Five Things You Need to Know about Writing Articles
In Cambridge First or Cambridge Advanced, you might be asked to write an article. But do you know what makes an article different from other types of writing?
1 The reader is identified
An article is like a direct conversation with the reader. The exam question might tell you who your readers are. For example, the students at a school, or the people living in a town or people who are interested in sports. Everything you write must speak to that reader and engage their interest right from the first sentence.
2 It has to get attention
If you're anywhere on the internet these days, you'll be bombarded with articles with headlines that pull the reader in. It's called "click baiting" and all the writer is trying to do is make you open the page to read their article. You need to think like a journalist when you're writing your article.
Look at the heading and the first line of this article. How did I get your attention?*
3 It has to be interesting
For an article to work, it has to be engaging enough to read all the way through. Remember how bored the examiner must be after reading fifty exam papers. Make it easier for them to get a good impression about your writing by entertaining them. Add humour, real life or made up examples, or make up quotes.
4 It has to be easy to read
Use subheadings to break up the text and make clear paragraphs. Write in a semi-informal, conversational style. And make sure there is organisation to your ideas. The planning stage is vital for this. Spend 5-10 minutes brainstorming ideas and choose the best three or four. Think what your subheadings might be and then write a short introduction that lets the reader know what to expect.
Keep in mind that you want the reader to keep reading, so don't tell them exactly what they will read. This is not an essay! In an essay you usually restate the question, explain how you will answer it and maybe say why it's important. In an article, that will kill the reader's interest.
Look back at this paragraph. What sentence style have I used that makes it semi-informal and speak directly to the reader?**
5 Write a good ending
In an essay you sum up the points that have gone before and draw a conclusion from that. But in an article, it's better to give the reader something to think about, perhaps by asking them another question or giving them a call to action. Often, the best endings link back to the starting point in some way.
Here are two endings I could use for this article:
- Look at your internet browsing history from the last day. Which articles got your attention? Can you see how they did it?
- So, now you know how to write an article, why don't you write one giving advice on something you know about?
Common mistakes students make in articles
- The language is too formal and more suited to essays. Avoid words like: to sum up, some people say, nevertheless, on one hand etc.
- They don't use quotes or examples
- They either use not enough, or too many, questions. The questions, called rhetorical questions because they don't require an answer, shouldn't be more than one per paragraph. Good examples are:
- Have you ever ……..?
- What do you think about ……..?
- Are you one of those people who thinks that ……?
- What would life be like if ……?
- Will the future bring us ….. ?
* A title which makes the subject immediately clear. For some reason, people like reading lists! And a direct, rhetorical question in the first paragraph to make readers want to find out the answer.
** I've used the imperative to give instructions. E.g. Think…Keep in mind…Write…Spend…
Article contributed by Nicola Prentis who is a teacher and materials writer, based in Madrid and London. She is the author of Speaking Skills (B2+) - a self study book with Collins.
How To Write An Article Review
An article review essay is a critical analysis or evaluation of literature in a given field through making summary of the article in question, comparison or classification. In case it is a scientific article being reviewed, the writer will be required to use database searches to retrieve the results of the search. It is from the searches the writer chooses the article which is appropriate. It is a common skill that is developed in school, to help the students to establish analytical skills. It means the skills are not just used in the classrooms, but also applies in the work environment. Writing an article review has over time proved to be a difficult assignment for most of the students. The fact that it involves the critical evaluation of the ideas that have been presented in the article, means it is not just a summary. For most of the students, an article review is confused with an article summary. The critical analysis of the ideas in the article means, the author has to go further than summarizing the content of the article.
Content of this article
- Guide for writing
- Writing process
1. Purposes of an Article Review
- The purpose of the article review essay is associated with the writer summarizing the content of the article, evaluating other literature content and then adding their own understanding of the content.
- In most of the cases the article to be reviewed is going to be difficult to understand which requires the writer to read it severally before they are able to understand, which then means they will be in a position to offer insights into the content of the article in the review essay.
- One of the major aspects to understand, in reference to the purpose of article reviews essays writing, is a professional writing skill. This is relative to, article review requires one to have in-depth knowledge of a certain field, from which the article belongs.
- It is this information that helps in the review of the article and helps the audience to better understand the content and the argument of the writer.
- The purpose of an article review is associated with values that the people attach to opinion from others about certain information in a given field.
- It is also a crucial skill for journalists as they have to gather information on a given topic and to further assess how the audience view their work.
- Overall, article reviews build on the skills of the students to become better at analyzing information that interact with and make professional evaluations and recommendations.
2. Step-by-step guide on article review writing
2.1 First Read
The first part of the article review writing process is reading the article to be reviewed for the first time. The first time helps the writer to understand what it is the article is actually talking about. If it is an assigned reading in class, the student may not have come across the article in the past and thus will need to familiarize themselves with the content and the style of the author. The first reading of the article is crucial, as it helps the reader to connect with the author of the article to be reviewed. This also means that the reader will have to take note of the key points of the author, the basic argument presented in the article and note down some of the words, phrases and concepts that are new. These are elements that will then be looked at before going into the next reading. After noting the new information, the reader is supposed to look up the meaning of the phrases, words and read up on the concepts that have been presented in the article. The information on the various words, phrases and concepts can be found online or even at the library. It helps with better understanding the article and information presented especially if the article is in an unfamiliar field. This also sets the premises for reviewing the article in question, given it is not possible to write a review of an article that one does not understand.
2.2 Close Read
This is the followed by a close reading, which is associated with critical reading of the article. In this case the, reader is not just reading to understand but to also form an opinion of the presentation of the information, the style of the author, the ease of understanding the information resented and even an opinion on the accuracy of the information presented. As such, the close reading is associated with analytical skills of the student. The writer is supposed to take notes of the various aspects of the article that they are going to include in the article review essay. It is crucial as it makes the work or writing the review much easier, relative to collated information that is then sorted out for inclusion in the essay.
2.3 Identify Ideas
After identify the main ideas in the article, the writer may now develop the essay using their own words.
2.4 Present a Unique Article Review
The point behind an article review essay to develop the skills to analyze information gathered from the various sources and presenting in a unique manner that reflects the ideas of the essay and presented in a manner that also shows the opinion of the writer. The writer has to be in a position to present the ideas in a professional manner, showing in depth understanding of the information found on the essay.
3. Article review writing process
The first part of the article review essay is the title, which informs the readers what the essay is about. The title is supposed to be short and precise, giving all the information that the reader may need to understand what the essay is about. At the same time, the title is supposed to be catchy, such that it gets the readers interested. For example, the title may be phrased as follows: “Evaluating the rise home grown terrorism”.
This is then followed by the correct citation of the article to be reviewed. Ideally it does not only give credit to the author of the article to reviewed, but also gives the readers a chance to check out the article that is being reviewed. It is crucial, as some of the readers may want to first read the article under review or may want to compare and make opinions of their own other than what is established in the review essay. In an example the reference to an article home terrorism may be cited as follows:
Park, S. (2016). Counter-Terrorism in France : Home-Grown Terrorism and the Change of Counter-Terrorism Policy. The Journal Of Peace Studies, 17(3), 117-140. http://dx.doi.org/10.14363/kaps.2016.17.3.117.
Within the text of the essay, however the writer will acknowledge the work of the author as follows (Park, 2016).
When identifying the article, it is crucial that the writer selects an article that talks about a topic that they are familiar with. This will help them to better analyze the article as they have some background information. Choosing an article that the writer is not familiar with, will further complicate the analysis process. If for example the writer chooses an article on calculous and they are not familiar with the field, they will have difficult time analyzing the same and may actually distort the meaning presented in the article.
The introduction of the article review essay should be catchy and inform the readers about the topic that they are going to discuss. This is then followed by the introduction of the article to be reviewed, with close reference to the main ideas and arguments presented by the author. The writer then introduces the author of the article and where the information is available, the credentials of the author and some of their other works. If for example the author of the article is a senior lecturer at the local university and working with local antiterror agency, this should be brought to the attention of the readers as it builds on the credibility and authority of the information presented in the article.
The critique section of the essay is organized into three main parts, the introduction of the field in which the article belongs and the wide issues. This is then followed by the article content and later on the review of the ideas and concepts of the article according to the writer. This means that, this is content that has to be unique to the writer. If for example, the writer do not agree with the strategies of reducing home terrorism, they may state so in this section and support their argument with facts.
In the conclusion, the writer summarizes the main points of the article and also connect the same wit their opinion on the matter.
To make sure the article review essay is professional, the writer has to read through it and make all the necessary corrections such as grammatical errors.