When fewer words are allowed, how can you ensure your message is conveyed articulately? In this post, we are going to discuss about short articles and why they are a complete package in themselves but before we begin let us remind you to take backups. So that if something goes wrong, you still have the blog posts you have written and can quickly restore them. But if you are not using a backup service, then check out this backup plugin guide to choosing the best WordPress backup plugin. That said, let’s dig deep into short articles.

My usual pieces on BlogVault are safely 500 words or more. However, a newspaper rarely has room for such elaborate prose unless it is for a feature story. Newspapers are kept in print largely by the ads they carry. Therefore, content often ends up battling for space with ads. News reports are, therefore, usually 500 words or less.

It is not just newspapers, constrained by ad space, that need their articles to be short and sweet.

On the Internet, any given topic will have numerous commentators. However, not everyone surfing the Net has a surfeit of time. Also, with the immediacy that the Net brings to news, the preferred format is short pieces that provide the necessary information.

These are published throughout the day as events unfold, with a longer consolidated feature at the end of the day. Short and concise articles thus become more valuable. Given that the Net also allows you to indulge in a variety of interests, readers are unlikely to be in the mood for lengthy expositions all the time. They want to read and move on to the next topic.

Short, but not falling short

While the whole point of a short article of 250-350 words is that it should be short, it is worth remembering that it still must be informative and useful to the reader.

For that reason, it must cover all important points on the topic. You cannot let your readers think that you are compromising on quality or denying them the whole picture because you are short of space or some other reason.

If you are a news reporter, you are bound to earn great goodwill among your copy editors if you manage to submit a concise 500-word news report.  It is usually, however, the editor’s job to cut down 1000-word copies to the required length. In my opinion, you can employ some of the techniques we use while editing to ensure your copy for the web, be it a blog, a review, an article or a journal,  is short but informative.

Keep it simple

First of all, a summary helps. Take a few seconds to organise your thoughts and decide what you want to say. I find it helpful to scribble a few points. It’s a bit like setting out the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. When they are laid out before you, you have a clearer idea of what goes where. So, if I have a few points, I can work off them to create a beginning, middle and end. That should ensure you don’t ramble when actually writing.

One of the easiest ways to cut down on length when attempting to post a short piece is to sacrifice the adjectives. Of course, as journalists, we are told that adjectives have little to no place in a news story. However, it might seem unfair to remove adjectives from a feature or an opinion piece as well. I do not mean strip your copy of all adjectives but “On a dreary December day” can just as well be “On December 10th” when you are trying to find space for what’s important.

Not only does the avoidance of adjectives keep your piece short but it also simplifies it, which increases the scope of readership. Your vocabulary need not create a sense of exclusivity any longer. For the same reason, short sentences are to be preferred over longer, more complicated ones. Towards the same goal, assess if bullet points can make your point for you since bullets might justify leaving out grammatical necessities like an article or a preposition without making your sentences seem incorrect.

While it may seem painful to do so, leave out the anecdotes in a short piece unless your piece revolves around one.

Learn to curb redundancy in your writing. “December” is just as effective or maybe more so than “the month of December”, “250-300” already suggests that the number cited is not accurate so “about 250-300” is excessive. It might seem difficult to incorporate such changes in your writing immediately, which is why it might help to write your piece and then go back to the beginning and edit it, to weed out such redundancies.

If you can implement these steps, you should be able to make your point in an articulate fashion without exceeding the 250-350 word limit. To demonstrate, what follows is a shorter version of this article.

Cut To Fit

As a writer or a blogger, you must be able to produce both long and short pieces of writing. You may be required to write short pieces for a variety of reasons —space constraints in a newspaper; the need to get news out quickly and effectively in a crisp, easily-digestible format; consideration for readers’ limited attention span, etc. However, your pieces cannot compromise on information just because you are allowed fewer words. It helps, therefore, to know how to convey your message effectively in 250-350 words.

Plan ahead

1) Structure: List your ideas and organize them so you have a clear beginning, middle and end. This will ensure you don’t ramble.

2) Sacrifice adjectives: “On a dreary December day” can just as well be “On December 10th” when you are trying to find space for what’s important.

3) Short, simple sentences: Short sentences make for easier reading and less confusion.

4) Use bullets: They might justify shorter sentences minus grammatical necessities like an article or a preposition without making your sentences seem incorrect.

5) Abandon anecdotes: Your stories and examples are important and helpful but not necessarily in a short piece. Keep it straightforward.

6) Curb redundancy: “December” is more effective than “the month of December”, “250-300” suggests that the amount cited is not accurate so “about 250-300” is excessive.

7) Edit: Write your piece and then go back to the beginning and edit it, to weed out what’s unnecessary.

If you can implement these steps, you should be able to make your point in an articulate fashion without exceeding your 250-300 word limit.

The original article is around 700 words and the revised one, 265. Of course, I might have cheated a little with a few more adjectives in the original than is usual. However, a feature or comment or opinion piece offers you that freedom, which a specific requirement of 250-350 words doesn’t.

Some examples of writing that fit the 250-350 word length category:

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/02/dining/the-unstuffy-taco.html?ref=style

http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/blog/2013/sep/27/samantha-lewthwaite-white-widow-most-wanted

http://gma.yahoo.com/blogs/abc-blogs/united-flight-makes-emergency-landing-pilot-suffers-fatal-113852929–abc-news-topstories.html

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-09-23/apple-sells-more-phones-over-the-weekend-than-blackberry-did-last-quarter.html

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/09/30/natalie-portman-tom-hiddleston-elle-uk_n_4017603.html?utm_hp_ref=women&ir=Women

While short articles are excellent, they will amount to nothing if your site goes down. Misfortunes like these can happen to anyone which is why it’s advisable that you take WordPress backups. So that, on occasion of a misfortune, you can always restore your site back to normal.

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