How to write an article for your school newspaper

Most newspaper articles break down into two categories:

  • News articles
  • Feature articles

You will also find opinion pieces, like editorials and book and movie reviews. But this lesson deals strictly with news and feature articles.

Here's how you can tell the difference between a news story and a feature story.

  • News articles cover the basics of current events. They answer the questions: who, what, where, how, and when?
  • Feature articles are longer and more in depth than regular news articles. They cover one subject from multiple angles and are written in a more creative, entertaining format. Although a news story can be creative and entertaining, too. Check out the examples below.

It is important to remember that both news and features demand the same level of research and reporting.

Read examples of news and feature articles from the Scholastic Kids Press Corps. Read them all, then write your own articles modeled after them.

The Basic Story Outline

The best way to structure a newspaper article is to first write an outline. Review your research and notes. Then jot down ideas for the following six sections. Remember, this is just a foundation upon which to build your story.

I. Lead sentence

Grab and hook your reader right away.

II. Introduction

Which facts and figures will ground your story? You have to tell your readers where and when this story is happening.

III. Opening quotation

What will give the reader a sense of the people involved and what they are thinking?

IV. Main body

What is at the heart of your story?

V. Closing quotation

Find something that sums the article up in a few words.

VI. Conclusion (optional—the closing quote may do the job)

What is a memorable way to end your story? The end quote is a good way to sum things up. That doesn’t always work. If you are quoting more than one person with different points of view in your story, you cannot end with a quote from just one of them. Giving one of your interviewees the last word can tilt the story in their favor. In this age of the Internet, you can also end your story with a link to more information or even your own behind-the-scenes blog post.

Now It’s Your Turn

STEP 1: Read an article from the Scholastic Kids Press Corps and fill in the following blanks:

Lead sentence:
Introduction:
Opening quotation:
Main body:
Closing quotation:
Conclusion:

Remember, not ALL of these elements may be represented in the story, or even in one place.

STEP 2: Now, using your research and notes, write an outline for your own article.

Remember, your first version of a story is a first draft, not a finished article. Here a few good tips for turning in a quality story to your editor/teacher.

How to write an article for your school newspaper

These articles are all about the news. Specifically, you want to write about school news. You can write about local, national, or world news—but we recommend only doing so where they are relevant to the student body.

You have the opportunity to go so much further than what is posted on social media sites. Social media reports rumor, gossip, and assumptions. You will report the truth, having done all the relevant research and fact checking. You want your article to be the definitive source on the issue—the source others will point to and say, “But that’s not what so-and-so said.”

To learn how to write a school news article, click here.

Editorial (Opinion Piece, Commentary)

These articles are about influencing popular opinion and represents the consensus view of the newspaper editorial staff. It can also be about entertainment. People need to read your article and become engaged with it, even if they completely disagree with you. Some may read your piece because they completely agree. Others will read it because they just like the way you say it. Still others will read it because they feel a need to respond and disagree with you. Regardless of the reason, you have engaged the reader in such a way that your opinion has an impact. This is the main purpose of an editorial.

To see tips on writing editorial pieces, click here.

Feature Story

A feature story is probably the longest article you will write. It takes a news article and expands upon it, trying to explore reasons as to why the particular news story happened. To some degree, your opinion is inserted into the article, but in general, your opinion is based on the facts you have been able to gather, not on a personal bias.

A feature story will also make predictions on the consequences or ramifications of the news story. Likely scenarios are presented that might in some way effect the student body you are writing to. In general, a school newspaper will have one, maybe two, of these types of articles.

To learn how to write a feature story, click here.

Columns

A column can be written by the same author each issue of the newspaper. It will reflect the personal opinion of a single individual and can follow a similar theme through each issue. In general they are editorials, but written from one person’s perspective and opinion, and it may be laser-focused on one particular area: advice, polls (and responses to), school announcements, school policy, question and answers, rival school news, and so on.

For more tips on writing columns, click here.

Review Article

A review article is a first-hand experience (good or bad) of a product, service, person, group, or idea. Your job here is to give as an unbiased experience of the good and negative aspects of your experience. You want to inform readers of what to expect. You also want to be thorough and honest about aspects you did not experience.

To learn how to write a review article, click here.

Promotional Article

The idea here is to encourage your readers to join in, engage in, participate in, purchase, or otherwise become involved with an activity, a group, a product, or an opportunity. For instance, the Newspaper Club can write an article about why joining them would provide members with an expanded resume that could help them land a job someday. An upcoming school activity might also be written about to encourage students to participate.

For tips on writing a promotional article, click here.

How-To Articles

These types of articles have become much more popular in recent years. For a school newspaper, writing about how to study, how to memorize better, how to utilize certain school resources, or how to best take advantage of the school cafeteria. All of these ideas, and many more, might be of interest to the student body and are potential articles for your newspaper.

To learn how to write a how-to article, click here.

Free Cloud Designer Templates

Our templates are 100% customizable, super user-friendly, and designed specifically to help you create outstanding school newspapers with our free Cloud Designer. Below are a few of the 100s of templates available to you. The first three show the various sizes we offer.

Links on this guide may go to external web sites not connected with Randolph Community College. Their inclusion is not an endorsement by Randolph Community College and the College is not responsible for the accuracy of their content.

Writing a SUMMARY of an article

The purpose of a summary is to give the reader a clear, objective picture of the original text. Most importantly, the summary restates only the main points of a text or a lecture without giving examples or details, such as dates, numbers or statistics.

Guidelines for writing a summary of an article:
• State the main ideas of the article.
• Identify the most important details that support the main ideas.
• Write your summary in your own words; avoid copying phrases and sentences from the article unless they’re direct quotations.
• Express the underlying meaning of the article, not just the superficial details.
• Your summary should be about one third of the length of the original article.

Your summary should include:

Introduction
• Start with a summary or overview of the article which includes the author’s name and the title of the article.
• Finish with a thesis statement that states the main idea of the article.
Body Paragraphs
• The number of paragraphs in your summary depends on the length of the original article.
• Your summary should be about one third the length of the original article. For a one-paragraph summary, discuss each supporting point in a separate sentence. Give 1-2 explanations for each supporting point. For a multi-paragraph summary, discuss each supporting point in a separate paragraph.
• Start each body paragraph with a topic sentence.
• Each paragraph focuses on a separate main idea and just the most important details from the article.
• Put the ideas from the essay into your own words. Avoid copying phrases and sentences from the article.
• Use transitional words and phrases to connect ideas.

Concluding Paragraph
• Summarize the main idea and the underlying meaning of the article.

Adapted from "Guidelines for using IN-TEXT CITATION in a SUMMARY (or RESEARCH PAPER)" (opens in a new window) by Christine Bauer-Ramazani, Saint Michael's College.

Writing reports or reviews on newspaper articles is an important practice, mainly because it allows reviewers to discern the accuracy and credibility of a reporter’s information. Reporting on a journalist’s findings requires critical thinking, and the ability to consider peripheral ideas that could form an article’s content. Once an article has been analyzed using a variety of references, the reviewer should have a solid idea of the article’s accuracy.

Select a credible and reliable newspaper article. If your article is derived from an online source, ensure the website is not a blog, does not contain typographical errors, and is not laden with advertisements. Be sure that the article is current. As you read and re-read your article, highlight various significant points or write several notes on a separate sheet of notebook paper.

Create a short introduction to begin your report. Your introduction could include background information about the article, a potential problem with the article’s content, and your proposed solution. Similar to an essay’s thesis, your article’s introduction should give a general blueprint for the rest of the report.

Compose a summary of the article. Columbia University suggests that you include the author’s main point, purpose, intent and supporting details in your summary. The summary is where you state facts about the article, not your opinion on those facts.

Use your references and facts from the article to form an opinion and to provide critical analysis of the article. The references will help you support your opinion. Thinking critically about an article’s content requires you to ask questions about the author’s intentions in writing the article and the article’s target audience.

Form a conclusion about the article and your findings. Do not restate what you have already mentioned, but carry the article further to express its relevance to a contemporary social issue or a future dilemma. Your conclusion will neatly wrap up your argument, and give the reader other points to consider.

Be sure to keep your writing clear and concise. If you complete two or three drafts of your report, then you are able to limit grammatical and linguistic mistakes.

While you can use a notebook and pen to compose your report, documenting your work on a computer allows easy retrieval, back-up of your work, and tools to ensure accuracy.

Newspapers are always looking for good, engaging content. Though most stories are written by staff writers, an editor will often consider a well-presented story idea from a new freelancer. For the best chance of seeing your words in print, use AP style, polish your pitch until it is flawless and target the right person.

Choose Your News

Editors want stories that engage readers and give them information they can use. If you know about an interesting new business, an event being planned in the community or something unusual going on, do some preliminary research and find out the basic facts: who, what, where, when and why it is happening. Decide which key players you need to interview. Think about your story from an editor’s point of view; figure out how the information will add value to a reader’s day and what aspects of it are most surprising and entertaining.

Aim Your Pitch

Make sure you target your pitch to the right editor. Many newspapers have assistant editors who are responsible for certain topic areas: community events, health stories, lifestyle stories. By offering this person a good story, you are helping them do a better job; if they like your idea, you have made an ally who will present it to the managing editor or editor-in-chief in a favorable light. You can find these names on the masthead, usually on page 2 of a print publication or the “Contact Us” page of a website.

Format Your Pitch

Use proper business-letter format if you’re submitting your pitch on paper: Type your return address (without your name); skip a line and type the editor’s name, professional title and address; skip a line and type the date; and then type the salutation, using an appropriate courtesy title (Ms. or Mr.). If you’re using email, use “Query” as your subject line, with or without a couple of words about the specific subject, and address the editor using a courtesy title and last name.

Polish Your Pitch

A pitch should be brief, clearly written and to the point. Keep the length to a single page, and avoid flowery language. Your first paragraph should be written as if it is the lead of your story. Include the five W’s and pull the reader in. In your second paragraph, briefly explain why you are the right person to write this story and what your approach will be. If you have writing experience, say so; if you have never been published before, emphasize your access to the key people involved in the story and your expertise in the subject matter, and let the quality of your writing speak for itself. End the letter with a confident call to action:

*I look forward to working with you to bring Center City families the story of this important new school program. I can be reached at (include both phone and email contact information.)

Thank you for your time.

Edit meticulously for typos, spelling and grammar. Type your contact information again under your name. If two weeks pass with no response, it’s OK to send a brief follow-up email or note to make sure the pitch was received.

Research Your Story

An editor who is interested usually sends an email or calls with a formal assignment, telling you how many words she has room for on the subject, when she needs it completed and possibly suggesting an angle she would like you to take or what information she wants included. Make this assignment letter part of your file of notes on the story. Do background research on the Internet to put the story in larger context:

Does your story have a specific place in history or on the national scene?

Interview key players; research their backgrounds first, and be prepared with good questions to get the conversation rolling.

Write Your Story

Before you write, read a couple of recent stories that editor has published to get a feel for the tone and style she likes. Take a mental step back and look at your file of notes as if you were looking at the pieces of a puzzle. Decide what goes where to make a logical and appealing picture.

Write a strong lead that contains the basic W’s and add more information point by point, using the inverted pyramid style: A reader can glean the most important information in a glance but reads on to learn more.

Keep your writing clean and articulate, don’t overuse adjectives and adverbs, and remember that most newspaper stories are written at about an eighth-grade reading level. Submit your story the day before the editor’s due date, and enjoy the experience of your first byline.

  • Purdue Online Writing Lab: Journalism and Journalistic Writing
  • Writers Bureau.com: Writing: How Can I Get My Freelance Writing Into Newpapers and Magazines?
  • Purdue Online Writing Lab: Associated Press Style
  • Purdue Online Writing Lab: The Inverted Pyramid

Anne Pyburn Craig has written for a range of regional and local publications ranging from in-depth local investigative journalism to parenting, business, real estate and green building publications. She frequently writes tourism and lifestyle articles for chamber of commerce publications and is a respected book reviewer.

This page will teach you how to write a newspaper article (and make it great). Learn how to format a newspaper article correctly, through examples, and learn how to cite or reference a newspaper article for a school assignment.

Newspaper articles provide information on current events and issues, along with interpretation and analysis. They also provide entertainment, and are a reference for television listings, sports results, movie listings, community events and weather reports.

Newspapers use pictures and captivating headlines to draw in readers and hold their attention. Writing a great article can require informative and persuasive language, including emotive words, imagery, and rhetorical questions.

The following hints, tips and ideas will help you write a newspaper article for your local newspaper, a school assignment or just for fun.

Newspaper articles provide information on current events and issues.


    Clear instructions from journalist Mia Carter.

How to write an article for your school newspaper

The Purpose of a Newspaper Article

A newspaper article provides information on newsworthy topics: that is, any event or issue of importance to the majority of readers. It provides the reader with all the facts about this issue or event, including who, what, where, when, why and how. It includes statements, comments and opinions from experts or other people involved.

How to write an article for your school newspaper

Types of Newspaper Articles

Newsworthy topics will vary according to the newspaper's audience. A national newspaper will report on national issues like finance, war and politics. On the other hand, a local community newspaper reports on actions and events in the area. Local newspapers tend to lean towards emotional stories; people are more interested in a minor local event then a distant disaster.

A major news report is put on the front page with a big headline and a large picture. These major stories will often have smaller related background stories, which will sometimes run for several pages. Lesser stories are placed in the newspaper based on their importance (more important news at the front) or placed based on category (world news, sports, finance).

Newspaper articles should be objective, factual, accurate and balanced.

Format and Structure

The structure of a newspaper article is often compared to an inverted triangle: the most important details are at the top of the article, and the least important information placed at the end of the article. It is important to keep each paragraph as independent as possible, to allow paragraphs to be cut out in order to fit in pictures and advertisements.

The article is not written in chronological order. A newspaper article includes the following (in order):

  • Headline and by-line (reporter's name and picture).
  • An opening paragraph (introduction) of about 25-40 words. It provides the most important and interesting news first, while answering who, what, where, when (how and why are often reserved for later).
  • Further short paragraphs of about 30-40 words apiece. Each one has a main idea and a different fact. They may also include quotes from people involved or experts.
  • Details are given in order of importance, with the least important details at the end of the article. This allows readers to skim over the start of the article to gain the essential facts before deciding to read on.
  • At the end of the article the facts and opinions may be summarised, detailing the issue or event.

Example of a Newspaper Article

How to write an article for your school newspaper

Examples and Samples


    Different layouts and styles.
    This page features several children friendly examples of newspaper articles for them to learn from.

Language Features: The Headline

Headlines convey information and attract attention using the following:

  • Short phrases and incomplete sentences
  • Figurative language
  • Stereotypes
  • Exaggeration

Writing A Newspaper Headline

Language Features: The Body of the Article

The language in the body of the article uses the following features to inform, entertain and persuade.

Journalists need their newspaper articles to be clear and well written. Others may have occasion to write a newspaper article as well, perhaps for submission to a publication about an upcoming event. No matter the author, a well-written article is more likely to be published. Use these tips to write a solid newspaper article.

Write a strong lead. The first paragraph of the article is also called the lead. This paragraph, often one sentence but perhaps two sentences, in most cases will summarize the main purpose of the article, which addresses the basic questions of “who, what, when, where, how and why.” Other types of introductions are sometimes used, such as leads that ask questions or leads that give an example of a situation to be explored in the article.

Write the newspaper article in the inverted pyramid format. This means the most important, most vital facts should be mentioned first, with the less important facts mentioned later in the article. The first few paragraphs must be more important than the next few, which in turn will be more important than the section beneath them, etc.

Where necessary, support all claims and arguments that need attribution. If you’re making an assertion in the article about someone’s actions or guilt in a criminal context, for example, this must be attributed to someone. If information in an article cannot be attributed to a reliable, appropriate source, it’s not suitable for publication.

Go back and give your article a thorough re-read. Work that must be done quickly, such as on deadline, can lead to typographical errors that can be as embarrassing as they are simple, such as the difference one letter can make between the words “public” and “pubic.” Errors also can occur if you have moved parts of the article around.

  • More on How to Write a Newspaper Article
  • How to Write a Press Release
  • Writing for the Web
  • What is Libel?
  • How Do I Avoid Libel?
  • When writing about an event, chronological order is vital and it’s usually a form of the inverted pyramid. But if the most important part of the story occurs later in the series of events, be sure to mention this important fact early on in the article, in the first, second or third paragraph.
  • Use word economy. If you can say it in five words instead of ten, then five words is all you need.
  • No big words! Newspapers are written for a twelve-year-old’s reading level, in order to accommodate readers of all backgrounds and abilities. Big, fancy wording is fine for academic writing or novels, but in newspapers, big, fancy words only confuse readers.
  • Provide background information. When writing about the latest in a series of events, do not assume precursory knowledge. Assume the reader is picking up the newspaper for the very first time, with no prior knowledge about a situation.
  • Write for the layman. If a newspaper article discusses things that are not considered to be common knowledge, background information must be provided. When in doubt, spell it out for people.
  • Always look up words that you’re unsure how to spell. A newspaper article full of spelling errors has little credibility.
  • Always present both sides of an argument, even if it’s just in passing. It’s vital that the opposite point of view is represented, or readers may mistakenly believe the primary view that’s discussed is the only view.
  • When wondering what facts to write about next when writing a newspaper in pyramid format, ask, "What’s the most important fact that I’ve yet to address?" This will give a newspaper article greater direction.
  • When using quotations, be sure to capture the speaker’s or writer’s intention. Do not misrepresent a point of view by using quotations out of context or in a manner that the speaker did not intend.
  • Get your quotes correct! If your quotes are wrong, you’re going to hear about it and this is very damaging to a journalist’s credibility within the community. Use a tape recorder, if necessary. And if you’re unsure about the wording of a quote, don’t use it.
  • Do you know what libel is? Do you know what constitutes libel? If not, you should! Anyone who writes a newspaper article must understand what is libelous. Libel can land you in court or in the unemployment office (for professional journalists), so learn about libel before writing a newspaper article. (See links)

This article was written by a professional writer, copy edited and fact checked through a multi-point auditing system, in efforts to ensure our readers only receive the best information. To submit your questions or ideas, or to simply learn more, see our about us page: link below.

How to write an article for your school newspaper

If you have a class filled with newshounds eager to write their own front-page stories about classroom events or the latest happenings in the cafeteria, Scholastic Teachables has you covered with ready-to-go resources for your young journalists.

These 5 resources will help students in grades 3–5 learn about the newswriting process and how to add descriptive elements that will engage readers. Not only will they learn how to write a news article, students will also learn important content-area vocabulary that gives new meaning to words like dummy, bleeds, and widow. Before you know it, your classroom will be a busy newsroom filled with young reporters looking to break the next big story!

1. Newspaper Writing: Narrative Learning Center

This narrative learning center specifically designed for newspaper writing helps students report facts and write a compelling news story that will engage their readers. The printable includes an introductory lesson, student directions, model writing samples, graphic organizers, differentiation tips, and an assessment rubric.

2. Newspaper Article: Leveled Graphic Organizers

This lesson with tiered graphic organizers will help your cub reporters and front-page newshounds learn the basics of news writing. Students will write a news article that opens with a lead, includes who, what, when, where, and why, and presents details in the body of the story.

3. Newspaper Jargon: Grade 4 Vocabulary

To be true news writers, students need to know the industry jargon. This vocabulary packet teaches students what words like bleeds, dummy, and stringer commonly mean in newsrooms.

4. The Daily News: Language Arts Bulletin Board

This bulletin board resource not only turns your classroom into a newsroom, it also helps students develop the speaking, listening, writing, and reading skills they need to run it effectively.

5. Plenty of Plastic: Grade 5 Opinion Writing Lesson

Every respected newspaper has a robust editorial section. This writing lesson helps create persuasive opinion writers by encouraging students to take a written stance for or against plastic bags.

Scholastic Teachables helps teachers like you build the next generation of journalists and newshounds. Even better, these teaching materials are ready to go, saving you time when you need it most during the school year. The printables are free to subscribers of Scholastic Teachables or are available for individual purchase. Log in or subscribe today for teaching tools to help your students write news articles that can make a difference in your classroom, school, and community!