How to write a news – basics, tips and format

In simple terms, a piece of news is a report of an event. It could be a crime, a statement by a public figure, a product launch, a price drop, a product leak or anything that has happened and is worth reporting.

But is writing a news story as simple as just letting the users know about the event? While it might sound pretty easy and straightforward, technically it isn’t.

A news story should be short, yet convey all the relevant information.

News writing basics:

The basics of news writing include what to write and how to write. You write to be read, not to be ignored. Until and unless your news story is informative and well-written, chances of readers leaving it midway are very high.

What to write

Stick to the Five Ws of journalism – Who, What, When, Where and Why. A complete story should cover – Who was (or were) involved, What happened, When did it happen, Where did it take place and Why did it happen? Some experts also talk about including How (How did it happen?), but that can be efficiently covered under the Five Ws itself.

How to write

The five Ws mentioned above will be covered by almost every person writing that particular news, so how do you write will actually make your copy stand out of others. Follow these simple news writing tips and techniques to make your news story a great one.

  • Write a great headline
  • Stick to the format (discussed below)
  • Keep your writing tight. Write concise sentences with simple verbs. The entire article should be easily consumable. If a reader needs to reread your paragraphs to understand the story, it probably needs improvement. Follow the basics of content writing
  • Avoid repeating the same information again and again
  • When quoting someone, use their full name and designation. However, when mentioning the same person for the second time, just use the last name ( As an exception, avoid this if two persons with the same last name are involved)
  • Avoid giving opinions while reporting a sensitive news (like crime, accident etc.). However, on light topics e.g. product launch, movie promotion events etc., feel free to be opiniative.
  • Until and unless something has been proven, use words like allegedly, purportedly etc. Don’t be a judge yourself.

News writing format

Inverted Pyramid is considered as the most popular news writing format across the globe. According to this format, a news starts with the lede and then presents facts in the descending order of importance.

Source: Pressbooks

The Lede: The Lede (aka The Lead) is the first paragraph of your news story. It should convey the complete news through the five W’s discussed above. An optimal lede should not be longer than 2-3 lines.

e.g. A speeding truck hit a car on the highway connecting city A to city B in the early hours of Wednesday, leaving three people dead and one critically injured. The driver has been arrested.

The body: This part of the news should contain further details with informative materials like facts, figures, images, videos, background information etc. Make sure to present the data in the descending order of importance.

The tail: Here you can put the less relevant information. It could be your opinion on the matter, some related news that happened in the past or anything that you think should add more value to the report.

Note that most of the readers will read only the first couple of paragraphs word by word and simply skim (read in fast mode, skipping lines in between) the rest ones. This is why it is important to put valuable information first.

There would be hundreds of reporters writing the same news, make sure your copy stands out.

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