Articles refer to written pieces for a periodical of some kind. Usually an article is a stand-alone section of a larger written work. These nonfictional prose compositions appear in magazines, newspapers, academic journals, the internet, or any other type of publication.
Types of articles
Articles can be divided into two main categories: news and features. Straight news stories deal with the timeliness and immediacy of breaking news, while feature articles are news stories that deal with human interest topics.
A news article is an article published in a print or Internet news medium such as a newspaper, newsletter, news magazine, or news-oriented website that discusses current or recent news of either general interest (i.e. daily newspapers) or on a specific topic (i.e. political or trade news magazines, club newsletters, or technology news websites).
A news article can include accounts of eyewitnesses to the happening event. It can contain photographs, accounts, statistics, graphs, recollections, interviews, polls, debates on the topic, etc. Headlines can be used to focus the reader’s attention on a particular (or main) part of the article. The writer can also give facts and detailed information following answers to general questions like who, what, when, where, why and how. Quoting references can also be helpful. References to people can also be made through written accounts of interviews and debates confirming the factuality of the writer’s information and the reliability of his source. The writer can use redirections to ensure that the reader keeps reading the article and also draws his attention to other articles. For example: - phrases like “continued on page x …” redirects the reader to page number x where the article is continued. Conclusions also are very important ingredients for newspaper articles.
Feature articles are nonfiction articles that intend to inform, teach, or amuse the reader on a topic. The topic centers around human interests. Feature stories may include conventions found in fiction such as dialogue, plot and character. A feature article is an umbrella term that includes many literary structures: personality sketches, essays, how-to's, interviews and many others. The following are examples of feature articles:
- Column — A short newspaper or magazine piece that deals specifically with a particular field of interest, or broadly with an issue or circumstance of far-reaching scope. They appear with bylines on a regular basis (daily, weekly, etc.). They may be written exclusively for one newspaper or magazine; they may be marketed by a syndicate, or they may be self-syndicated by the author.
- Essay — A short, literary, nonfiction composition (usually prose) in which a writer develops a theme or expresses an idea.
- Evergreen — A timeless article that editors can hold for months and publish when needed. They need little or no updating.
- Exposè — These articles use in-depth reporting with heavy research and documentation. Used to expose corruption in business, politics or celebrities. Also called the investigative article.
- Filler — Short non-fiction items, usually just under 300 words used to fill in space on a page of a magazine or newspaper page.
- How-to — How-to articles help people to learn how to do something. They provide step-by-step information for the reader.
- Human interest story — An article that involves local people and events and can be sold to daily and some weekly newspapers. Human interest elements, such as anecdotes or accounts of personal experiences, can support ideas in magazine articles as firmly as facts or statistics. Also called "true-life" stories.
- Interview —This feature story type article includes the text of the conversation between two or more people, normally directed by the interviewer. Interviews are often edited for clarity. One common variation is the roundtable--the text of a less organized discussion, usually between three or more people.
- Op-Ed — Articles that run opposite the editorial page. They are a response to current editorials and topical subjects. Political op-eds are the most common, but they don't have to be limited to politics. They must, however, reflect items that are current and newsworthy.
- Personal experience — An article in which the writer recounts an ordeal, process, or event he has undergone.
- Personality Profile — A personal or professional portrait--sometimes both-- of a particular individual.
- Seasonal — An article written about a holiday, season of the year, or timely observance. This kind of article must be submitted months in advance of the anticipated publication date.
- Service Article — An article about a consumer product or service; it outlines the characteristics of several of the same type of commodity. The aim is to help the consumer make the best selection possible.
- Sidebar — A short feature that accompanies a news story or magazine article. It elaborates on human interest aspects of the story, explains one important facet of the story in more depth, or provides additional factual information--such as a list of names and addresses--that would read awkwardly in the body of the article. Can be found in a box, separated from the main article on the side or bottom of the page.
- Travel literature — Travel articles inform and enlighten the reader through facts about a region's landscape, scenery, people, customs, and atmostphere.
Other types of articles
- Academic — An academic article is an academic paper published in a journal. An academic's status is usually dependent on how many articles they have had published, and also the number of times their articles are cited by other articles.
- Blog — Some styles of blogging are more like articles. Other styles are written more like entries in a personal journal.
- Encyclopedia — In an encyclopedia or other reference work, an article is a primary division of content.
- Marketing — An often thin piece of content which is designed to draw the reader to a commercial website.
- Usenet — Usenet articles are e-mail like messages posted to share Usenet newsgroup.
Elements of an article
A headline is text at the top of a newspaper article, indicating the nature of the article below it. The headline of the article catches the attention of the reader and relates well to the topic.
The lead (sometimes spelled lede) sentence captures the attention of the reader and sums up the focus of the story. The lead also establishes the subject, sets the tone, and guides the reader into the article.
In a news story, the introductory paragraph tells the most important facts and answers the questions: who, what, where, when, why, and how. In a feature story, the author may choose to open with any number of ways including the following:
- shocking or startling statement
- a generalization
- pure information
- a quote
- a question
- a comparison
Body of news story
- For the news story, details and elaboration are evident in the body of the news story and flow smoothly from the lead.
- Quotes are used to add interest and support to the story.
- The inverted pyramid is used with most news stories.
Body of feature article
Feature articles follow a format appropriate for its type. Structures for these types of articles may include, but are not limited to:
- chronological — the article may be a narrative of some sort.
- cause and effect — the reasons and results of an event or process is examined.
- classification — items in an article are grouped to help aid understanding
- compare and contrast— two or more items are examined side-by-side to see their similarities and differences
- list — A simple item-by-item run-down of pieces of information.
- question and answer —such as an interview with a celebrity or expert.
One difference between a news story and a feature article is the conclusion. Endings for hard news article occur when all of the information has been presented according to the inverted pyramid form. By contrast, the feature article needs more definite closure. The conclusions for these articles may include, but are not limited to:
- a final quote
- a descriptive scene
- a play on the title or lead
- a summary statement
Characteristics of well-written articles
- The piece is a factual account of a newsworthy event.
- The writer is objective and shows all sides to an issue.
- The sources for this news story are identified and are reliable.
- Show, don't tell.
Publications obtain articles in a few different ways:
- staff written — an article may be written by a person on the staff of the publication.
- assigned — a freelance writer may be asked to write an article on a specific topic.
- unsolicited — a publication may be open to receiving article manuscripts from freelance writers.
- How to Write Articles for Newspapers and Magazines ISBN 076891089X
- The Complete Guide to Magazine Article Writing ISBN 0898795478
- Writing A to Z ISBN 0898795567
- How to Write Fillers and Short Features That Sell ISBN 0060104929
- Writing for Magazines: A Beginner's Guide ISBN 0844259616
- Writing A to Z ISBN 0898795567
- The Magazine Article: How to Think It, Plan It, Write It ISBN 0898794501