Writing an article

An example of how to structure and write an effective article

Here are a few places where you might expect to find an article:

  • a magazine
  • a website
  • certain sections of a newspaper (NB an article is different to a news report)

An article is a piece of writing (usually around 800-2000 words) about a particular topic. Sometimes an article will offer a balanced view of a subject. At other times an article might be biased towards a person or political standpoint.

An article might also be flavoured by the writer’s style. Depending on the purpose of your article, you might use very direct informative language or more poetic language to create a sense of the subject matter.

Here are some typical subjects covered by article writers:

  • travel
  • sport
  • history
  • hobbies/home/craft
  • music
  • celebrities/famous figures (eg an article about an actor’s life and career)

Structure

The basic structure of an article for a newspaper, magazine or website, is usually in three parts:

  • opening – engaging the reader, or outlining the main point of the article
  • middle – a series of paragraphs that go into more detail
  • end – a concluding paragraph that draws the points together

Within this structure you could also create a circular structure in which the conclusion connects back to the opening idea.

For example, an article about Kerala in India opens with the writer describing the view from a train. The middle section describes Alappuzha, the place the writer is travelling away from and goes into details about a boat trip they took there. In the concluding paragraph, the writer brings us back to the train and muses on the highlights of his trip.

Language

The language of an article depends upon the purpose and audience. The language of the article will fit the content and the intended readers. For example, an article about a recent film release would include language that deals with actors, scripts and performance and is likely to include the writer’s opinions of the film.

Articles usually have a catchy, memorable headline. This helps to grab the reader’s attention and entice them to read the whole article.

Articles are usually written in Standard English, but colloquial sayings or phrases might be used to emphasise a point. Literary techniques such as metaphor and simile make your writing more interesting and engaging. Persuasive devices, such as rule of three, rhetorical questions and hyperbole can encourage the reader to agree with your point of view.

Example

Here’s an extract from an article that tries to persuade the reader to eat a more balanced, healthy diet:

Eat Right: Live Longer

It has been scientifically proven that the less junk food a person consumes, the longer they are likely to live. So why isn’t everyone dumping the junk? Jordan McIntyre investigates.

Fast food equals fat

A staple part of twenty-first century British home-life is the weekly takeaway treat: finger-licking burgers, sticky ribs and crispy chicken wings are, for many, the normal Friday night feast. The average national calorie count in the UK is a whopping 4500 a day, a key factor in the obesity cases that are soaring. Fast food is packed with fat and obesity contributes to a range of health issues - most significantly heart disease and depression. So why aren’t we changing our lifestyles?

Short on time

Families these days are spending less and less time at home during the working week. School commitments, work meetings and extra curricular activities mean that time is short and fewer people are prepared to put in the effort to prepare fresh, healthy meals.

And when time is tight, it seems we are even more willing to compromise our waistlines for a little bit of what we fancy – fast fatty food.

Eat yourself healthy

However, Georgia Thomas of the University of Food says, ‘I am convinced that it is possible to live a busy lifestyle AND prepare healthy, satisfying meals. It seems that people have simply got out of the habit of cooking. We are busy people; how do we reward ourselves? You guessed it - food.’ Britain clearly needs to shift the stodge, and fast.

The headline grabs the reader's interest and introduces the article. The writer uses parallelism by using two imperative or command phrases 'Eat well' followed by 'live longer'. Alliteration is also used with the repetition of 'l'.

The rhetorical question in the opening paragraph encourages the reader to engage with the topic. The subheadings direct the reader through the text, and act as mini headlines. The writer uses colloquial sayings such as ‘a little bit of what we fancy’ and ‘shift the stodge’ to create a lively, conversational tone.

The final paragraph uses quotations from an expert to add credibility to the argument. You would expect the article to go on to explore how we can eat healthily and to conclude with an explanation of how easy it is to do this.