The Importance Of Research And Article Structure
Recently, I published two pieces to The Writing Cooperative in the form of 15 Mac Based Tools That Help Writing Productivity and How To Use Scapple Effectively. Both articles are my best preforming articles on Medium at the moment. There was something I noticed on my best performing pieces; they had hundreds, if not thousands of views as there was research behind the articles. Before my two Writing Cooperative articles, my best performing post was on Premature Babies.
In today’s post, let’s talk about the importance of research and article structure.
Planning It All Out
Let’s begin the post off with setting the structure in which the main body of the article will lie once the writer begins to add words to the page. While a multitude of content writers cringe at the idea of having to structure the articles they write, it’s actually not difficult. I often find it the best part of any article I write.
Titles And Headings
The important part of any post is a strong title. Moreover, the title must reflect on the subject matter in which the writer will speak about. It can convey anything from a simple mission statement to a question that will be better breached in the article.
Having spent a few months writing for Movie Pilot, consequently, I learned that the heading of the article is just as important as the article itself. It draws people’s attention, accordingly, and gets them hyped to read your article and to experience the pain stealing work you put into it.
One important factor when it comes to titles and heading is the grammar and spelling in the heading itself. I’ve read a truckload of articles that have shockingly written headings and they are total successes. Why, I have no clue.
- When write headings, NEVER complete them with full stops
- If writing about an event, film, television series, etc., ensure single quotation marks place around the subject
- Each word including ‘the’, ‘at’ and other joiner words should begin with a capital letter
- It is perfectly alright to use exclamation marks and question marks, just do not overboard
Using Sub-Headings To Convey Points Of Interest
Similar to regular headings, sub-headings are just as important and should get written similar to their bigger counterparts. However, there should be one subtle difference; which should convey the point which is being spoken about that section.
- If unsure as to what to focus on in terms of writing the setting out your work’s sub-headings, use how, what, where, when, how and why as a ways of structuring the sub-headings.
So, you have an idea but don’t know how far you can expend on the topic you have chosen without running out of material. That’s where brainstorming comes in. By doing this, brainstorming unlocks ideas and allows the writer extra material to work with.
When it comes to brainstorming, it can be done on a piece of paper or a whiteboard, doing it on the computer has suddenly become so much easier. There are multiple web based mind map building websites out there, there are also apps from either the app store or through Google searches. As I mentioned before, I wrote an article on Scapple which is the sister app to Scrivener. I even had a similar program to Scapple called FreeMind, which is free for download. Using an app to brainstorm is much easier than having to look around for multitudes of paper that will only get thrown away once you’re done with them.
Headings Before Text
Before you start writing the body of the article, ensure you put the headings and sub-headings in place before you write a word. By adding the headings and sub-headers, it helps to identify which bits of your brainstorming and research sessions you’re proceeding to install. Give a hint of what the section will talk about.
No one needs to read a massive slab of text in an article. It’s not a book. One suggestion I can give, break your text by inserting images and/or GIFs. Depending on how long the post you’ve written is, utilise images or GIFs every couple of paragraphs to give the eyes a break from what they’re reading. Just be careful not to go overboard otherwise the post will appear crowded. Also, be sure to add where you found the image. There is nothing worse than unintentionally getting sued.
Before you can even start playing around with the article layout, you need to research your topic. This is a vital part of any project. It needs to be done thoroughly to cover all the points that have been brainstormed.
Finding New Angles
If writing for Movie Pilot taught me anything, it was to find a unique angle that hadn’t gotten covered elsewhere. If you have already brainstormed your idea, Google your current angle. If you’re writing for a specific website, email them or use social media to ask if they’d approve of the angle.
It’s important to know where to find sources. If you’re writing an article on a topic with facts and numbers, it is important to use sources that are deemed accurate. The best websites to use for stats are government websites and company websites. Never use Wikipedia as a source, even if it has accurate sources listed since anyone can edit the website.
While the internet is the go-to source for information, there’s a number of other sourcing locations you can use. One just so happens to be the library where a number of the world’s best writers have gone to acquire inspiration and to write their works of pure genius. The library use to be the go-to place for writers conducting research back in the day before the internet took over.
If writing a historical piece, the best place to go is to the source if it’s possible. If writing about the colonial period of your home town, try going to the local town hall or someplace where they keep local records that can be accessed by the public.
Documentaries are also a fantastic source of inspiration, though it just depends on the topic. The best ones get broadcasted by The History Channel or Sir David Attenborough.
First Hand Accounts
What people don’t realise when it comes to research it’s that you don’t to aquire a journalism degree to obtain first hand accounts from people who witnessed anything. If you’re confident in your ability to interview people by talking to them, go for it, but just be cautious not to pester people if they say no to being interviewed.
Quotes And Paraphrasing
To make the article appear and sound professional, use quotes from the original source to when a person says a quote or a passage that can be paraphrased and placed into your article.
The majority of word processing programs have a quote feature where it will block the quote. The blocked quote will also shrink in size so it stands out from the rest of the piece. Same goes for a paraphrased section.
Paraphrasing is a little different to what blocking quotes. You basically have a quote and break it down into a smaller passage, while maintaining the original purpose of the quote. Paraphrasing can also apply to the paragraphs in other articles that you wish to use. With the quotes, just be sure to mention where you obtained the original paragraph from. Just be sure to add a hyperlink linking back to the original source.
As mentioned above, when it comes to images, ensure you slip a few pictures to give the eyes a rest from reading if the article you have written is extremely long. Caution: just make sure the images you use are high quality. If they require enlarging, notwithstanding, will become blurry and lose quality.
Ordinarily, if you’re using Google to source your images, ensure you can use them. Conversely, play around with the settings that Google Images has at its disposal.
While there are other factors as to what makes up the basic article structure and research methods. These are just a few ideas to assist you in beginning your writing journey. Nevertheless, if you have other tips that can help your fellow writers, be sure to share them around.