Tuesday, 16 October 2012

How to Write an Article for On-line Publishing

How to Write an Article to be Published On-line


The basic rules of writing an article to be be published on-line are the same as writing an article for anywhere else. Pick you topic, research your topic then write out your article in an orderly fashion. Set the article aside for a while then go back and edit or rework the article where needed.

However, if you are writing for an on-line publication like a blog, an article directory or a website there are some differences that you really need to be aware of. People surfing the web for information tend to skim article content more than when reading printed articles.

This article goes through some of the basic methods to write better on-line articles. Making  more readable for your audience and giving you more views and more revenues as a result.

Best Practices for On-line Articles

People coming to websites looking for content are often looking for something specific. At other times they are just casually 'browsing' to look for something interesting. This means that on-line articles are frequently very quickly scanned for something useful. For your articles to be enjoyed, you need to make them as accessible to rapid skimming as possible. This means that you need to break your on-line articles in readily-read blocks with images, headings and subheadings.

Below are some of the best practices you can use for on-line articles:

Use Pictures to Illustrate your Articles

A picture is worth a thousand words, or so the saying goes. A good picture can be used to illustrate a point without using too many words. Humans are visual animals an it takes much less effort to process a picture (or even a drawing or chart) compared to the same information written out in words.

There are lots of on-line picture libraries for free and paid for content. But the truth is that lots of these look stage and unreal. It is always better if you can provide your own photograph. This is fresh content, it looks fresh, it is unique to you and you own the copyright. It is also something else that you could potentially sell.

All journalism courses tell prospective authors to always carry a camera with them. And, you can consider blogging and article writing as a form of journalism. I write lots of information about wild food and the natural world and whenever I step out of the house I always have a camera on me. It's even easier to do this these days as mobile phones have such good cameras.

When illustrating your articles, it's usual practice to put the first image on the top left of the frame. This is fine, but don't put any other images on the left hand side of your page. In the West we scan pages from left to right and if you put any content on the left that breaks the flow of text this makes the page much more difficult to read.

Separate your Articles into Distinct Sections

Because the majority of your site's visitors are only just scanning your pages, make this easier for them by breaking your text into well defined sections. Give each section a meaningful header and make the header stand out by using bold or even a different font.

Giving your article well-defined and meaningful headers also helps with SEO as these headers are also defined as headers in the code and the search engines will mine them for keywords.

The practice of splitting your article into 'sections' will also help with your writing. Each section should be a well defined topic. If you were writing lots of run-on paragraphs these sections (your main thoughts on a topic, in effect) would be scattered through the text and hard to find. If they are easy to spot then the effect is more focussed.

Always Edit your Copy

When you write an article you should always go back to edit the text of the article. If you are going to be a writer and an author, then you need to understand that writing is a craft. No-one writes perfect copy every time. Only by going back over what you have written can you improve the spelling, grammar and overall flow of your work. 

Also remember that the more closely associated you are with the text the more difficult it is for you to spot the errors in it. Personally, I like to write something on one day and edit it lightly. Then I leave it and edit it again the following day when I can look at it with fresh eyes. Most articles go through at least four rounds of editing and even then some errors fall through the net.

The better your article reads and the fewer mistakes there are in it, the more likely it is that someone will take it seriously and will sit down to read the whole thing.

Use Bullet Points for Easier Skimming

Bullet points make it very easy to skim the main salient points of an article. This allows you to express yourself as succinctly as possible. Bullet points also allow you to highlight the main point in an article so that a reader has easy access to them.

Use Revision Blocks

Though not always necessary, I would say that these are essential for tutorial or instructional articles. This ensures that your reader can always take something away from your articles. If the reader does not have enough time or inclination to work their way through the main text body of the article, you can still provide the main points for the reader to take away.

This has two purposes. First of all, it sets you up as an authority. Your work is well researched and worth reading. Second, it encourages the reader to come back and read your copy properly. If the revision blocks have good content, then the entire article will have good content too.


Writing on-line content is always all about getting people to read that content. You want users to come back, you want search engines to index your content and you want people to post links to your content. The more useful and well written you can make it, the better.

Revision Points:

  1. Use pictures to illustrate the main points of an on-line article
  2. Write your articles in logical sections based on the main ideas
  3. Bold headings make the article easier to skim and help with SEO
  4. Edit and re-edit your work until your are happy with it. The better it is written, the more likely it is to be read.
  5. Bullet points help a reader skim through an article to glean the most important concepts
  6. Revision blocks give a summary of your article that anyone can easily access
  7. Break up the left hand margin of your text as little as possible. Doing so makes the article harder to read.
If you liked 'How to Write an Article for On-line Publishing', please share it on your favourite networking sites. As always, thank you for visiting Dyfed's Adventures in Publishing and for leaving your comments. If you have any questions please leave them in the comment box too. 

On to Part 2....

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