Would you consider yourself a pantser or a planner? No matter what you write, there are those who approach their projects with a plan, and those who prefer flying the seat of their pants. Most writers are somewhere in between. They like knowing where they’re heading, and would rather not have another staredown with the blank page. This is where the article template comes in.
Article templates are especially suited for freelance writers, bloggers or journalists who write articles, rather than those who are writing book-length works. (But if you’re looking for a book outline template, check out this resource.)
How to use an article template
Before we get into types of article templates you can use for your next project, I want to talk about how I prepared this article using a template. This is not to say there is a right or wrong way to use templates, but rather to demonstrate one way an article can come together using this type of tool.
I began by doing research on my topic by looking at articles I’ve already written (I found this one on writing outlines), as well as articles that were already available on The Write Life (like this one about freelance writing templates). I asked myself, what can I add to round out this topic better?
Here’s what I decided to focus on for a new post on article templates: provide a breakdown of a few different article templates you’ll need as a freelance writer.
Next, I looked at other articles on this topic for inspiration, did keyword research and also thought through what were the most valuable templates in my experience.
I settled on four types:
Blog article templateMagazine feature article templateNewspaper article templatePitch template
Next, I took my word count and divided it into sections. I do this to help me keep the article balanced but also to make sure I stick to the brief. Breaking down the content in this way also helps me identify sections where I may have too much or not enough information early on.
Introduction—100 wordsHeading one (example breakdown)—300 wordsHeading two (blog)—125 wordsHeading three (magazine)—125 wordsHeading four (newspaper)—125 wordsHeading five (pitch)—125 wordsConclusion—50 words
After I plug in my headings I fill in some details of what I want to cover in each section. This is freewriting with some direction, and key takeaways I want readers to have.
Blog article template
There are many types of blog posts and they all follow slightly different templates, so for the sake of brevity we’ll stick to the list post example. If you want to go deeper into blog templates then here are a couple resources: Ahrefs and Backlinko.
The list post
In a list post, here are the elements to plan for:
Headline (include the number of items in your list)Introduction (establish the benefit of reading your article)List items (identify these with headers)Short paragraphs (outline the benefits of each list item)Conclusion
When writing a list post, the most important thing is to keep the post skimmable and easy to absorb. People aren’t coming to read an essay, they’re looking to solve a problem quickly.
Magazine feature article template
Writing feature articles can be trickier than a list blog post, because these are written to tell a story and weave together several interviews, combining narrative and facts.
In general, you have to complete your interviews before you can plan your article. This is because feature articles are built around quotes and it’s often a puzzle to get these pieces together. However, having an article template structure is helpful.
Here’s a basic structure to follow
HeadlineSecondary headlineIntroduction (controlling idea)Body (the main article expanding from the controlling idea into subtopics)Conclusion
Feature articles are written in a personal tone and they utilize writing devices such as imagery and description. To go deeper on feature articles, here’s an interesting breakdown from The Freelancer’s Year.
Newspaper article template
If you’ve been to journalism school then you are familiar with the inverted pyramid. It’s called this because you picture the story like an upside down triangle. The facts come first, and you include less important and smaller details as you write.
How to write in the inverted pyramid style
Choose a descriptive headlineLede should be the main point (the reader should know the whole story after reading the first paragraph)Summarize the key pointsAdd story details and supporting information in order of importanceCut any unnecessary information or detailsUse straightforward language and short paragraphs
This is a story structure, which places the most important information first. Within a paragraph or two, the who, what, where, why and how are answered.
Article pitch template
If you’re a freelance writer, there’s a good chance pitching article ideas is a part of your everyday life. So the question is, how do you craft a pitch that will stand out above the noise? Using a pitch template can help you focus on the most important details and stay focused on what editors need to know.
Basic pitch outline
Subject line (this will be sent by email, follow the publication guidelines and get to the point quickly)SalutationIntroduction paragraph (include your suggested article headline and your connection with the publication)The pitch paragraph (include your story and how you will tell it)Bio (a bit about yourself and your qualifications)Sign off (include your contact details)
The main idea is to grab the attention of the person you’re reaching out to in a short amount of time and get that article assignment.
Article templates are a wonderful way to get clear on your idea and draw yourself a map to follow as you put your piece together. As you get more comfortable using templates these will become more and more customized to your style and needs, and that’s a good thing.
Read more: thewritelife.com