more engaging to readers.

Gather the ideas you’ve listed already and find something interesting for you. Then, think about the ideas you’re most passionate about.

The goal is to have so much passion in the article that the readers feel that they should care just as much as you.

Conduct the Preliminary Research

If you’re not familiar with the topic, you can still produce a good article. Many times, you must write about a particular topic as homework or as a professional. This means conducting research on the topic.

Writing articles can be a challenge, especially if you don’t understand the topic or it doesn’t excite you. To start the research:

  • Enter keywords into a search engine. That way, you find various sources and article approaches to take. Use those words to find the main points of the article.
  • Read about the topic so that you can get the sources you need to write about it. Don’t be afraid to use bullet points to keep the information concise and organized. Whether you choose to go to a library or search online, make sure you look at various resources.

Focus on a Unique Angle

When you know the topic for your article and narrow down those ideas into something concrete, you should consider making it stand apart from the crowd. If you’re writing an article on a topic that others have done before, try to find a unique approach so that the target audience flocks to your article instead of another.

Your ideas should add to that conversation instead of just existing along with it.

For example, if you were writing about organic food, you could focus primarily on a grocery shopper who doesn’t grasp the labeling. Use that idea and story to lead into the argument or the point you try to make.

Remember, writing articles means being consistent and knowing why the readers need to have that information.

Hone the Argument

Most articles have the writer making an argument. This is ultimately the thrust of the article. From there, the person finds more evidence to support their points. To create a quality article, you must have a good argument. Once you’ve chosen your angle, you can zero in on it and write something compelling.

For example, you’re writing about how someone learns to read those organic labels, but the focus is that the public must be aware that companies can misuse the terms on them. That ultimately leads to dishonesty in advertising.

Try to narrow down the argument to one sentence. Later, you can write more about it, but for now, you just want to know what you’re trying to say. If necessary, write it in ink on a piece of paper and tape it to the writing area. That way, you stay focused as you begin the process of writing.

Research for Article Writing

A good article requires plenty of research. Most writers stick with what they know, which makes this part a little easier. However, writing articles with incorrect information can get you blacklisted and ranked lower in Google. Here’s how to gather evidence for your article:

Learn about the Topic and Figure out the Argument

Start researching the argument and topic for your article. Go behind the initial research you did earlier. Learn what the fundamental issues are, the pros/cons, what others say, and all the rest.

Writers need to have a “document” state of mind. They look for original or unpublished documents as well as secondary sources.

When you write articles, you must do the same. The primary sources include:

  • Lawsuit filings
  • Legislative hearings
  • Discharge certificates
  • Photos
  • Property indexes
  • Government-written records
  • Insurance policies
  • Personal background reports
  • Corporate financial reports
  • Etc.

Secondary sources can include bibliographies, reference books, dissertations, books, and online content.

Gather Supporting Evidence

As writers, you must identify the ways that you can support the argument. Articles without any evidence are often considered fluff pieces or “fake news.”

Get about three to five examples that support the argument. If necessary, use bullet points to convey the information concisely.

You can’t write an article if you don’t do the research. If you do, you’re likely to find that no one reads the article or that it is buried in the SERPs pages of Google.

Writing is an art form, and your article must show exactly why you’ve produced it. Make as many examples and evidence lists as you need. That way, you have many to choose from and can prioritize them later.

Use Reliable Sources Where Possible

When writing your article, make sure you understand the difference between reliable and unreliable sources. Online research is easy to do, but Google can make mistakes. Therefore, it might show you something that looks excellent, but the information is wrong, or the article doesn’t make sense.

Try to use reputable sources, such as newspapers, Wikipedia, and niche blogs that pertain to the topic you want to write about. If you can find an article that lists other resources, this can help you back up the claims your source made.

Don’t just assume that one source has everything. You need unrelated sources so that you get the full picture.

Keep Track of Everything

Write everything down about the information and sources you find in your research. That way, you can cite them. If you pull ideas from them, it’s important to list them. Otherwise, it could be considered plagiarism.

With your article ideas in mind, create a page full of bullet points that lists the article title, author’s name, the year it was printed, publication title, publisher, and the page number. Some of that information isn’t relevant, especially when using online sources. Just do the best you can so that the writing is easier and more natural later.

Don’t Plagiarize When Writing Articles

As you’re looking through other sources, make sure you’re careful about how to gather the information. Some people like to copy full pages of text into a document to use for notes in the article. That’s okay to do, but you must ensure that the copied information doesn’t get mixed up with your written work.

Writers have to be careful not to plagiarize. It makes you look bad because you appear to have no ethics. You’re stealing from others and pushing the ideas as your own. You could get discredited and be blacklisted by your community.

Outline the Idea

The first step when you write articles is to outline your idea. Writing this way ensures that you are cohesive and that the thoughts you want to convey are fluid and natural. A good article always uses an outline, even if you do it in your head or within the document software you use.

Article’s Length

The word count is important for your articles. Most people think that it has to be very long or quite short. Generally, a low word count doesn’t generate as much traffic as a longer article.

However, you should think about your writing style instead of how far down the page you get or the word count. Consider the content you want to produce and how much space it should fill. Then, focus on how much should be written to cover the topic correctly and adequately.

Consider the Target Audience

The target audience is the people who want to read the article. You must take into account their reading levels, expectations, and interests.

For example, if you’re writing an article about organic labels, the target audience includes anyone who wants to eat healthier or know where their food comes from.

Often, the readers dictating the writing style for the article. If you write articles that the audience doesn’t care about, you’re not likely to see traffic or get leads for your website or company.

Create an Outline

Most freelance writers craft an outline of the article before they formally write it. This outline breaks down the information so that you know where it goes. It could take anywhere from a half-hour to a few hours, depending on the topic and other considerations. Consider it a guide to help you determine where more information is needed within the article.

There are many ways to create an outline for articles. The five-paragraph outline works well because there is one paragraph for the introduction, one paragraph for the closing, and three paragraphs for the supporting evidence.

As you put more information on the page of the outline, this structure may not be ideal. Therefore, you could list all the key points with bullet points. That way, each of the bullet points you write is one idea. For example, you could list the sneaky chemicals found in some organic food labels, include a section about each part of the label, and so on.

Choose Evidence and Quotes to Support the Point

Every article doesn’t require quotes from famous people. However, most people find information that firmly supports what they’re saying. This could include a sentence from another article or a statement someone made. Choose the most important part (most descriptive) to use in your piece.

Just make sure that you attribute the quote to the person with quotation marks around things you didn’t actually write yourself. That way, the reader knows the difference.

For example, you could write: A spokeswoman at Milky Dairy says, “The milk we produce is organic because the cows only eat organic grass.” Someone actually said that phrase, so you must quote it appropriately.

Don’t go overboard on quotes if you choose to use them. Be selective. That way, your readers don’t get confused or feel that it’s a filler article with no real substance.

Writing an Article

As you start writing the rough draft of your article, it’s important to know all the steps to take. Professionals do this automatically without thinking about it. However, if this is your first article, it’s crucial to understand how the process works:

Write an Introduction

The introduction of your first draft is the first paragraph and is crucial to hook the reader. It can sometimes be more than one paragraph, but the first sentence of the article must be powerful to hold the target audience in place.

Most articles tell a brief story, which helps the reader connect with you and what you’re trying to say. Other methods of introductory writing can include:

  • Quoting an interview subject
  • Using statistics
  • Providing straight facts
  • Telling an anecdote

Follow the Outline You Already Created

You’ve drafted the article in your outline, so now you can focus on writing something coherent and solid. The outline provides the major points and can help you understand how the details connect to one another. You’re also reminded of the quotes you picked to make your point.

However, when writing, make sure you’re flexible with the outline. As you begin, the flow could make better sense if you stray a little from the outline. The direction of the piece can change to read better, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

Consider Context

Don’t automatically assume that the reader knows about the article topic as you do. What background information do they need to understand what you’re saying? Depending on the type of articles you’re writing, you might have the first paragraph be the background information. Then, the supporting information can come in the next paragraph. Some people might like to weave the contextual info into the article as they write it.

Be Descriptive

Use descriptive language to help the readers get a picture of what you’re writing. As you write the first paragraph of the article, what words can you use to convey your message and make it more powerful? They should help the reader understand, visualize, and describe what you’re talking about. Adjectives are the go-to option, but there are many others.

When you incorporate them into your articles, people get a feeling of what they should do or how they should feel. Your target audience should be compelled to do something (take action) by the last paragraph, and descriptive wording can help you achieve your goal.

Include Transitional Phrases

As you write and try to convey the point of the article, you should use transitional phrases periodically. These words include:

  • However
  • Remember
  • Therefore
  • Thus

Each separate idea should be its own paragraph, and within that paragraph, you should use those transitional phrases, so the article reads as a cohesive piece. Some people feel that you should start all paragraphs with a transition, but this could make your writing appear as fluff or too wordy.

If you’re comparing things that are different, the word “however” works well. When you’re trying to bring home a point, “remember” can work well.

Focus on Voice, Structure, and Style

You should write with a structure, style, and voice that makes sense for the article type you’re crafting. Evaluate the target audience and decide what method is best to present them with the information they need.

For instance, a newspaper article usually uses a chronological and narrative format. It’s written with straightforward and accessible language. On the other hand, an academic article is written in formal language, and how-to articles are informal.

When writing, it’s better to vary the length of the sentences and only have three to four in each paragraph. The reader is likely consuming your content on a smart device, so you want plenty of white space. A short paragraph is easier to read than a long one.

With that, the sentence length matters. The reader could become bored if they’re all the same. Have short and long ones (without having run-on sentences) to keep everyone engaged.

Write the Conclusion with a CTA

Articles should always have a conclusion, even if you don’t mark it like that. In your first draft, make sure that the article’s content is conveyed well. Then, tie everything together by summarizing the main points of the article.

You should also ensure that there’s no more detail about specific points or that you haven’t introduced new ideas here.

Freelance writers know that this part of the page should empower the reader and make them take action based on the information you convey. The point of this section is to tell the reader exactly what you want them to do now.

As you write articles more often, you get better at the call-to-action. You can give them more information through other blog posts or make it a point to ask the readers to sign up for your newsletter.

Generally, when writing an opinion piece, you want them to go in search of other information. That thirst for knowledge starts with you and can continue for many years.

Try to keep it to a paragraph or two at a minimum. However, you should also go back to the intro to see how long it was. Keep them relatively the same length for maximum readability.

Add Supplemental Materials

You should help the reader understand the topic more by including supplemental material like graphics. Photographs, infographics, and charts can bring home the major points.

Good writing isn’t just about crafting an article that reads well. You need more than words to tell a story, and a picture is a good way to do that.

For instance, if you are talking about a city’s film festival, you could include write-ups that highlight the films. These write-ups are often short (up to 75 words).

These things are just supplemental to bring home a point. The articles should stand on their own and be understandable without the use of charts or graphics. Still, readers tend to like visuals, so it doesn’t hurt to add them.

Finalizing the Process

You’re done writing the article, but you’re not finished. Now, you must finalize your work so that it can be published. To do that, you should:

Edit and Proofread

Most writers make common mistakes while they type. You’re in a hurry to get the information down, and you’re not worried about spelling mistakes in the rough draft of the article. This is normal.

However, now you have to go back and find those common mistakes. It’s all part of good writing.

Often, people like to edit at the same time as they write the article. There’s no issue with that, but you should still go back through what you’ve written to make sure that the information is easy to digest by the readers.

Make it a point to go through each paragraph and make sure it is needed in the article. Some articles have way too much information without actually saying much. Cut what you can from each paragraph to make the data more succinct.

Here are a few pointers:

  • Look at your central argument. Does the information in the article serve that point? Do you have unrelated paragraphs? Eliminate or reframe them to support your message.
  • Take out any contradictory information. If you can’t, address them and show how that data is also relevant to the reader.
  • Rewrite sections as needed. These revisions are common for every article type, so don’t feel incompetent or that you’ve failed.

Read It Aloud

The article’s content is the most important aspect. To have quality content, it must read well. Others should be able to get the information needed and move on (or take action). Therefore, go back to the first page of the article you’ve been writing and read it out loud.

Listen for rhythm, tone, coherence, sentence length, content/grammatical errors, and other issues. Often, you can hear when something doesn’t flow right and can make the necessary changes.

Ask Someone Else to Read It

Now that you’ve read the article’s content yourself, consider asking someone else to read it. This could be a colleague, friend, or teacher. Do they fully understand the points you’re making with your writing? That reader is looking at the article with fresh eyes, so they could catch errors you didn’t.

Write a Headline

Now, you should focus on the article title. The headline should be to the point and short, so it’s about 10 words or so. Google often truncates anything over 60 characters, so keep that in mind as well.

You may also craft the article title before writing the content. If that’s the case, go back to it and make sure that it conveys your message. It should be eye-catching and flow into the first sentence.

Readers prefer headlines that are action-oriented so that they immediately know why the story is important. You write the content based on the headline, so it should grab the audience and draw them in so that they want to read the whole thing.

Publish

Your rough draft is done, and you’ve completed the article. However, you’re not finished. Yes, the writing part is over, but you must publish it on your website or blog. You can also add links to it from other content or social media posts so that you get the word out about it.

Once it’s out there for the public, search engines crawl it and index it. Make sure you have alt-tags for the images and have a succinct headline.

You’ve strategically placed the keywords throughout the piece, which tells the search engines what they need to know.

Types of Articles

You know how to write an article, and writing is likely to become easier with time. However, before you get too involved with a particular style, you should understand the different types of articles you could write. That way, you can vary the pieces of content on your blog and wow your readers.

News Articles

A news article could be on a digital medium or in an actual newspaper. You need to be updated on current affairs and trends within your industry. They are often about recent events or something that might happen in the future.

Though you can tell a story through writing, you’re focused more on details while you create an impact and use emotional elements to humanize everything. The goal here is to ensure that the readers relate to it.

Feature Articles

A feature article is more descriptive and creative than a news article. They are often longer, too. You can find them in blogs and across the internet. In a sense, you’re writing about a single issue in-depth and have a specific angle for it. Usually, they involve humans and provide plenty of information.

Editorial Articles

An editorial article is usually considered an opinion blog about a current topic, trending idea, or event. It influences the readers; as you’re writing it, you bring in your perspective and argue your case or point to raise awareness.

Profile Articles

A profile article focuses on all the information about one person. It’s non-fiction, and many company owners like this style of writing for talking about the business, the founders, and even the employees.

How-to Article

A how-to article can be about anything. You’re explaining what to do for a particular subject or theme. Most people start off writing these articles because they’re easy. In fact, this guide is a how-to article!

Styles to Consider When You Write Articles

When writing, you may not realize there are many styles to consider. In fact, there are four, and each one has its own merits. Therefore, as you write the article, you might think about the style you want to use to ensure that the reader does what you want.

Expository Article

Expository writing means that you’re describing or explaining something. Typically, this is a common style for an article to define the subject. It’s often the main hub article with others to talk about the different ideals.

For example, if you want to talk about organic labeling, the main topic could be organic food. From there, you can write about different things related to that.

Examples of this writing style include:

  • Scientific
  • Business
  • Technical
  • How-to
  • Cookbooks
  • Textbooks
  • Self-help
  • Manuals

Your goal is to inform readers, and this option is often longer than other styles. You can still include stories and anecdotes, but the primary thing here is to use links, charts, citations, and facts.

Descriptive Article

Descriptive writing can take an expository style and goes a bit further. The expository just includes the instructions and bare facts, but a descriptive article uses other elements to evoke all the senses.

You can use adjectives, metaphors, details, adverbs, and images to activate the senses. Plus, you can still include plenty of information.

Examples can include:

  • Personal journals
  • Poetry
  • Nature writing
  • Screenplays
  • Travelogues
  • Much more

Narrative Article

Narrative writing is just storytelling, but it has a full plot. It can be paired with descriptive writing, too. Many people like this style because it’s versatile and focuses more on the plot instead of facts or descriptions. Usually, this type of article is a short story, but it could be a memoir or a historical account.

Persuasive Article

Persuasive writing is what many writers do without thinking about it. Your goal is to influence the reader, so you give your opinion within the article, such as reasons and justifications to support your view and tell others why they should listen to you.

Examples can include:

  • Sales copy
  • Advertising copy
  • Academic papers
  • Political speeches
  • Business proposals
  • Brochures

Great Tips for Writing

You can craft a great article with the guide above. However, you could also take your writing to a new level. If your goal is to write multiple articles or make a living from it (or promote your company), these great tips can help:

Write Everyday

Sometimes, it can be hard to write every single day. However, you want to keep the ideas and content flowing, even if you don’t necessarily need it yet.

You don’t necessarily have to be writing an article every day. Still, you should work on one or put something on paper/in a document each day. Strive for writing 500 words each day and then proofread/edit it. That way, you are ready to take on bigger pieces as time goes on.

Writer’s block isn’t necessarily a real thing. However, when you’ve got so much time on your hands and aren’t focused on content, you run the risk of “forgetting” to write. To become good or better, you have to start and continue with it.

Set Small Goals

Small goals are more achievable, and as you complete them, you are motivated to do more. One step at a time is crucial when writing. As a beginner, you should set small goals, such as writing 500 words and proofreading the article each day. From there, you can increase things gradually to become an excellent writer.

Write Everything Down

You don’t have to type everything into a document. Write freeform in a journal every day. It doesn’t always have to be an article you’re writing. As long as something is coming from your mind, you can go from there and do just about anything.

Before you begin a project, you should be thorough and write everything down, as well. Note the relevant information that you can elaborate on more when you start the piece.

Many writers carry a notepad with them to jot information down as it comes to them. You can also use it to ask questions or remind yourself to look something up. That way, regardless of where you are, you don’t lose sight of an idea.

Remove Distractions

Article writing isn’t easy, even for professionals. Therefore, if you find yourself getting sidetracked, you should remove all distractions and have a calm, quiet zone in which to brainstorm and write. That way, your thought processes can flow with no interruptions.

Even if you live alone or are tucked away in a corner office, you should still shut off your smartphone and concentrate on what you’re doing.

Create a Routine

Most people don’t call writing fun, but you know that you need to craft an article that makes sense and sounds good. Many writers find it more fun to write when they have a routine set up.

This includes when you wake up when you start working, and how you take breaks during the day.

Have a Content Calendar

Professional content creators always have a content calendar to show them what to write next and when to publish it.

Article writing shouldn’t begin whenever you feel like it. Use your calendar to tell you what to write about and when it should be completed or published. That way, you’re always ready to post something new and interesting.

Conclusion

Good content is hard to come by. Many people don’t feel that they can be writers themselves and must hire content creators to do the work. If that’s the case, that’s fine.

You don’t need good article writing skills if you plan to hire others to do the work for you. However, writing content isn’t as difficult as you might think. In fact, you might get a lot of satisfaction if you write articles for your own blog.

Readers are sure to appreciate that you took the time to produce a great article.

You’ve now learned how to write an article with this step-by-step guide. It contains some great tips and can help you craft content that people want to read. Then, with your next article, you can get even better. Start writing today!

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