Writing a How-to Article for Your School Newspaper
How-to articles are some of the easiest writing you can do—assuming you know what you are talking about. In this article, we will look at the most important elements of this type of article and how to prepare for and then write it for your school newspaper.
Know Your Stuff
A how-to article, by definition, casts you in the light of the expert—the one who knows what they are doing and how to do it right. So you really do need to know. Do whatever research you can to make sure you are comfortable with the process.
If you are going to write about How to Study, then you probably need to do some research on studying and memory retention techniques. Make sure what you write about is relevant to your audience.
Outline the Specific Steps
Once you have a topic and you know the subject well enough, outline the specific steps needed to be taken in order to accomplish the task. For example, on How to Study:
- Take Good Notes
- Transfer Notes into a Graphical Representation (visual things are remembered easier)
- Study in Spurts – 10 to 15 minutes (we remember first and last easiest)
- Switch Subjects Often (to eliminate mental fatigue)
- Teach It to Someone Else (you know what you teach)
- Review Often (little moments here and there)
If these are your steps, you now have your subheadings for your article.
Writing the Article
Begin with an introduction to the subject and why your method will help someone and then begin explaining each step that you outlined above. Write somewhere between two and five paragraphs to explain each point. If you think you need to write an entire article on just one point, then that is probably what you should do.
You don’t want each of your points to be so long that they become an entirely different matter and pull your reader away from the steps. Be concise and be thorough in how you write. Make every word count.
When opportunity presents itself, give examples of each of your steps. Sometimes, images work well, but certain exercises, personal experiences, or examples from other people are also nice additions.
People need to, as much as can be done, see your steps in action. So provide tips on implementing each step where applicable. For example, you can give tips on Step 5 of How to Study by saying something like this:
If you can sit where you want to in class, it might be best to sit next to the student who seems to be struggling the most in class. Invariably that person may ask your help. In teaching him or her how to do it, you’ve learned the material better than any cramming session ever could. So instead of sitting by your best friend and being distracting during class, sit next to someone who you can help teach.
Be Positive on the Outcome
Focus on the positive outcomes of following your steps, rather than the negative consequences of not doing so. You are trying to help someone do something, not lecture them because they don’t want to do it your way. So be positive in your writing. Not only will you find it rewarding when people are helped, but you will find that it strengthens your own character in that area.
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