Step 1: Clarify the policy questions
Be it books, journals, magazines or blogs - in everyday life it can happen every now and then that you have to publish an article on a certain topic somewhere. Here are a few more tips.
Before you think about content, you should be aware of some key frameworks, namely:
- In which blog, which journal, in which magazine or in which anthology will the article appear?
- Who will be the “official” author? You don't necessarily have to be the author, because the boss often places his name underneath.
- How long should the post be? This is often indicated in characters. For orientation: An average text page has about 2000 characters (including spaces).
- When should the article appear, by when must it be available to the editor and by when does it have to be agreed in the house?
- Who releases the contribution within the company?
- With whom in the house must the contribution be coordinated?
- Does the Press and Public Relations Department need to be informed?
- Should the permission of customers, suppliers or partners be obtained?
- Can images, graphics, tables or photos be used?
- Determine if there are specific authoring and style guidelines.
- Clarify how extensive the author's information should be (CV, position).
- Very important: Who are the readers? What do they know about the subject? What are they interested in?
Step 2: Formulate the headline
It is often recommended that (journalist) schools only formulate the headline once the text has been completed. I am of a different opinion: who thinks right from the beginning of a succinct headline, is forced to think about the purpose of his contribution.
Of course you can always change the headline again. The goals can be very different. You can comment or promote or sell something. They can inform factually or motivate others. You can prove your own competence or try to convince others.
When formulating the headline, note the following:
- The headline is the most striking element of an article and is intended to arouse the curiosity of the reader and convey a pointed statement.
- The heading should narrow the topic Sense make clear.
- The header should normally have no more than 30 characters.
- The headline should consist of short words.
- The header should contain at least one verb.
Step 3: Work out your core messages
Even normal employees, who have nothing to do with communication, have to write more and more often today - for example in the company's corporate blog. For example in the Daimler blog:
Why messages are important
How Blog manager Uwe Knaus in an interview Best of HR – Berufebilder.de® reports, the employees here tell of their work. This conveys an authentic representation of the company. But how do you build up such a blog post and work out the core message as accurately as possible? Here are three important tips.
- Try to summarize in a few sentences what you want to communicate.
- Remember to present the facts not (only) from your point of view, but above all from the perspective of the reader.
- So, do not write what you know, but tell them what is best for your readers.
Keep an eye on problems and solutions
To express it in a picture: you want to describe the appearance of a cake, but readers are usually only interested in the recipe. This means: Name (not only) facts, but also focus on problems and your suggestions for solutions and methods.
How many core notifications - one can also speak of points of division - should you transport about your contribution? It has proven effective to bring no more than five core messages.
Step 4: Formulate your core messages
The most difficult part for many people is to draft the main part. After all, you don't have to start with the proverbial “white sheet of paper” because you already have your core messages. Incidentally, these do not necessarily have to be arranged chronologically - more importantly, they follow a comprehensible logic and are structured in an exciting way.
5 Tips for Good Formulation
Given the nearly infinite variety of topics that can be written about, it is naturally difficult to give general recommendations for this step. Nevertheless, here are some tips:
- Explain what you have done or think about a specific topic.
- Always justify your statements.
- Remember, the more concrete you write and the more illustrative examples you give, the better your contribution will be.
- However, do not get lost in details and prevent content from “going under” in the flood of information.
- Draw conclusions from your theses.
Graphic and examples
From my hands-on experience, I would like to add two more tips: Try placing a graphical element (figure, table, enumeration) on each page. Keep in mind, however, that illustrations that you have created in PowerPoint, for example, are not printed in books or magazines in a color or in a greatly reduced format.
Of course, you have more options on the Internet. And for both applies: also make yourself aware that articles, studies and books have a long “lifespan”, but the examples mentioned in them often quickly become obsolete. So choose your examples carefully.
Step 5: Formulate the introduction
You may have wondered that you should begin immediately with the main body. This has the simple reason that you are usually much easier to write the introduction, if you know what comes after it.
With the introduction, you lead to the topic, establish the “tonality” (thus determine the tone in which you formulate from now on) and make yourself comfortable with the reader. However, this only applies to longer contributions. The rule of thumb applies: the shorter an article, the sooner you should "get down to business".
Step 6: Formulate the conclusion
From school, you'll probably know that an essay does not end abruptly, but has an end, however brief. What options do you have to finish an article? Draw a (short) conclusion and summarize your core messages.
- Explain what consequences the reader should draw from your article.
- Make a reference to the introduction.
- Give tips and hints on how the reader can benefit from your comments.
- Encourage your readers to take a specific action or make a comparison.
- Ask the reader to fill in a questionnaire on the internet or request further information material.
Again, what has already been said: The shorter the article, the tighter the final should be.
Step 7: Prepare a summary of the actual text
You will know this from newspaper articles: There the summary at the beginning of the text is called “Lead” and it has the task of making the reader curious and informing him about the most important content.
It is similar with most specialist articles and sometimes also with book contributions. Answer the six most important “W questions” in two to three sentences, namely: “Who does what when where how and why?”
Step 8: Complete the author information
For most (trade) magazines, it is customary that some information be given to the author or to the authors at the end. Always state your full name with academic titles, employer and position.
Occasionally there is also more space available - then you can call important stations of the CV as well as previous publications.
Step 9: Correct your contribution
Finally, check your text for accuracy, compliance with format specifications, correct references to sources and literature used, spelling, punctuation and style.
Complete the number of characters
Then add the number of characters - this is quite easy in Word and other word processing programs with the function "Extras - Count Words".
6 final tips
Finally, some additional hints to help you write articles and book contributions:
- Use technical terms as sparingly as possible unless you write to specialists only.
- Do not use abbreviations. Exception: If you use longer terms more often (such as “Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology”), first write out the term and then name the abbreviation (BMWi).
- Avoid an advertising style, that is, no superlatives, exaggerations, and embellishments.
- For longer texts, use subheadings to visually divide your contribution.
- Avoid highlighting (fonts in the text, italics, right-justified or centered lines of text).
- Do not send preliminary or dissimilar versions of texts to editors - always the final ones.
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