While these tips are meant for mentors writing pages for this website, writing smart, info-dumpy articles is a useful skill to have in all aspects of your life.
It can be important to convey concise information to train employees, teach people new skills, or introduce people to your products. Here is what goes into a good, actually useful article.
Step 1: Information Dump.
First, include everything you can possibly think of about your topic. Brainstorm every piece of advice you’ve ever heard and be creative to come up with anything that might be useful to people learning about your subject. For example, our interview page is rich, deep, and full of tons of tips. We’re aiming for as exhaustive as possible, not a quick read.
Then Google advice for the area you’re writing about and make sure you’re including all the good tips you find there as well. For example, the resumes page has Dos and Don’ts from dozens of articles around the web, all sorted and put into one place.
Ask other mentors for help. Perhaps they have ideas to add as well. Our LinkedIn profiles article has tips from dozens of LinkedIn experts and we add new things to it all the time!
Make sure each piece of advice is practical and specific. For example, our page on stress gives specific tips about how to meditate and destress; it doesn’t just say to relax. We suggest progressive muscle relaxation and provide details on exactly how to do it.
Do share personal stories that will help add context to your suggestions and as an example of how they work in practice. This is especially important in mental health. But don’t aim for inspirational, vague, or fluffy except in the heading lines or the conclusion.
Finally, add links! You might not have time to talk about everything in your article, but you should link to other resources out there that can help people learn more about your subject. Check out our page on learning artificial intelligence for a great example of this.
Step 2: Organize.
- Steps. Describe the different steps that people can take to accomplish the goal you’re writing about. For example, see this article or our coverletter page.
- Types of resources/information. Group information based on the type of information it provides so people can find what they are looking for more easily. For example, see our online K-12 educational resources page.
- Dos and Don’ts. When giving advice about how to create something or teach social skills, writing lists of Dos and Don’ts can be very helpful. For example, see our resume page which highlights the basics of writing a resume by organizing tips into dos and don’ts.
- Frequently asked questions. Often, people search for our articles with the same questions over and over again. Organizing your questions based on theme and answering them can help people quickly find the solutions they need. For example, our contract law page provides advice on some commonly asked contract law questions for lay readers. Our COVID-19 safety page has a list of clickable FAQ questions at the bottom.
- Advanced. Sometimes, adding multiple columns, pictures, videos, or a combination of different organizational methods will be best. Get creative, but always focus on readability, not coolness. For example, see our photography page.
Step 3: Edit. Edit. Edit.
On our website, we always put every article through several rounds of edits at the leadership level. It saves us a lot of time if the page is as perfect as possible first and, of course, we can’t always edit everything you write!
Check the basics.
- Is everything spelled right?
- Have you only capitalized the first letters of each sentence and proper nouns?
- Do you have subject verb agreement?
- Are all your sentences complete?
- Is your bulleting consistent?
- Do your numbers make sense?
- Are headings clear and legible?
- If someone skims through your article, is it easy for their eye to catch the sections they need to read?
Check your conciseness and flow. Delete everything that isn’t helpful or useful. Don’t delete anything that might be useful to someone, even if it seems like very specific advice that would only apply to a few people. Keep all your content; just make it as simple as possible!
- Do you repeat the same words a lot?
- Do you repeat the same thoughts in more than one place?
- Can you say the same things more simply?
- Are you using unnecessary phrases like:
- “due to” or “because of the fact that” instead of “because of”
- “in order to” instead of “to”
- “all of the” instead of “all the”
- “as to whether” instead of “whether”
- “inspite of the fact that” instead of “despite”
- “with regards to” instead of “regarding”
- anything like “there is,” “actually,” “literally,” “then,” “at all times,” “for all intents and purposes,” etc.
Finally, remember to update your article with anything new you learn or if others join your team and have tips to add! You can easily do this for our website by emailing your Team Lead or Executive Leadership.
In conclusion, make sure you tell people what they need to know about your subject matter expertise, provide them resources to learn further if needed, and create a structure that allows them to grasp the information and find what they’re looking for easily.