Do you enjoy reading magazine articles? Most of us like reading magazines; they are light and colourful, and you can find one about almost any topic under the sun.

Most magazine articles are written to entertain and inform a reader about a topic. You choose to read a particular magazine because of the types of articles they include. Perhaps your interest lies in cars? Not only will you enjoy reading a car magazine’s articles but they will also give you more information about the new cars on the market etc. Each magazine has a ‘target’ audience that they write for. It could be teens, people interested in beauty and make up or a sport such as running.

How to start planning a magazine article?

Before you start writing a magazine article you need to decide on the following things first:

  1. WHO is your audience?

It’s most important to know who your readers will be. What age are they? What are their interests? This helps you decide what register (formal, informal) language you will use and what topics will interest them. It’s no good writing about financial investments for a school magazine. It will probably be of no interest to 99% of your audience.

Here are some ways to identify your audience:

  • Age range
  • Gender
  • Marital and family situation
  • Financial and socioeconomic status
  • Personal interests and hobbies
  • Professional status
  1. WHAT is the topic of your article?

Once you know who your audience is you can start to work on a topic that will catch their attention. There are different types of magazine articles. Some give opinions, others give advice and some present facts only. Your topic will guide you on which type of article you will write. If you’re writing for a school magazine you might want to write about the successful sports year that your school has had. This type of article will include facts but also opinions (about how good the results were!).

  1. WHAT tone do you need to use to appeal to the audience?

The tone of an article describes the feeling the writer gives the writing. The choice of tone again depends on your audience (as well as the topic). Tones can be critical, business-like or friendly. If you are writing for your school magazine about a successful sport’s year then you will write it in a friendly tone. If you want to write about the poor support you got at school, then your tone may be more critical and serious.

Now that you’ve decided on your audience, topic and tone, you can start planning your magazine article.

How does a magazine article need to be structured?

It needs the following:

  • Headline
  • Introduction
  • Body
  • Conclusion

When choosing the HEADLINE make sure that it is something short and catchy. You need your audience to stop flipping through the magazine and READ your article. The only way to do that is to make sure that your headline catches their attention. You may choose to decide on your headline once you have finished writing your article.

Again, like your headline, your INTRODUCTION needs to draw the reader in and hook them from the first line. In fact, the lead (opening) paragraph of your article is considered the most important paragraph in your entire article.

There are several different ways you can create a hook in your first paragraph to create interest:

  • Use an interesting or surprising example. This could be a personal experience that relates to the topic or an experience that someone you interviewed had (more about interviews later).
  • A quotation that raises an interesting question or gives a new angle on your topic might work well.
  • Ask a thought provoking question or a question that will arouse their curiosity, “What will happen if one day we are all told to stay at home for weeks on end?”
  • Use a powerful or poetic anecdote (brief story) to create interest. “The streets are empty and all you can hear is the howl of dogs and the wind battering against the desolate blocks of flats. The world as we know it, has come to an end.”

The BODY of your magazine article consists of various elements.

The number of main points that you want to make in your article depends on the word count you have been given. Every magazine editor will set a different word count depending on the audience they are writing for. Each main point will be introduced and developed in different paragraphs, if you want two main points, then the body of your article will have two paragraphs.

Each paragraph consists of:

  1. One of the main point you want to tell the reader about.

If you’re writing about your school’s sporting success, then one of your main points might be that the soccer team achieved great results during the year. (Each paragraph could be about the success of particular soccer teams played during the season or different star players who impressed with their games.)

  1. Your main point needs to be supported with some details. In the case of the soccer team it could be that a soccer team member went on to be selected for the provincial team or it could be as simple as, ‘Our soccer team won all their matches this year’. This can be fleshed out with a quotation from a reliable source. Magazine articles often come alive if the writer has interviewed people directly involved in the topic of the piece.

Interviewing people can be part of the background research you might do before you start writing your article. In this case it could be a quotation from the captain of the soccer team, ‘It was an awesome year but we couldn’t have done it without the help of our coach, Mr Masinga’.

Once you have made your main points, you need to write a CONCLUSION.

End on a strong concluding statement. It could be something that leaves your reader satisfied, ‘Well done to all our sporty girls and boys. Enjoy looking back at a magical year’. You could have a ‘what next’ ending, ‘What will our world look like in 2021?’. You could use a strong quote that points to future developments or the ongoing nature of the topic, ‘According to Dr Kasinge, “The future is in the hands of every one of us.”’

Another feature of a magazine article 

  • The register of your article will depend entirely on your audience. If you are writing an article for a group of technical experts on the advancement of computers, you will write more formally using technical jargon that suits that industry. If you’re writing for a group of teenagers, then you would choose to write much more informally. You may include some slang (although not vulgar words) in your article.

Once you have completed the rough draft of your article, you need to read it through carefully and edit any errors that you find. Remember that it needs to have a headline and several different paragraphs.