Whether you want to write about news, an opinion piece, or a film review, there are some key things you need to ensure you do to make sure your article is up to standard:
Look for reputable sources
Despite Wikipedia being a convenient source of information, it is not always the best option for information as it can be manipulated easily by foreign users. One does not know the prominence of most information on the internet so you need to be as careful as possible when selecting your sources and content. Try researching not only the information you want to include in the article but also the leading researchers, writers, or any relevant person involved with your topic of interest. Look at their work, cite them directly, or paraphrase them to ensure your information is as reliable as possible. If you do find relevant information on Wikipedia, make sure to check the footnotes and investigate the links at the bottom of the pages to further increase your knowledge of the desired topic. Doing this increases your reputation as a journalist and demonstrates passion and dedication for your work.
Be on the editor's good side
When working for a company as a writer it is likely you will have to send your work to an editor who will fact-check and correct your work as well as ensure you are following company policy when it comes to formatting. However, you do not want to be on an editor's bad side by sending them work you have not read through yourself and has obvious spelling and grammar mistakes. This shows a lack of interest in your own work and puts added pressure on the editor who is probably not only in charge of correcting and fact-checking your work. By checking your work before you send it, including hyperlinks to the articles you have used so the editor can fact check them, and ensuring your spelling and grammar are up to standard to the best of your ability, you will fall into the editor's good graces and appreciate your consideration of their time. It has to be said that an editor's job is not to solve a writer's every problem with their work; they should work together to ensure the best outcome possible.
Connectives are your best friend
The importance of using connectives is undermined significantly when writing. It is common to want to put all the information on the page as quickly as possible to make sure we have everything we want to say down. However, once this step is done, it is important to go back and make sure everything we have written down makes cohesive sense. It is great to have facts and figures to back our argument up but if the article is a streamline of information with no way of guiding the reader through, it can be tedious and put the reader off. Including words such as 'furthermore', 'in addition', and 'moreover' provide a sense of continuity and is a nice way of breaking up information. It might seem obvious but it is surprising how many people forget to add these as a way of breaking up their writing.
The value of paragraphs
Paragraphs are an author's best friend. They break up information, allow us to organise our thoughts, and bring order to our writing. But we must use them wisely and not abuse their power. We want to avoid incredibly long paragraphs and incredibly short paragraphs. The average paragraph should be around five to eight lines depending on the amount of content. This is specific for articles as large blocks of writing can seem daunting or unappealing to a reader.
Simple is better
When writing for a wide audience as is the case of a newspaper or magazine, the best option is to use accessible, wide-spread language. An excess of niche terminology can be unappealing to an average reader if they are not well-versed in a specific topic. If sector-specific language is unavoidable, offer definitions or explanations as to what they mean. By doing this you ensure to expand the knowledge of the reader and make them feel educated and more willing to read your work. If you are writing for a specific company with a target audience who is expected to know this terminology then this advice does not apply to you, however, do make sure, regardless of the audience, to be concise and clear with your words. Efficiency is everything.
At your place of work, it is likely they will give you a style guide for not just the tone but the font, spacing, maybe length expected for each article, and more specific details a company might want you to follow to maintain the company image. This guide needs to become your holy grail. Follow it as much as possible and if you have any questions, don't hesitate to ask, you might have an idea that will change the style guide and that is also a good thing. In addition, style guides are also useful to follow and learn for future jobs, not just the ones you are doing right now. There are certain things, like font size or numeration that tend to be the same for most companies, meaning if you learn to follow a style guide, this will benefit you in the future and you will likely already know how to write for more than one company. However, you also need to be able to adapt to potential changes that might arise.
Following these tips does not guarantee that you will be the best writer in the world, but they will certainly help with awareness and attention to detail. The writing is all on you so choose a topic you are passionate about or get started on that piece that is overdue and with your writing ability and these tips you are sure to produce a fantastic piece of writing.
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