7 Steps to Better Writing - Charles Maxwell 2020
Articles, blogs, and websites
Application – Preparing informative documents
Articles are vital to our lives. We read them to learn the news, to find answers to questions, to solve problems, and to be entertained. They occur as webpages, blogs, e-zines, newsletters, newspapers, magazines, and technical journals. We find them on line, embedded in email, and printed on paper.
Today, if you want to be read, you need not be a prominent author, nor represent a name brand. You need only to write something interesting and place it before likeminded readers. However, writing well will increase your readership and your influence.
Having something to say
Great articles begin with memorable ideas. For your material to standout, it must be:
Readers find articles striking if the pieces solve their problems or address their interests. To be relevant, your material must be useful—even if the only use is to entertain.
Articles need to provide unique information. The ideas need to differ from the knowledge readers already possess.
Your readers want to know that information comes from reliable sources. Therefore, provide proof—share the results of studies, include testimonials, and cite sources.
The information needs to be more than trivial. To have substance, your pieces must address specific problems and provide step-by-step solutions or they should address special interests in a substantial way. To find their way into top-ranking search engine results, articles published on the internet generally should be 2,000-5,000 words.
Select an attention-getting headline
Start with a strong title that both captures readers’ attention and summarizes the article. Typically, the title will include a short main headline and a longer sub-headline.
Match the length of your title to your media and purpose. Research shows the optimum title length for online articles is:
· Business-to-consumer (B2C) articles — 12-18 words
· Business-to-business (B2B) articles — 6-12 words
· Online newspapers — 8 words
Generally, titles of printed newspapers and magazines are shorter, being 3-9 words. With trade journals, some of the most attention-gaining titles are as short as one word, especially when they link to current events or topics with high interest.
Test what works for your situation.
In addition, research on internet articles shows that the first 2-3 words and last 2-3 words in a headline are the most important, because they are the words most often read when quickly scanned.
Write it well
Once you have selected memorable content and a strong headline, use effective writing techniques to present the material. Use words that your readers use to describe the topic. Generally, these words should rank high for search engine optimization (SEO) for your topic.
Provide a strong first paragraph. Grab the readers’ attention. Then, continue to hold that attention through the body of the article. Finally, add a conclusion, enumerate recommendations, and make a call to action.
Make sure that your logic is valid. Safeguard that your document holds together by checking to see that every part contributes to the central message.
Include stories and analogies to strengthen your premise. Add images and media. But add only material that advances your purpose and provides value.
Write in a familiar tone. Use short words, short sentences, and short paragraphs. Strive to achieve a natural flow by adding words and phrases to transition from one idea to the next.
Technical articles require a more formal tone, and they use larger and more complex words, but they still should have a comfortable flow. When writing technical articles, replace categorical writing with analytical writing and use active voice as much as possible.
Make articles visually appealing. Add headers throughout your documents so readers can quickly scan for content. Use bulleted and numbered lists. Use an easy-to-read font. Ensure that images, graphs, and tables are consistently formatted. Provide white space.
Proof the document for missing words, punctuation, spelling, and grammar.