Monday, November 16, 2015


Magazine articles, types of. Magazine articles come in all types, as well as all formats and all topics. Although you don't necessarily need to designate the type of article you are writing when you begin, it is helpful if you can identify it by the time you contact an editor with a query. Included below, you will find a list of the most common article types.

(1) Inspirational article - Writing that inspires readers to be better, do better, feel better, or that spurs them on to a change of attitude or to some action. Do not confuse inspirational writing with Christian or religious writing. Inspirational writing by itself is not necessarily religious. However, Christian or religious writing can be an extension of inspirational writing. All different types of written material can fall under the inspirational category, along with music, plays, television or film scripts.

The religious inspirational market is open to devotional material, inspirational articles, and any kind of help for the day-to-day problems of life. Although there are a lot of Christian/religious publications and book publishers open to inspirational material, you will find that publications in the general market will often use them as well. When writing inspirational pieces for the general market, avoid specific references to Jesus or salvation. References to God and prayer are generally acceptable.

You will find a list of Christian publications and book publishers in the Christian Writers' Market Guide (

(2) Survey article – An article that's content is derived from information gleaned from surveys. It is important that when doing this type of article that the people surveyed are those most likely to be knowledgeable on the topic. For instruction on how to develop the questionnaire to distribute for a survey article, go to:

(3) Personality profile – An article that covers some aspect of a person's life or history, focusing on a specific aspect of it. It might be their family life, spiritual life, their philanthropic activities, work ethic, or whatever might be of interest to potential readers. The part of their life to be covered would be dictated by the thrust of the periodical where it would appear. For example, for a Christian magazine, the interest would be in some spiritual aspect of their life. For a family magazine, the interest would be in how they balance their professional life and their family life. An article never covers the subject's entire life. It is important to focus on one aspect. It would also be possible to do more than one personality profile on the same subject by focusing on a different aspect of their life each time. For how to write a personality profile, go to:

(4) Informational – An article that provides specific information on a topic of interest to the readers of the magazine where it appears.

(5) Travel article – An article that provides specific information about a travel destination that might be of interest to the readers of a travel magazine, or one that includes travel information. Since most travel destinations will have already been covered generally, the editors will be looking for the unusual side-trips, off-road excursions, or something that goes on behind the scenes. In some cases you will simply write about your own travel experience—good or bad. If talking about a specific location, readers want to know details about actual costs, how to save money, best attractions to see, best places to stay, etc. Keep in mind that publications will generally want photographs to accompany a travel article. Be sure to check whether they want B & W or color and whether they want hard copies or they want them sent electronically. For instruction on writing travel pieces, go to:

(6) How-to article – An article that teaches the reader how to do something. Almost every periodical for any age group is open to how-to articles. The key to selling this kind of article is in identifying what you know well enough to tell others how to do it, and then finding the periodicals whose readers would be interested in knowing about it. Everyone knows how to do something well, but although personal experience usually dictates your topic, you can also write how-to articles based on research or interviews. Possible topics are endless, from how to lead a Bible study or how to grow potatoes, to how the communicate with teenagers. The secret of success is in the love of detail and the ability to provide clear and concise instructions. Keep in mind that depending on the topic, and the publication you are targeting, the editor may want a numbered, step-by-step guide to producing a product—often with a photo to illustrate each step—or they will prefer the information be presented in the usual prose style. Studying their sample copies and guidelines should give you a clear understanding of their preferences. For a step-by-step guide to writing a how-to article, go to:

(7) Expose – An article in which there is a revelation of documented facts intended to expose wrongdoing or foul play. This information comes to light as the result of careful investigative reporting by the writer. Such articles expose an important individual or politician, or a company or organization. Such a piece typically brings a shocked reaction from the readers.

(8) Service article – An article that highlights a specific product or service. Often it compares different brands of a certain product to determine which is most effective. Some articles will not name specific brands, but simply talk about the features to look for, how to find the best deals, potential problems or limitations with this type of product, and the like. Women's magazines such as Real Simple or Good Housekeeping carry a lot of service articles.

(9) Personal experience article – An article based primarily on the writer's personal experience. It could be either a positive experience or lesson, or a negative experience from which the reader can learn something worthwhile. Although there is little market for a personal experience book, a few publications are open to or actively seek personal experiences pieces that educate or inspire. Personal experience articles will usually be written in first person, however, they can also be done “as-told-to”

--which means it is the subject's experience, but is told to the writer who writes it as if it was being written by the subject. Since all the articles in Guideposts are written in the first person, often they are actually done as as-told-to pieces. For detailed information on how to and how not to write personal experience articles, go to:

(10) Interview articles – An article based on an interview with a person of interest that typically results in a personality profile on that person. Sometimes such an interview will be the result of a recent event of note, or perhaps a lifetime of achievement. Could also be an act of bravery, or even a negative experience. Always do background research on the subject or event before the interview and come prepared with questions to ask that will give you the information necessary for your article. Always ask yourself what you would want to know about this person or event and let that guide your questions. Tape record the interview, transcribe it, then use it to guide the writing and listen for direct quotes you can use in the articles. Find guidelines for writing up an interview article at:

(11) Think piece – An article based on what the author thinks about the subject; his/her reaction to it. Since it is personal opinion, it does not need to be based on any specific research, but needs to be based on informed opinion. It is a serious attempt by the writer to bring reader's attention to problems of political, social, philosophical, or religious concern. The author's purpose in writing this type of article it to win the readers over to his/her way of thinking. Typical length would be 500-1,500 words. For more on think pieces, go to:

(12) Humorous article. A funny article—one of the hardest types of article to write. Few writers are able to write funny successfully or consistently. Even writers who can be funny in person are seldom able to transfer that humor to the written page. Although few can pull off a whole humorous article, it's good to infuse a little humor into even more serious pieces—providing a little comic relief. A good humor writer can take a more serious issue and deal with it in a humorous way to capture the reader's attention and then to make a point. The purpose of any humor article is to make the reader smile or laugh. The lead to the article needs to be humorous to set the tone for the rest. Humorous articles are typically short. For more on writing funny, go to:

(13) Nostalgia article - Article that highlights a memorable event, series of events, or other pleasant memory. You don't have to be a senior citizen to write nostalgia. Life is changing so quickly that past life is nostalgic for older people, but informative for younger ones. Nostalgia pieces are usually based on a universal subject, such as childhood memories, adolescence, TV programs, clothing, historical events, marriage and early days of marriage, or first job. Be sure to do enough research to verify basic historical facts. Paint vivid word pictures by drawing on the five senses. And, finally, be sure to make a comparison or contrast past to present for younger readers. For more on nostalgia writing, go to:

(14) Filler or mini-article - A short, nonfiction item used to “fill” out the page of a periodical. It could be a timeless news item, joke, anecdote, light verse or short humor, puzzle, game, etc. Most magazines use some types of filler material, but not all. Submit fillers only to those that indicate they accept them—and only the types of fillers they indicate. When submitting fillers, include the exact number of words in the upper, right-hand corner of the manuscript. Fillers are selected according to the number of words it will take to fill the page in each different instance. Some publications pay a set amount for fillers, while others will pay by the word at the same rate they pay for longer articles. For more, go to:


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