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Articles - Should They Entertain or Inform?

Sep 4, 2007
You can put one article in the hands of ten readers and receive mixed opinions. Some may feel it did not tell them anything they did not know already. Whereas others may feel it enlightened them in a few areas. But, will they all agree that it was a good article in general? That is the true test.

What constitutes a good article? Is it the information contained within it or the way the information is presented? The answer is probably both. Presentation and substance is everything. A good article should tell a story in a way that grabs the reader's interest and holds it.

The opening of an article is the introduction or the teaser. It is what pulls the reader in like the synopsis found on the back cover of a book or the coming attraction of a movie.

Like a good book or movie, an article has a beginning, middle and end. If the beginning of a movie is boring, there is a slim chance the viewer will watch the rest of it unless they have paid to see it. If the beginning a book is boring, it will not take too much to fall asleep or put it down.

The same is true with an article. But there is one exception. An article, unlike a movie or a book is not fully intended to entertain. Of course, there is nothing wrong in using humor to engage the reader's interest, but it the intention should be to inform the reader.

An article is a fairly quick read. People generally read articles online because they are either part of a newsletter or because they found it during their research. In either case, they are interested in a particular subject and are hoping to learn something new in a short period of time.

As an author, there is no way of knowing what the reader already knows. But, they do have a responsibility to make a point and to inform. They should leave the reader with the feeling that they now see things from a new perspective.

One of the best approaches to use it to use a combination of facts and opinion. This is sort of like being the narrator of a movie. As the story is unfolding, the author's opinion can be stated which can be conversational as well as informative. For example, the author can make a comparison to another fact and suggest which of the two has more credibility and why they feel that way. It can also be a good point in the article to share another resource.

As for presentation, it is always good to use bold headings to visually break the information up if there are going to be specific points made. These bold headings can be followed with small paragraphs and even numbered lists. At the end of each section, the author can include their opinion. This is an organized way to maintain a flow and help the reader to follow what is being said. If the first few sections are presented in the same way, the reader will realize that this is the style of the articles and will expect to rest of the article to follow suit. As they read each bold heading and supporting information, they will expect and even look forward to the commentary that follows. Whatever the author chooses to do, they should maintain a level of consistency.

Like a good book or movie, there needs to be an ending. It can be a conclusion or summary. How the author chooses to part with their readers is individual. Regardless of the length of the closing, it should give the reader the sense that the point was made and now things are winding down. It does not need to be cliffhanger, but it should not leave them feeling like they missed a scene in the movie or a page in the book.

In the end, the reader should feel they have learned something new and enjoyed the learning experience.
About the Author
This article was written by Brett Michael at Topic Planet, a great online article community where authors and publisher alike can download and contribute articles on every topic on the planet. For more information, visit Topic Planet at Topic Planet
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